national director of rival recruiting Adam Gorney has thoughts on Alabama’s loss to Texas, five coaches still on the bench early this season and the status of Michigan State’s coaches after the Mel Tucker accusations.
1. SABAN’S REACTION AFTER THE ALABAMA LOSS
I’m used to seeing the Alabama coach. Nick Saban yelling at players, acting surly even with a huge fourth-quarter lead due to a minor mistake on special teams, or throwing a tantrum over a controversial refereeing call.
I didn’t see that Saturday night in Alabama’s 34-24 loss to Texas. Not on the sidelines, where it was unusually quiet. Not at the postgame press conference, where he evoked tons of wisdom but didn’t seem all that argumentative.
One of two things is happening here: one, Saban knows his team isn’t elite this year or Saban has to take a different tact with this group due to their youth and inexperience. I refuse to believe it mellowed in the early 70’s.
In the press, Saban said he was happy it was the midterm and not the final. That his team now has two options: throw in the towel, quit and be mediocre or they can find, work hard and do the hard things to succeed.
I’m just not sure the talent is there. Quarterback Jalen Milroe was 14-for-27 with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Through two games, Milroe also leads the team in rushing yards and touchdowns, and is tied in rushing attempts.
The receiving corps is fine and has elite speed, but this isn’t Julio Jones or Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs or whatever. It just isn’t. Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers threw for 349 yards and three touchdowns and Texas scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to win.
Maybe there were some recruiting mistakes along the way. Maybe the portal (Ewers transfer, Texas WR Adonai Mitchell, who transferred two TD catches from Georgia) has crept into the Crimson Tide in ways that haven’t yet been calculated.
Alabama is good enough to win the rest of its games. The Alabama dynasty is not falling apart. But this is also a team that I wouldn’t be surprised if they lost three games.
For Alabama, this was neither the midterm nor the final. This was the first day of school and the student stumped the teacher.
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2. FIVE COACHES WHO DO NOT HELP THEMSELVES
Every year, there are a lot of coaches on the bench and now, a couple of weeks into the season, some have helped themselves, and some haven’t. Here are five who could remain on the bench all season:
Jimbo Fisher: Last year, Texas A&M’s offense was putrid, so Fisher swallowed his pride and hired Bobby Petrino to call plays. And now the defense isn’t looking very good after getting blown out in a 48-33 loss to Miami. The secondary looked slow and Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke lit it up. In only one of Fisher’s six seasons, the Aggies have not lost one of their first two games. Miami had not scored that many points since its game against Bethune-Cookman last year. Over 62 games, Kevin Sumlin He had a better record than Fisher.
Jeff Hafley: Hafley has a phenomenal resume in college and the NFL and is a smart guy, but recruiting and winning at Boston College is very difficult. The Eagles lost to Northern Illinois in the season opener and were only a slight favorite over Holy Cross and fell 31-28. Now Florida State is coming to town this weekend. Recruiting is always a challenge in Chestnut Hill and there is just no spark right now.
Neil Brown: Aside from the COVID-shortened year in 2020, Brown has three losing seasons in Morgantown and starting this campaign at Penn State is a tough way to start. The Mountaineers avoid Texas this year, which helps, but the schedule still presents numerous challenges and therefore some surprise wins await them.
Billy Napier: Considering firing Napier so early in his tenure would be absurd, especially since he has a history of winning and being a great recruiter (the Gators have done very well along the way since his arrival). But at the same time, Florida is too proud a program to lose to Vanderbilt or get beat by Oregon State in the bowl game. The Gators began the season getting pounded by Utah with a non-existent running game. There is a lot to fix and Napier needs time, but after 6 or 7 consecutive seasons (one with Napier), the fans are getting anxious.
Tony Elliott: Every coach in Virginia history has had a losing record in Year 1 dating back to 1946, when Arturo Guepe was 4-4-1 (even George Welch He went 2-9 in his first year and Bronco Mendenhall finished 2-10), so Elliott’s 3-9 campaign wasn’t historically bad. But the Cavaliers have to show improvement in Year 2 and beyond, and I’m not sure they’re there yet. A home loss to James Madison last week was almost a cheat because they are a good football team. But the ACC schedule isn’t much easier and I’m not sure where this Virginia team goes from here.
3. THE UGLY SITUATION IN THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
I don’t know what’s going on at Michigan State and neither does anyone else except the two parties involved – coach Mel Tucker and Brenda Tracysexual violence prevention advocate and rape survivor.
What I do know is that Tracy has made allegations against the Michigan State coach, who has now been suspended without pay, and Tucker vehemently denies any wrongdoing.
What I also know is that it looks like it’s going to be a prolonged situation with no results in the short term and that could be very problematic for a team that doesn’t know what’s going on and a recruiting class that has remained intact, until now . But uncertainty kills recruiting.
In no way am I putting football before the serious allegations made by Tracy, nor is the sport as important as Tucker defending himself, but these players and these recruits also have a right to stability. They are not understanding it.
While Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State fight for a shot at the College Football Playoffs, here’s Michigan State in another scandal. The players who chose Michigan State over many other Power Five programs didn’t want this.
The numerous transfers the Spartans made this offseason, including some elite players, didn’t want this. Recruits who want clarity and certainty when choosing a school did not want this.
Even if Tucker returns or is exonerated, how will he be viewed? If he leaves, then what?
This story goes far beyond football, but football is also an important piece and consideration here because it’s not just Tucker and Tracy’s lives that are affected. It is all the children in that locker room and each child who decides now whether to keep his promise or simply wash his hands.
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