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#pounditThursday, January 21, 2021

College Football

Bill O’Brien officially joins Alabama as offensive coordinator

Bill OBrien

Bill O’Brien has officially landed on his feet at Alabama.

The Crimson Tide confirmed the hiring of O’Brien as the team’s new offensive coordinator on Thursday. He replaces Steve Sarkisian, who left to become head coach at Texas.

“We are pleased and happy to be able to add Bill O’Brien to our coaching staff,” coach Nick Saban said in a statement. “He has a wealth of experience as both an offensive coordinator and head coach in the NFL and college. Bill is one of the brightest offensive minds in football, an outstanding teacher and excellent recruiter. He will strengthen our coaching staff and give our players the best possible chance to be successful.”

The long-rumored move is a great get for Alabama considering O’Brien’s credentials. He went 52-48 as coach of the Texans with four playoff appearances. Things unraveled for him when he proved inept as general manager, and he also fell out with many of his players. His role as an Alabama assistant will more or less negate those concerns, as he won’t really be in position to fail similarly again.

Arizona State fans troll rival Arizona with billboard

Herm Edwards

Arizona State fans trolled rival Arizona with a billboard reminder of the lopsided result in the Territorial Cup last season.

Some ASU fans put up a billboard between Phoenix and Tucson to remind Arizona about the dominant 70-7 win the Sun Devils enjoyed in December. The billboard features two badges with devil horns and tails that say “70-7”. The message on the board says “No Pity for the Kitty.”

The billboard was paid for by VIP members of the Sun Devil Source community.

The billboard was also revenge for Arizona putting up billboards around Phoenix, not too far from ASU’s campus in Tempe, to promote their hire of Kevin Sumlin.

The rivalry game was so one-sided that it cost Kevin Sumlin his job.

Arizona has a new coach, but ASU fans are going to continue enjoying the big win all offseason-long.

Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr via CC-BY-SA 2.0

QB1 star Tate Martell sends Twitter message as tease for next season

Tate Martell

Tate Martell finally tweeted this week after being silent on the social media service for months.

Martell opted out of the 2020 college football season in September after being suspended by Miami. Though he retweeted some messages, this was the first time he sent one in months.

Martell seemed to explain his mentality.

Now that Martell has presumably gotten his “mind right,” it seems like he may be ready for the 2021 college football season.

Inside the U reported last week that Martell intends to return to the Hurricanes’ program.

Martell wasn’t around the program last season and even missed some time the season before.

Martell switched to wide receiver at Miami but has also tried to play some quarterback. The team has D’Eriq King, who is recovering from a torn ACL. N’Kosi Perry, Tyler Van Dyke, Peyton Matocha and Ryan Rizk are some of the other quarterbacks they have, though Perry has considered a transfer.

Martell was the Gatorade National Player of the Year out of high school in 2016 and originally played at Ohio State. He is known for being featured on the Netflix show “QB1: Beyond the Lights.”

Oliver Luck mentioned as Pac-12 commissioner candidate

Oliver Luck

The Pac-12 needs a new commissioner, and Oliver Luck is already being mentioned as a candidate for the job.

The Pac-12 on Wednesday announced that they were parting ways with Larry Scott, whose contract was up in June 2022. The move is being made now to get a new commissioner in place ahead of the conference’s 2024 TV negotiations for college football.

One person whose name has been coming up frequently as a candidate is Luck, according to Bruce Feldman and Pete Thamel.

Luck, 60, was a college quarterback who played in the NFL briefly. He later became the athletic director at his alma mater, West Virginia. He was a president for NFL Europe, has worked for the NCAA, has experience as an AD, and most recently, he was the XFL commissioner. Luck is extremely qualified for the position, and he would be a great fit. His son, Andrew, also played in the Pac-12 at Stanford.

Luck is suing the XFL over the way things unfolded at the league, which shuttered last year. If he is interested, he would be perfect. The conference of course probably won’t hire him seeing as how much they’ve botched things recently.

Here is why Pac-12 now finally parted ways with Larry Scott

Larry Scott

Larry Scott was despised by fans of Pac-12 schools for years after doing lasting damage to the conference’s reputation and performance in the major sports of college football and college basketball. For years, fans widely acknowledged that Scott was taking the conference in the wrong direction.

So why now, why after all these years, did the Pac-12 finally part ways with Scott a year before his contract was set to expire in June, 2022?

According to college football reporter Stewart Mandel, the conference’s TV deal is up in 2024. The Pac-12 wanted to have a new commissioner in place well before then as TV negotiations are likely to begin well before 2024.

This is smart. The conference should have gotten rid of Scott years ago, but the earlier they get him out, the better.

Scott will stay on through June before exiting. A new commissioner should help the conference secure better rights, a better TV package, and hopefully fix the DirecTV problem.

Larry Scott finally fired as Pac-12 commissioner

Larry Scott

The Pac-12 will finally have some new leadership.

