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#pounditSaturday, May 8, 2021

College Football

Ed Orgeron says he has learned his lesson about infamous defense quote

Ed Orgeron

LSU coach Ed Orgeron is shying away from bold proclamations about his team this season.

Orgeron memorably said last September that the Tigers’ defense was “so much better” than it had been at any point of the team’s 15-0 championship season in 2019. That comment aged terribly, as the Tigers surrendered 492 yards per game, the fourth-worst mark in the entire FBS. The defense’s performance was so bad, it ultimately cost Bo Pelini his job as LSU’s defensive coordinator.

On Wednesday, Orgeron said he felt the defense was improving from 2020, but alluded to his previous comments in noting why he was being a bit more conservative with his praise.

“You know, I’m going to be careful what I say about last year to this year, because last year I said something and it come back to bite me,” Orgeron said, via John Brice of FootballScoop. “So I’m going to be guarded in what I say.

“I do see a difference. I see our guys with their cleats in the grass. I see communication being better. I see the defense simpler. I see our guys attacking and playing football. But I’m going to hold judgment to the season. Lesson learned.”

It would be hard for the defense to be worse, but Orgeron’s note of caution is smart. He was definitely flying high ahead of last season as the coach of the reigning national champions, and it seems he just got a bit carried away. There’s no way the guy wants to be trolled all season again, so he’ll let the team’s play do the talking this time.

Lane Kiffin calls out Paul Finebaum for getting him fired with ‘Miley Cyrus’ comment

Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin joined Paul Finebaum’s show on Monday, and he used the opportunity to remind the host of their sore past. Namely, Kiffin still believes Finebaum played a role in his firing from USC.

Kiffin said during the appearance that Finebaum got him fired by comparing him to Miley Cyrus.

“You still owe me because you did get me fired at USC that Saturday morning by saying I am the Miley Cyrus of college football,” Kiffin said.

Finebaum owned the 2013 remark and admitted he was trying to make a name for himself.

“For those of you who didn’t see this, I’m blushing even beyond the normal blush of makeup,” Finebaum said. “I said that on ‘College Gameday.’ It was my first year at ESPN, and coach, I was trying to make a name for myself. And unfortunately, you just happened to be the next victim. I do feel badly about that.”

Kiffin also needled Finebaum about still having something against him for leaving Tennessee after one season.

Kiffin is a pretty straight shooter, so it’s not too surprising that he brought this up on Finebaum’s show. It’s also not surprising that he brought up his USC firing. He has shown us many times over the last few years that he still is not over what happened. If you got fired on an airport tarmac after a road loss, you’d probably be bitter about it too.

Ole Miss fans! It’s time to jump aboard the Lane Train! This Lane Train shirt is a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here.

Bobby Petrino thinks Illinois State coach owes him apology

Bobby Petrino

Bobby Petrino thinks that Illinois State’s coach owes him an apology over what transpired between their programs.

Petrino’s Missouri State squad was originally scheduled to face Illinois State on Feb. 20. However, Missouri State asked to postpone the game until April due to poor field conditions, including snow and ice on the field.

Illinois State’s coach Brock Spack questioned the explanation from Missouri State. He cited a photo of the soccer field in saying the fields looked fine.

Fast forward to March, and Illinois State began the season 1-3. They decided on Sunday to shut down the remainder of their spring football season. Their reason was “to protect the health and safety of the players and ensure their readiness for the upcoming 2021 fall 11-game slate.”

That means the April 17 makeup game has been canceled.

“Maybe their coach owes Missouri State an apology for the fact that we couldn’t play a game because of snow and ice and that he tried to pop off that we had some other underlying reasons — which is totally wrong. Other than that, I don’t have anything to say about them,” Petrino said during his weekly press conference on Monday.

Maybe Petrino is right.

Missouri State is 3-1 this spring and has three games remaining on its spring schedule. They went 0-3 under Petrino in the fall. This is the 60-year-old’s first year at Missouri State.

Rondale Moore shows off insane athleticism at Purdue Pro Day

Rondale Moore

Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore is one of the most intriguing prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft, and he may have boosted his stock with his performance at the Boilermakers’ Pro Day on Tuesday.

Moore measured at 5-foot-7, which is two inches shorter than the 5-foot-9 he is listed at. That is one concern NFL teams have about him, but his explosiveness cannot be ignored. Moore ran an unofficial 4.29 in the 40-yard dash, which is comparable to Tyreek Hill.

Moore also impressed scouts with his 42.5-inch vertical leap.

Moore battled injuries the past two seasons, which is another reason he is a difficult prospect to evaluate. He had 114 catches for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman in 2018. He also added 213 yards and two scores on 21 rushes and was a return specialist for Purdue.

Many analysts have predicted Moore will be a first-round pick due to his playmaking ability, and his pro day performance could help solidify that. While plenty of players have shown us that blazing speed in drills doesn’t always translate to the NFL (here is one great example), you can understand why teams are excited about Moore.

Najee Harris had awesome gesture for Alabama teammates at Pro Day

Najee Harris

Najee Harris is not taking part in Alabama’s Pro Day on Tuesday, but it seems like nothing was going to stand in the way of the star running back being there to support his teammates.

Harris was supposed to fly from Dallas to Birmingham on Monday night, but his flight was canceled due to inclement weather. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Harris then decided to make the nine-hour drive to Alabama so he could be there in time for the Crimson Tide’s Pro Day, which began at 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

Alabama will hold a second Pro Day workout on March 30, so Harris could participate in that one. Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith also chose not to take part in drills on Tuesday.

