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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

College Football

Top five college football teams that did not make preseason top 25

Brian Kelly

There were few surprises when the first AP Top 25 poll of the season was released on Monday, with Alabama topping the rankings and a whole set of national title contenders in the top ten.

However, it’s worth taking note of the teams that failed to make the initial rankings. Here are five teams that didn’t appear in the AP’s first Top 25 of the season but may well end up there once the games start.

Utah

The Utes are always a factor nationally, it seems, and 2017 should be no different. The AP voters haven’t ranked them, but the respect is still there — they had 85 votes, and perhaps tellingly, landed at No. 25 of the season’s inaugural Coaches’ Poll.

If Troy Williams — or sophomore challenger Tyler Huntley — can step up and make their quarterback job his own, Utah has a chance to make a real big splash. They have a good enough defensive unit to keep them in pretty much any game. If their offense can step up and score enough points, which is the real question mark, the Utes should end the season in the top 25, potentially with a Pac-12 championship appearance.

TCU

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Nick Saban has hilariously muted reaction to total solar eclipse

Nick Saban

Many people across the country are going out of their way to make plans to observe Monday’s total solar eclipse, but Alabama coach Nick Saban is not one of them.

Saban was asked about the eclipse on Saturday, and let’s just say he doesn’t much care about the rare event.

“I watch The Weather Channel every day,” Saban said, via ESPN. “They’re already saying what it’s going to look like in every city in America. So what’s going to be significant? Watch The Weather Channel, and you’ll see what it’s going to be like in Portland, Oregon.”

What about the players? Well, they can watch it if they want, but again, Saban has nothing special planned.

“We’ll set it up so if the players want to go out there and get some sunglasses, I guess they can,” Saban said. “That’s not something that I’m really that focused on right now.

“Tell them to watch it on TV. Maybe we should have a team meeting about how we want to do this. I haven’t thought about it.”

Saban is famously unimpressed. It will be seven years before the next total solar eclipse, so maybe he can get himself amped up for that one instead.

Lane Kiffin gives funny nickname to FAU program

Lane Kiffin FAU

Lane Kiffin is assembling some talent in his new home job as head coach of Florida Atlantic. Most of that top-end talent is coming by way of transfers from players who started off at big schools, went to junior college, and now are headed to Kiffin’s FAU.

Some of Kiffin’s new players include DeAndre Johnson, Tim Bonner and John Franklin III from East Mississippi Community College — the school that is the subject of Netflix show “Last Chance U.” Former FSU LB Kain Daub and ex-Pitt DL Jeremiah Taleni have also transferred to FAU.

Many have noticed a trend with Kiffin’s new program, leading Lane to give it a funny name:

Not only is this the last strike for many of the players, but it also seems to be the same thing Kiffin. After all, much like many of the athletes he’s recruiting, this is one of the only head coaching jobs Kiffin could land following controversial departures from the Raiders, Tennessee and USC (as well as Alabama as their offensive coordinator). Kiffin is getting a final chance, and he’s also giving these players a final chance. What will they all make out of it?

Tom Herman not exactly raving about Texas’ quarterbacks

Tom Herman

Tom Herman doesn’t exactly seem thrilled about his quarterback situation entering his first season at Texas.

Herman has yet to officially announce a starting QB for the Longhorns’ first game of the season, which will be Sept. 2 against Maryland. However, he says that Shane Buechele will be the team’s starter for that game.

And though Herman seems to be confident that Texas will be a winner this season, he does not believe that will be because they are led by a dynamic, standout quarterback.

“We’re not dynamic there. We’re not Vince Young. We’re not Braxton Miller. But we’re good enough to win with,” Herman said after a scrimmage on Saturday, via the Dallas Morning News.

Though the quarterback play and offense is leaving some questions, Herman seems excited about the Longhorns’ defense.

“We’re going to win with great defense,” Herman said of Texas entering the season.

The Longhorns are looking to turn things around in their first season under Herman. They had three losing seasons in a row under Charlie Strong and are looking to rebound following consecutive 5-7 runs. Maybe it will be the team’s defense, not offense, that helps get them over .500.

Chris Simms again talks about receiving $100 handshakes at Texas

Chris Simms

This just in: college football players sometimes receive $100 handshakes from wealthy fans. Chris Simms confirmed that once again.

Two years after talking about receiving a few $100 handshakes during his time at Texas, Simms caused some headlines for saying it again.

Simms, a former Texas Longhorns QB, talked about the $100 handshakes on “The Dan Patrick Show” Thursday.

Simms noted that it wasn’t the prominent boosters who gave out the handshakes, but rather smaller fans who might exchange the money as a thank you for a player signing autographs. Simms, who most notably played for the Bucs in the NFL, says that the $100 handshakes happen at many schools, not just big ones like Texas.

Simms is currently an analyst for NBC Sports.

Ed Orgeron does not expect Arden Key to play in LSU opener

Arden Key

LSU may be without one of their best players during the season opener.

Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron said on Thursday that he does not expect pass rusher Arden Key to play in the team’s Sept. 2 opener against BYU.

Key underwent shoulder surgery in May, so LSU has known all along that his status for the opener was up in the air. He still has not been cleared for contact in practice.

Key had 12 sacks last season and is viewed as one of the top prospects for next year’s NFL draft.

Report: Hugh Freeze made escort-type calls while on recruiting trips

Hugh Freeze

More information has emerged regarding the Hugh Freeze scandal at Ole Miss, and a new report points to the former football coach establishing a pattern of making escort service-type phone calls while on recruiting trips.

Freeze resigned as the head coach at Ole Miss last month amid a report that he made phone call to an escort service. Freeze tried to dismiss the phone call as being the product of a misdial. However, Ole Miss said upon doing a closer examination of the coach’s phone record, they discovered a pattern of similar calls being made.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Beaton wrote about that pattern. According to his story, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork told Beaton that the phone calls tended to happen when Freeze was using the school plane on recruiting trips.

Beaton writes that the phone calls were “often matching up with travel logs showing the coach’s use of the school plane. The school said it examined his travel logs from peak recruiting times—often November, December and January—when Freeze would travel out of state, using the school plane and other public resources.

“When we say pattern, we are describing other phone numbers that when you Google them pull up similar type websites, services, however you would describe them,” Bjork said. “We took action swiftly.”

Freeze resigned upon being approached with the information. The school would have fired him on moral grounds had he not stepped down.

Ole Miss enjoyed plenty of success under Freeze. The 47-year-old went 39-25 over five seasons, including two wins over Alabama and a 3-1 bowl record.

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