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#pounditTuesday, January 25, 2022

College Football

Ex-Alabama QB challenges Kayvon Thibodeaux to IQ test after slights

Greg McElroy on the field

Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux went viral for some comments he made this week criticizing Alabama as an institute of higher education, and one former Crimson Tide player fired back in a big way.

Thibodeaux, who is projected to be one of the top picks in this year’s NFL Draft, told FOX’s Joel Klatt that one of the reasons he chose Oregon over Alabama is he wanted his degree to mean something. He ironically said he is bothered by the “stigmatism” of athletes being dumb jocks.

“For me, I already hate the stigmatism of football players being dumb jocks,” Thibodeaux said. “Do you know the stigmatism of Alabama education? It ain’t the West Coast. It ain’t Harvard.”

He meant stigma, of course.

ESPN analyst and former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy ripped Thibodeaux for the comments. During his radio show “McElroy and Cubelic In the Morning,” McElroy and co-host Cole Cubelic mocked Thibodeaux for saying “stigmatism” when he meant stigma. McElroy also defended his Alabama degrees and challenged Thibodeaux to an IQ test.

“What I don’t understand is why he felt the need to cut down Alabama,” McElroy said, as transcribed by Erik Hall of The Tuscaloosa News. “And as someone who has always taken his academic situation very seriously, I’ll just come at him with this — if he’d like to take an IQ test, I’m available. If he’d like to take the Wonderlic test, I’m available. As a proud graduate with multiple degrees from Alabama, I will put my degree up against his any day of the week.”

McElroy, who was a Rhodes Scholarship finalist in 2010, said he received offers from Harvard, Yale, Princeton and most Ivy League schools in addition to Duke, Stanford, Northwestern and others. He chose Alabama, and he feels it served him well for both football and education.

To his credit, Thibodeaux at least acknowledged the irony of him spouting off about education and “stigmatism.”

Klatt also apologized for not pushing back when Thibodeaux criticized Alabama.

Thibodeaux came off as arrogant in the interview (video here), which might bother some NFL teams. It’s not a reason to shy away from arguably the best defensive player in the country, but he’ll probably get some questions about it during the pre-draft process.

Photo: Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Greg McElroy attends the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kayvon Thibodeaux shares his big problem with Nick Saban’s recruiting pitch

Kayvon Thibodeaux in uniform

Kayvon Thibodeaux was one of the top recruits in the country coming out of high school. He was recruited by Alabama but chose to attend Oregon instead.

Thibodeaux sat with Joel Klatt during the national championship game between Alabama and Georgia on Monday and talked about his experience with Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban.

Thibodeaux said that one thing about Saban is he is honest with recruits. But after Saban told him his philosophy on playing time, Thibodeaux knew that Bama was not for him.

“Nick Saban will tell you the truth. When I first met him, literally, he came to my school. The first time we talked, he said, ‘This is the problem with young guys. Young guys think that they’re supposed to play when they’re ready to play. You’re going to play when I feel you’re ready to play.’”

Thibodeaux says that was the moment he knew Bama wasn’t for him.

“That’s when I knew,” he said. “I was like, you know, I like my odds somewhere else.”

Not only did Thibodeaux realize his feelings on playing time didn’t match Saban’s, but he also criticized Alabama over the type of education and future he thinks they offer.

“If I handed you a fishing pole, would you know how to use it? If I’ve never learned (how to fish) or if school has never been important to me, or a job, or a career has never been important until I was done playing football, how would I ever know how to get a career or a job? I won’t,” Thibodeaux said.

Thibodeaux said he knew he could win at Alabama, but the draw of being part of a Nike school like Oregon helped pull him in. He wanted to be associated with the Nike brand.

“What people don’t realize is that football is an American sport. So, no matter how great Alabama is, you only play football in America, Canada and a couple other places. But a brand like Nike, I mean, for me it was like what brand associations do I want to be tied to? For me, I already hate the stigmatism of football players being dumb jocks. Do you know the stigmatism of Alabama education? It ain’t the West Coast. It ain’t Harvard,” Thibodeaux said.

You have to love the irony of Thibodeaux saying “stigmatism” instead of “stigma” while lamenting the “dumb jocks” reputation athletes receive.

Thibodeaux could very easily just explain why Alabama wasn’t the right fit for him without disparaging them or suggesting they can’t help out their players after football. But he decided to do that and ends up talking about “stigmatisms.” That’s not a great reflection of the guy who’s expected to be one of the top picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.