While scouts won’t be able to get a close look at Harris on Tuesday, NFL teams will likely be impressed by his commitment to supporting his teammates. Harris has gone viral for his ridiculous leg muscles and is projected by most to be the first running back drafted next month. Being a great teammate can only help his stock.

Urban Meyer discusses ‘awful’ NFL free agency process

Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer did not enjoy his first taste of free agency in the NFL.

Many of the deals in free agency are reached in the two days prior to actual free agency beginning during what some call the “legal tampering period.” Players are not allowed to meet with teams until free agency officially begins. The result is teams like the Jags had to reach many deals without Meyer being able to first meet with the players in person.

The Jacksonville Jaguars coach made clear that he found the experience “awful.”

“I guess in the old days you could bring them in and meet them, then have dinner with them and find out their football intellect, find out their character and things like that. So we had to do a deep dive on every guy that we signed,” Meyer said, via Doug Samuels of Football Scoop. “To answer your question, it was awful. I don’t believe it should be that way. I’m not sure how that rule came about, but, to me, that’s not good business.”

Understandably, Meyer would like to meet with players before signing them and committing a lot of money to them. The problem is if you don’t act quickly, players can sign elsewhere. So for Meyer, this is a bit of a blind process.

Meyer’s dislike of the process didn’t stop Jacksonville from being very active early in free agency. Meyer has to feel somewhat comfortable with those moves considering how aggressive the Jaguars were.

Ex-Florida State LB says he was victim of racism on flight

Florida State logo

A former Florida State football player says he was the victim of racism on a United Airlines flight this week, and he is angry with the airline for allegedly not doing anything about it.

Dontavious Jackson, who played linebacker at Florida State from 2016-2019, took to Twitter on Wednesday night and said he was called a “f—ing n—-r” by a “racist family” on his United flight. He claims police became involved and the family tried to “play the victim card” by telling officers he attacked them. Jackson says he would have been arrested if not for another passenger capturing video of the incident.

Jackson shared what appeared to be a screenshot of a text message conversation he had with the passenger who videotaped the incident. He told the other passenger that officers “only released me because you guys told what really happen.”

Jackson didn’t provide much context, so it’s unclear why the verbal altercation began.

Jackson tallied 156 total tackles in his four seasons at Florida State.

Drew Brees’ new role with NBC revealed

Drew Brees

Drew Brees has had his post-retirement plans set for some time now, but we now know specifically what the former New Orleans Saints quarterback will be doing for NBC.

According to Tyler James of the South Bend Tribune, Brees will replace Tony Dungy as the analyst for Notre Dame’s home football games on NBC. Brees will work alongside Mike Tirico in that role. In addition, Brees will be part of the network’s “Football Night in America” studio show, and will also contribute to coverage of the Olympics and Super Bowl LVI.

Dungy will remain with NBC and return to a full-time NFL studio role.

Brees has had his NBC career lined up for quite a while. It’s not clear if NBC will keep adding to his responsibilities once he has a year or two of work under his belt.

Brees has no connection to Notre Dame, though he did attend nearby Purdue. Notably, the two schools are slated to play each other on Sept. 18.

Lane Kiffin sends some rat poison Nick Saban’s way

Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin had some fun with his former boss this weekend.

Kiffin, who is known for being a master troll, was it again. He shared a photo on Twitter Saturday that showed an Alabama Crimson Tide license plate that said “THX NS” on it. The plates were a reference to Nick Saban, the highly successful head football coach at Alabama.

Kiffin joked that the license plate was his new one and that it was “rat poison” for Saban.

“Rat poison” is what Saban terms any sort of hype he believes can distract his team from its mission of winning national championships.

Kiffin enjoys teasing Saban, especially on social media. But underneath all of that is great respect that Kiffin has for his former boss.

Kiffin was Saban’s offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2014-2016. He is now the head coach at Ole Miss and aiming to beat his former boss.

Ole Miss fans! It’s time to jump aboard the Lane Train! This Lane Train shirt is a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here.

H/T Crabman

Nebraska tried to back out of game with Oklahoma

Nebraska Cornhuskers logo

Nebraska fans aren’t terribly happy after learning that the school tried to back out of a scheduled rivalry game with Oklahoma in 2021.

Under the terms of a deal agreed in 2012, the Cornhuskers are slated to travel to Norman to reignite their football rivalry against Oklahoma. The two schools have not played since the 2010 Big 12 Championship, the final game Nebraska played in the conference before moving to the Big Ten. However, reports surfaced that Nebraska was looking at ways to get out of playing the game in order to schedule another home game instead.

In a statement, Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos confirmed the reports, and tried to defend the efforts by citing pandemic-related revenue losses. Moos ultimately committed to playing the game in the statement.

“Ultimately, the decision was made to move forward with our game at Oklahoma in 2021,” Moos said in the statement. “We have the utmost respect for the University of Oklahoma, and this storied rivalry, and I know our fans have been excited about this series for a long time.”

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione had previously weighed in on the reports by noting that the Sooners were very enthusiastic about playing the game, essentially making clear that any reservations were solely on Nebraska’s end.

It doesn’t really matter how legitimate or understandable Nebraska’s reasoning is. Their fans have been looking forward to this game for a decade. This is a rivalry that dates back a century and was once one of the most heated in the sport. The fans want to see it happen.

Nebraska’s coach talked about silencing the doubters in 2021. Maybe the team still will, but this isn’t really a great start from a PR perspective.