Saturday Football: Texas hires Sark, Ohio State trolls Dabo Swinney and Dan Mullen rumors
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Good morning and happy Monday! The bowl games have come to an end with Texas A&M’s win over North Carolina in the Orange Bowl on Saturday night. Now, the only matchup remaining in the 2020 season is the College Football Playoff title game on Jan. 11, with Alabama battling Ohio State.
But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of big stories taking place in the college football world. Today, we’ll discuss Alabama OC Steve Sarkisian taking the Texas job, Ohio State trolling Dabo Swinney after a big CFP semifinal win and rumors connecting Dan Mullen to NFL jobs. Let’s get started!
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Texas fired Tom Herman and hired Steve Sarkisian. What does this mean for the Longhorns (and the Tide)?
There was some big news in the college football world on Saturday morning, when it was announced that Texas had fired head coach Tom Herman. Unlike other recent coaching searches, though (cough, Tennessee, cough, Auburn), the Longhorns quickly moved to name Herman’s replacement. By Saturday evening, the Longhorns had officially announced Alabama OC Steve Sarkisian as the new head coach.
So, what does this mean for the Longhorns moving forward? And, how will the Crimson Tide replace the Broyles Award winner, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach? Let’s take a look at some of the headlines surrounding this weekend’s surprising news:
- First, let’s discuss Sarkisian’s plans for the Jan. 11 title game. After the news broke that he was heading to Texas, he quickly said he would stay with the Tide through the championship. “I made a commitment to Coach (Nick) Saban and these players to see that through in the championship game,” Sarkisian said, “and then directly after that, I’ll be in Austin.” It’s clear he has a ton of respect for Saban. He also discussed what he’s learned under Saban’s tutelage. Of course, questions were brought up about Sarkisian’s past issues with alcohol and his rehab. Sark addressed those issues head-on during his introductory press conference. “I’m proud of the work that I’ve done. But I will say when you battle what I battle, you have to work on it every day,” he said. Saturday Down South’s David Wasson writes that this is the latest triumph in Nick Saban’s series of coaching reclamation projects.
- Speaking of Saban, where will he turn for a new offensive coordinator? Well, Twitter was abuzz with candidates after the Sarkisian news broke. Everyone joked that Saban should hire former Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. In some more serious suggestions, Ole Miss OC Jeff Lebby’s name was a popular one among media members and fans. But, first, we’ll need to see exactly how many openings Saban’s staff will have. Sark is reportedly trying to bring a key Alabama assistant with him to Austin. Sark won’t just poach assistants from Alabama, though. Per reports, Sarkisian is already targeting a number of current and former SEC coaches and coordinators for his staff. Saturday Down South’s Connor O’Gara writes that whoever takes over for Sark as Alabama’s offensive coordinator will have a lot to learn from the success he had the past two years.
- So, what is the reaction about Texas’s decision to hire Sark? Media members had some varied reactions to the news. Kirk Herbstreit said Sarkisian will be under immediate pressure to compete for Big 12 titles and Playoff berths. The Comeback’s Sean Keeley writes that the Longhorns’ decision to fire Tom Herman only serves to make Mack Brown’s legacy in Austin stronger. Chris Hummer of 247Sports says Sark inherits a roster ready to win a championship. We’ll see what happens in 2021 and beyond.
Before Sark heads to Texas, he has one last ride with the Crimson Tide. If he can leave Tuscaloosa after dialing up a title-winning offense, he’ll leave as a legend. That’s a lot of pressure, but Sarkisian’s time under Saban has been preparing him for this moment. We’ll see if he becomes the next former Saban assistant to find success as a head coach. He won’t have a very long leash at Texas.
Bowl season has come and gone, and now the only game left in the 2020 season is the College Football Playoff National Championship Game between Alabama and Ohio State. Thus, it’s a good time to wrap up our weekly stat leaders section.
Below, you can check out the players who led the FBS level in some key statistical categories during the 2020 campaign. There are some truly impressive numbers here for a season that featured limited games for many athletes (via CFBStats.com):
- Passing yards: Kyle Trask, Florida — 4,283
- Passing TDs: Kyle Trask, Florida — 43
- Rushing yards: Breece Hall, Iowa State — 1,572
- Rushing TDs: Najee Harris, Alabama — 24
- Receiving yards: DeVonta Smith, Alabama — 1,641
- Receiving TDs: DeVonta Smith, Alabama — 20
- Sacks: Two players tied — 10.5
- Tackles: Two players tied — 113
- Interceptions: Two players tied — 6
Those are some great numbers. Interestingly, the three key defensive categories all featured multiple players atop the leaderboards. We’ll see which guys get the year started strong when the 2021 campaign kicks off this coming fall.