H/T 247 Sports
Photo: Oct 15, 2021; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) warms-up with players before play California Golden Bears at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Smart had savage message for Dan Lanning after Georgia win

Kirby Smart with a headset on

Dan Lanning may have helped coach Georgia’s defense to a national championship, but he is already being regarded as an enemy.

Lanning, who was previously the Georgia defensive coordinator, was introduced Thursday as the new head coach of the Oregon Ducks. Lanning shared that he received a note from Georgia head coach Kirby Smart after the championship to congratulate him on the win.

But Kirby also couldn’t help remind Lanning that he was now an opponent. Smart apparently had to give Lanning notice that he was getting the boot from Georgia’s staff member text message chain.

That’s brutal but efficient, sort of like how Georgia played defense in 2021, honestly.

Smart definitely prides himself on keeping his wits about him, even when he could justifiably be celebrating. That’s what he did at the end of the CFP semifinal.

Lanning is moving on, and so is the program he is leaving behind. Clearly there are no hard feelings about any of it.

Photo: Nov 25, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart shown on the sideline against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the first half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Harbaugh offers humorous response to NFL job rumors

Jim Harbaugh in a Michigan hat

Jim Harbaugh on Wednesday offered a humorous response to all the rumors linking him to NFL jobs.

Harbaugh just completed his seventh season as the head coach at Michigan. He began his time with the Wolverines under great hype and fanfare. Though he got off to a strong start with consecutive 10-3 seasons, it didn’t take long for people to declare he was underperforming.

Many critics soon started calling for the Wolverines to dump their head coach, and the chorus continued for a few years.

Things got even worse when Michigan went 2-4 in the messy, COVID-shortened 2020 season, but Michigan agreed to keep Harbaugh, albeit after he took a pay cut. In 2021, their patience with the coach paid off.

Harbaugh finally beat Ohio State for the first time, won the Big Ten for the first time, and helped Michigan reach its first College Football Playoff. All the success the Wolverines have enjoyed have led to renewed Harbaugh-to-the-NFL rumors.

“It’s a little more enjoyable this year compared to the rumors last year,” Harbaugh joked while talking at a press event for the Bear Bryant Award.

He’s right. It’s much better to have people trying to hire you rather than fire you.

Truthfully, any notions of firing Harbaugh were misguided. The man has a proven record of winning everywhere he’s been. Few can match the amount of success he has had both in college and the pros, and at every stop they’ve been.

Whether or not Harbaugh leaves Michigan remains to be seen. If he does leave, we would expect great results. If he stays, we would expect continued winning from the Wolverines.

H/T The Spun

Photo: Aug 31, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh before the game against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Jaxson Dart reportedly set for visit with notable SEC school

Jaxson Dart

Jaxson Dart is poised to draw a lot of interest after entering the transfer portal. That is already evidenced by one of his first reported visits.

Ole Miss have landed a visit with Dart, according to David Johnson of Inside the Rebels. Dart and his fellow USC transfer, tight end Michael Trigg, are both poised to visit Oxford after the pair travel to Oklahoma later in the week.

The Rebels having interest in Dart is not a huge surprise considering how their offseason has gone. Quarterback Matt Corral is heading to the NFL, and Ole Miss has tried to lure the likes of Dillon Gabriel and Cameron Ward to replace him. So far, they have not been successful, but they at least seem to have a shot with Dart.

Dart, who is entering his sophomore season, threw nine touchdowns in six games for the Trojans last season. His decision to leave USC may well be linked to the pending arrival of another big-name quarterback also in the transfer portal.

Old Kirby Smart quote about Stetson Bennett goes viral

Stetson Bennett throws a pass

An old quote by Kirby Smart about Stetson Bennett went viral on Tuesday, the day after the former walk-on quarterback led Georgia to its first national championship since 1980.

Bennett was a two-star recruit coming out of high school and joined Georgia as a walk-on in 2017. Though he was lightly recruited in part due to his size, Smart saw something in Bennett that he liked.

Derrik Allen shared the story on Twitter Tuesday about what Smart said about Bennett years ago.

“Sitting on a golf cart w/ Kirby and [Coach Ced Dickerson] while my oldest was working out for Mel Tucker & Stetson & 2 other QB’s were throwing for OC & Kirby said ‘that little QB they call him mailman he’ll prob (sic) never play here but I’m gonna bring him in as a walk-on bc (sic) he tough as s—,'” Allen tweeted (edited by LBS for profanity).

That’s a great story and a great quote. Smart liked Bennett because the quarterback was “tough as s—.”