Larry Scott was fired as commissioner of the Pac-12 on Wednesday. CEOs of the conference finished a meeting that led to the decision.

Scott sent an email to the Pac-12 athletic directors, telling them it was a mutual decision, even though he had a contract that ran through 2022.

The move is long overdue and really is coming far too late.

Scott took over as Pac-12 commissioner in 2009. Since then, the conference has become less and less relevant in college football and basketball, and is viewed as a joke among the Power 5 conferences, especially in football. The conference barely having a season in 2020 set it back even more than it already had been in terms of nationwide reputation.

The biggest error Scott made was keeping the Pac-12 Networks, which were launched in 2012, off of DirecTV. A significant percentage of the conferences fans were unable to watch their teams due to this horrible TV deal and became more disconnected with their programs. Simultaneously, Scott recently introduced 9 AM football games, which would give no chance for fans to have a typical college football Saturday.

Under Scott, the conference also expanded to include Colorado and Utah. Once highly-regarded as the Conference as Champions, the Pac-12 has plummeted in stature due to Scott’s horrendous leadership.

Tennessee star players enter transfer portal after Jeremy Pruitt firing

Tennessee Vols logo

With Jeremy Pruitt fired and the potential for looming sanctions, the Tennessee football program is a huge mess right now. On Wednesday, it managed to get even messier thanks to some high-profile player departures.

As summed up by al.com’s Matt Zenitz, the Volunteers lost four starters to the transfer portal: linebackers Henry To’o To’o and Quavaris Crouch, running back Eric Gray, and offensive lineman Jahmir Johnson.

These are not insignificant departures. To’o To’o was the quarterback of the defense, led the team in tackles with 68, 7.5 of them for a loss. Crouch was a five-star recruit who was the team’s third-leading tackler in 2020. Gray led the team with 772 rushing yards and was the best player on the offense, while Johnson started five games for the Volunteers and was set for an even bigger role in 2021.

Five-star offensive lineman Wanya Morris left Tennessee last week, transferring to Oklahoma. Four-star defensive end recruit Dylan Brooks also asked the school to release him from his letter of intent Tuesday following the Pruitt firing.

With potential sanctions looming and talent fleeing the program, the Volunteers’ coaching position keeps looking less and less attractive. Tennessee fans have their hearts set on a fairly big name, but they’ll be lucky to get anyone close to that at this rate.

Will Muschamp could land staff role at Georgia?

Will Muschamp

Former South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp is looking for a new job, and there’s increasing speculation he may find one at his alma mater.

According to multiple reports, Muschamp has been seen frequently at Georgia’s football facilities throughout the week. Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday that Muschamp has been entering and exiting the facility on his own throughout the week.

The newspaper initially reported that Muschamp had joined the team’s staff, but this was disputed by multiple reports, as well as Georgia coach Kirby Smart himself.

“He is not working here,” Smart told the newspaper. “He visited two days.”

Muschamp’s son Jackson is a walk-on redshirt freshman quarterback at the school, but that obviously wouldn’t be enough to grant Muschamp the kind of privileged access he appears to have. As a former safety, he could be a potential fit for Georgia’s vacant defensive backs coach position.

Once a highly-touted head coach candidate, Muschamp’s career has not been particularly successful at that level. However, he’s still respected, especially at Georgia. Some recruits might feel differently, though.

Tennessee students hilariously troll football team over McDonald’s bags

Tennessee rock McDonalds

The Tennessee football team is facing serious penalties stemming from an investigation into recruiting violations, and it does not appear the school’s student body feels any sympathy for the program.

The iconic “Rock” on the University of Tennessee campus featured some classic McDonald’s artwork on Wednesday. Someone painted a Happy Meal and the McDonald’s slogan “I’m Lovin’ It” on the giant boulder. Check it out:

If you don’t get the reference, you must not have heard the report about how Tennessee coaches were handing McDonald’s bags full of cash to recruits.

Vols fans recently used the Rock to voice their opinions about the team’s next head coach. The McDonald’s art is going to be tough to top going forward.

Doug Marrone joining Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama

Doug Marrone

Doug Marrone was fired as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this month, but he has already landed a respectable college gig.

Marrone has reached an agreement to become the offensive line coach at Alabama, according Matt Zenitz of AL.com.

Marrone has been an offensive line coach for several college programs, most notably Georgia and Tennessee two decades ago. The 56-year-old will replace Kyle Flood, who left Alabama to become offensive coordinator under Steve Sarkisian at Texas.

Nick Saban has hired a number of high-profile assistants to work on his staff at Alabama, and Marrone is the latest. Several coaches have revived their careers by working under Saban. Another former NFL head coach could take an even more prominent role than Marrone’s on Saban’s staff.

Marrone went 23-43 as the head coach at Jacksonville. He led the team to the AFC Championship Game in 2017.