Blog Entry

Saban could lose second coach before title game

Posted on: December 15, 2011 12:24 am
Edited on: December 15, 2011 10:41 am

Nick Saban could lose two staff members before the BCS national title game.

Once again the name of 'Bama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri has emerged as a replacement at Pittsburgh. The abrupt departure of Todd Graham means the Pittsburgh administration will have to scramble. Sunseri, also Alabama’s associate head coach, interviewed with Pittsburgh last year. He is a former All-American linebacker with the Panthers.

Saban has already lost offensive coordinator Jim McElwain who is headed for Colorado State. McElwain will stay through the bowl game. He has been with Tide almost four years.

Meanwhile, five names have emerged at Pittsburgh as the school rushes to find a coach for the second straight December. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads a possible front-runner. Rhoads was defensive coordinator for the Panthers under Walt Harris and Dave Wannstedt.

Rutgers offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti could be a candidate at Pittsburgh along with Baltimore Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin. Prior to Rutgers, Cignetti spent two seasons as Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator. Austin played at Pittsburgh and most recently spent a season as Florida’s defensive coordinator. Most of his career has been spent in the NFL.

Last year, Pittsburgh also showed interest in Florida International coach Mario Cristobal and Tom Bradley, now the Penn State interim coach.  

Also, look for Samford offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee to get serious consideration to join Gus Malzahn in the same position at Arkansas State. Lashlee formerly played quarterback for Malzahn in high school and was a grad assistant at both Arkansas and Auburn.  


Since: Jan 1, 2012
Posted on: January 9, 2012 8:47 am

Saban could lose second coach before title game

Undefeated LSU stayed on course to reach the BCS title game by beating  in overtime in early November, the Tigers’ only close victory of the year.

Turns out the Crimson Tide wanted a rematch.

They’ll get it Monday night at the Superdome, where top-ranked LSU and No. 2 Alabama will meet for the national championship in a showdown that guarantees a sixth consecutive BCS title for the SEC.

The Tigers (13-0) proved to be the dominant team in college football this season, using their versatile offense and overpowering defense to roll over opponents - except for one. That would be the Tide, who hosted LSU on Nov. 5 in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup of teams that have each captured a BCS title during the SEC’s five-year reign.

Containing a Tigers team that ended up averaging 38.5 points - 12th in the FBS - Alabama took a 6-3 lead in the third quarter. The Tide couldn’t hold on, however, as LSU tied it early in the fourth and won 9-6 in OT on ’s third field goal in a game in which no touchdowns were scored.

The loss appeared to put an end to Alabama’s hopes of a second national championship in three years, but the Tide (11-1) had other ideas. Bouncing back from that defeat with three lopsided victories, they edged  by a .0086 margin in the BCS standings before earning the chance for revenge in New Orleans.

While some argued the 11-1 Cowboys deserved the trip to the Superdome, this matchup seems appropriate considering Alabama was the only team not to lose to LSU by at least 13 points.

“This could be a totally different type of game,” said Tide coach Nick Saban, who led LSU to a Sugar Bowl win at the Superdome after the 2003 season for a share of the national title. “There’s so many good players on both sides of the ball for both teams.

“There’s so much opportunity for this game to play out completely different and have a completely different flavor than the first game.”

Other than Alabama, LSU outscored opponents 491-131. The Tide’s defense - ranked first in the country at 191.3 yards per game, ahead of second-place LSU at 252.1 - will again face the challenge of shutting down the Tigers’ offense.

This time, it will be for another championship. Alabama captured the 2009 BCS title, while LSU is seeking its first since the 2007 season.

“This team loves the big stage,” said Tigers coach Les Miles, the AP coach of the year.

LSU quarterbacks  and  split time and combined for nearly 2,000 passing yards and 20 TDs while capably directing a ground attack that averaged 215.2 yards - 17th in the country.

Jefferson, expected to start this game, was suspended four games for his role in a bar brawl in August. He ended up rushing for 248 yards, making him one of five Tigers with at least that many. LSU was led by (755) and  (700).