Bennett initially didn’t have much of a path to play for the Bulldogs and left for a junior college. Bennett played the 2018 season at Jones County Junior College and was set to transfer to another college. However, Justin Fields, who was behind Jake Fromm on the depth chart, left Georgia and transferred to Ohio State. Georgia then offered Bennett a scholarship to come serve as Fromm’s backup.

Two more quarterbacks transferred in to Georgia. JT Daniels transferred in from USC but got injured this season and lost the job to Bennett. Jamie Newman transferred in from Wake Forest but opted out for the 2020 season, which opened the door for Bennett and D’Wan Mathis.

Two years in a row, Bennett took over for another Georgia quarterback. In 2020 it was Mathis. In 2021 it was Daniels.

Of all the quarterbacks Georgia has had over the years — Matthew Stafford, David Greene, DJ Shockley, Aaron Murray, Jacob Eason, Jake Fromm — it was Stetson Fleming Bennett IV who delivered the Dawgs a national championship.

Who saw that coming? The Mailman really is tougher than s—.

Photo: Oct 10, 2020; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) passes the ball against the Tennessee Volunteers during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Jahleel Billingsley, Drew Sanders enter transfer portal day after Alabama loses

Alabama Crimson Tide logo

Jahleel Billingsley and Drew Sanders did not wait long before deciding to move on in their college football careers.

Billingsley and Sanders are among five former Alabama players who entered the transfer portal on Tuesday, the day after their Crimson Tide lost in the national championship game to Georgia.

Quarterback Paul Tyson, linebacker King Mwikuta, and offensive lineman Tommy Brown are the three other players transferring.

Billingsley had 17 catches for 256 yards and three touchdowns as a junior this season. But the tight end slipped and was unable to make a third-down conversion in the first half against Georgia. He also was called out by Nick Saban before the season.

Sanders had 24 tackles and a sack as a sophomore linebacker. He previously was committed to Oklahoma prior to switching to Alabama in 2019.

Tyson saw very limited action behind Bryce Young. The sophomore quarterback went 10/16 and passed for 150 yards.

How Vince Dooley gave Kirby Smart a good omen about championship game

Kirby Smart with a headset on

Kirby Smart felt confident heading into the national championship game on Monday night, and some of that confidence came from what he considered to be a sign from above.

Smart became only the second one of Nick Saban’s former assistants to beat the Alabama coach when Georgia defeated the Crimson Tide to capture the title. After the game, Smart revealed to reporters that he ran into Georgia legend Vince Dooley by coincidence last week. He took that as a sign from God.

Dooley was the last head coach to win a national title with Georgia. He did so in 1980. The 89-year-old coached the Bulldogs from 1964-1988, winning six SEC titles in addition to the national championship. He was also the athletic director at Georgia from 1979-2004.

Smart was 0-4 against Saban prior to beating him on Monday. If you want to know how excited the Georgia coach was about the victory, just look at how high he jumped while celebrating.

Photo: Nov 25, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart shown on the sideline against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the first half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Video: Stetson Bennett seemed drunk during funny ‘GMA’ interview

Stetson Bennett during an interview

Stetson Bennett won the biggest game of his career on Monday night, and the Georgia quarterback agreed to go on live television for an interview roughly eight hours later. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the best idea.

Bennett was gracious enough to discuss Georgia’s win over Alabama in the national championship game during a Tuesday appearance on “Good Morning America.” We don’t want to make assumptions about how Bennett celebrated the big win, but it’s safe to say he was … exhausted. Check out the video:

Bennett admitted he didn’t get much sleep. He’s also 23, so there are certain activities that he would have been able to legally take part in after beating Alabama — if he were into that kind of thing.

Bennett, a former walk-on, went 17/26 for 224 yards and two touchdown passes in the 33-18 win over Alabama. It was obvious how much the feat meant to him when he was seen crying tears of joy on the sideline (video here). However Bennett chose to celebrate, he certainly earned it.

Georgia LB Nakobe Dean had wardrobe malfunction after winning title

Nakobe Dean celebrates with the wrong hat

Georgia came from behind to beat Alabama in the national championship game on Monday night, and one Bulldogs player found himself accidentally rocking the enemy’s logo after the game.

Following his team’s 33-18 win, Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean celebrated on the field wearing a hat with the wrong logo. Someone accidentally handed him one of the hats that Alabama would have worn had they won the game.

We’d like to think Dean was doing that to troll Alabama, but he almost certainly just didn’t realize. Most people probably are so used to seeing the Alabama logo on championship swag that they didn’t notice, either.

There have certainly been more embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions, but Dean will likely have a hard time living that down.