If Alabama succeeds in containing LSU’s offense for a second time, the final score of this game could be similar to the first matchup. The Tigers are the first school with two first-team All-American cornerbacks in Tyrann Mathieu and .

Mathieu’s performance made him a Heisman Trophy finalist after he emerged as perhaps the most dynamic all-around player in the country. He had two interceptions and forced six fumbles for an LSU team that led the country in turnover margin at 1.69 per game.

The sophomore was even more spectacular as a punt returner, tying for the FBS lead with 16.2 yards per return. That was due in large part to game-changing performances in the last two contests - he had three returns for 115 yards and a 92-yard touchdown in a 41-17 win over  on Nov. 25, and brought four punts back for 119 yards and a 62-yard score in a 42-10 victory over then-No. 12  in the conference title game Dec. 3.

Those efforts made his one-game suspension in October for failing a drug test - teammates Ware and  were also suspended - seem like the distant past.

“I think (only) we can stop us,” said Mathieu, who also has 1 1/2 sacks. “I think we made a lot of bad decisions, personal mistakes, but we corrected it. We never gave up on each other.

“As everything was going on, I definitely think we grew closer. We started to believe in our coaches more. We started to definitely come closer within the locker room. So I think the leaders definitely started to stand up, and hats off to our leaders.”

Claiborne brought back an interception 45 yards for a TD against the Bulldogs, one of his six picks on the season, and also returned an INT 33 yards versus Alabama. The junior led the nation in interception return yards with 173.

The two cornerbacks benefit from a powerful LSU pass rush that recorded 37 sacks, led by ends  (9.0) and  (8.0).

LSU’s size and depth on defense played a major role in wearing down opponents. The Tigers outscored opponents by a stunning 267-61 after halftime, including 35-0 against Georgia.

The Tigers limited Heisman Trophy finalist and Doak Walker Award winner  to 89 yards rushing Nov. 5, but they could have their hands full as Richardson ran for 505 yards in the last three games - 203 against  - as Alabama outscored those opponents 111-42.

The junior was sixth in the country with 1,583 rushing yards and fifth with 20 TDs on the ground. He also had three touchdown receptions and 327 yards receiving.

“We have great respect for that Alabama team,” Miles said. “I can see that it certainly was a great game against them at their place, and we certainly respect that outing and that team and we learned that they’re very capable.”

LSU may need its defense to be at its best - and perhaps get a few more big plays from Mathieu - as it tries to earn a second win against the vaunted Tide defense. Alabama is led by , who had 8 1/2 sacks and 17 tackles for loss, and fellow linebacker , who recorded a team-leading 81 tackles - 9 1/2 for loss - and three sacks.

Upshaw and Hightower were among six Alabama All-Americans, and the Tide led the country with four first-teamers.

“We would trade all our awards for a national championship,” said offensive tackle , the Outland Trophy winner and one of the first-teamers.

Along with getting production from Richardson and their ground game, the Tide may need at least a solid performance from quarterback . The junior went 16 of 28 for 199 yards in the first meeting with LSU, getting sacked twice and intercepted once.

Alabama leads 45-25-5 in a rivalry that dates to 1895. The last five matchups have been decided by nine or fewer points.

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: January 6, 2012 7:38 pm

Saban could lose second coach before title game

Wow.  Saban is losing coaches almost as fast as his over-recruits are losing schollies.  I would still like to know how they do such a great job of recruiting at Bama.  Everyone knows they over-recruit, and that players routinely show up in August, only to find out they have no scholly and no place to live.  
The only answers that make sense to me are money and "southern hospitality" from their "hostesses."   It must be pretty cool to be a recruit.  No matter they all want to take as many visits as they can.  If I was a four star recruit and I got "grapevined" the truth about how great of a time they have, I would definitely take the "southern hospitality tour" for as many visits as I could get.

Since: Dec 7, 2011
Posted on: January 5, 2012 12:19 am

Saban could lose second coach before title game

a couple of years ago hawkins at colorado coached his son the starting qb. thi doesnt always work out, hiring somebody just cause thry are on the staff of a good team. maybe he was a real good oc, or dc or receivers coach. that doesnt mean he is a good reruiter. maybe he is in a different part of the country. maybe the tem is built for 1, 2, 3, punt in a cloud of dust,and he is spread offense guy. he got hired because the team lost, was a bad team. he cant take the players with him. a coach is limited to the team that hired him. usually tho he gets hired because in the past he work with the ad. 

Since: Sep 27, 2009
Posted on: December 16, 2011 8:07 am

Saban could lose second coach before title game

Check your watch....seems you are a litle late on your meds. The reason OK State is not in the game is they "dropped the ball" against a team EVERYONE deemed inferior. Let the record show that the only loss Bama had was, in overtime, a close one to the consensus #1 team. And, by the way, OK St. was/is not equipped to handle the beating they would have gotten had they played three or four consecutive SEC games. I think you will get an entertaining game with Stanford, but that's about it. OK St. beats them by two touchdowns. Just so you know, we don't like the BCS, in it's present form, any more than you do. The SEC Commish tried to change it a few years back and was told to forget it......RTR

Since: Dec 11, 2009
Posted on: December 15, 2011 9:25 pm

Saban could lose second coach before title game


Poor Utah couldn't keep up with Alabama could they??  Wow, was that an epic fail or epic beating, depending on which side of the fence you were leaning on.  Boise State CRUSHED Georgia, a GA home game for crying out loud, who ended up in the SEC championship game.  I could go on and on.  But why bother?  The SEC was terrified that OK State would get a chance.  I don't blame them.  OK State would have CRUSHED LSU.  Could you imagine the Tigers falling behind 21-0???  Come on Jefferson, get a first down!!!  Gay Badger, we need multiple punt and kickoff returns!!!  Good luck.  Besides, we get a better, more competitive game with Stanford and OK State.  At least them boys can score TD's.

Since: Aug 24, 2007
Posted on: December 15, 2011 6:49 pm

Saban could lose second coach before title game

We stick together because we are in a league of our own. The best players, the best coaches, hense the best teams. We know from watching all the games around the country what the experts know. No other conference can truely compete with us. Make all the excusses you want to. We "just win baby"

Since: Mar 14, 2008
Posted on: December 15, 2011 5:15 pm

Saban could lose second coach before title game

You root for your entire conference because you are one of those "sons of the confederacy" quacks who truly believes the "south'll riSE agin'!!!" If your conference didn't pay to play/oversign, you'd be the same as the rest of the conferences. Congratulations on your illegitimate semipro conference. Now get back to watching NASCAR, JimBob

Since: May 7, 2009
Posted on: December 15, 2011 3:47 pm

Saban could lose second coach before title game

The Erricsons in Miami?

Since: Dec 23, 2007
Posted on: December 15, 2011 2:38 pm

Saban could lose second coach before title game

It's "after all," not "afterall."
Tongue out 

Since: Dec 15, 2011
Posted on: December 15, 2011 1:18 pm

Saban could lose second coach before title game

You SEC bashers need to STFU and get your teams up to par with the SEC. There's not a school in another conference that could hang with LSU or Bama. Hell, you guys could make a team with all the best players from your conferences and still get the wood laid to you! As a Gator fan, I am not happy that my team is not in the mix; however, SEC fans stick together when it's a battle with another conference. This game will be much more entertaining than the last and both teams will score more points. That's the nature of rematches - teams always score more points. Regardless, no team from any other conference would score many points on either LSU or Bama. Their defenses are two of the best in the history of college football. Bama has the LB's and LSU has the secondary. It's going to be a fun game to watch. As for Saban, he's about to lose his foundation. The big question is, will he go to the NFL, if Bama wins the NC. Many experts believe he will. I would like to see him go to the Jaguars. He's shown signs of burn-out all year, especially when dealing with the media and he has a history of moving on. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

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