- Lane Kiffin’s first year at Ole Miss was a roller coaster. There were some dizzying highs and some inexplicable lows. But, it ended on a good note with a win over Indiana in the Outback Bowl. Saturday Down South’s Connor O’Gara compares the Rebels’ 2020 season to a night with too much tequila.
- The Big Ten had some mixed results this bowl season. Ohio State will play Alabama for the title, Northwestern beat Auburn, Indiana lost to Ole Miss, etc. But, that shouldn’t take away from the accomplishments of the league this year. Saturday Tradition’s Ryan O’Gara writes that it’s time to give the B1G the respect it deserves this season.
- This bowl season has been one of the most-unusual ones ever. From games getting canceled to opponents being shuffled to players opting out, it was hectic. Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller breaks down the winners and losers from this unique bowl season.
- And, for the final Good Read, we’re going to discuss tennis. Yes, really. That’s because Alabama QB Mac Jones, one of the four Heisman Trophy finalists, has a surprising knack for the game. Tennis.com’s Joel Drucker writes about the Jones family’s love for tennis and how Mac is a natural on the tennis court.
DOWN GOES DABO
The Sugar Bowl turned into the roast of Dabo Swinney after Ohio State’s 49-28 win. Did he learn his lesson?
Dabo Swinney has had plenty to say about the Ohio State Buckeyes for the last two weeks before Friday night’s Sugar Bowl showdown between No. 3 Ohio State and No. 2 Clemson. It’s safe to say that, after a dominating 49-28 win, the Buckeyes silenced Swinney for at least a little while.
The fuel Swinney provided Ohio State in the days leading up to the College Football Playoff semifinal game was incredible. He ranked the Buckeyes No. 11 in his USA Today Coaches Poll ballot, arguing that a team playing only six games didn’t deserve a spot in the four-team field. Then, the Clemson head coach went on ACC Network to say the film study should be “pretty quick,” because of the lack of games OSU had played. You’d think after doing this for long enough, Swinney would know better than to spray lighter fluid on a bonfire, but apparently not.
And after the Buckeyes rolled the Tigers to advance to the national championship, Swinney became the butt of the social media jokes:
- The jokes started rolling in early on Friday night. As you might’ve guessed, everyone was quick to troll Swinney once Ohio State built a 21-point lead heading into halftime. Everyone from former players to media to fans were mocking Swinney’s ranking of the Buckeyes. Near the end of the game, Ohio State’s Twitter account was getting in on the action, bringing Swinney’s “This Is Gonna End Real Soon” acronym into the conversation to deliver the final gut punch to the Tigers. Even NBA superstar and Ohio native LeBron James got in on the Clemson trolling.
- Chants of “Dabo” filled Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Saturday Tradition’s Ryan Clark pointed out 7 reasons why Ohio State fans hate Swinney after the Sugar Bowl matchup was announced on Selection Sunday. If you didn’t believe him, maybe you do now, after Buckeye Nation chanted “Dabo! Dabo!” as the head coach walked off the field following the 21-point defeat.
- Despite the loss, it doesn’t sound like Swinney learned his lesson. One reporter gave Swinney the opportunity to admit regret in his ranking Ohio State No. 11 or talking about how the Buckeyes didn’t belong after the loss. But he didn’t back down, downplaying the role it played in providing his opponent with added motivation. Well, Swinney was wrong again. Talking with Big Ten Network after the game, analyst and former head coach Urban Meyer said that Swinney’s comments over the last two weeks served as incredible motivation for the team leading up to the Sugar Bowl.
Swinney is clearly one of the top coaches in college football, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Tigers back in the Playoff next year. His willingness to say just about anything is refreshing for college football, though we certainly understand why some find it annoying. However, moving forward, maybe it’s best to not completely trash your College Football Playoff opponent, especially one as talented as Ohio State.
JUST FOR FUN
Alabama claims 17 national championships in its storied football history. Ohio State claims eight. A total of nine different head coaches account for those 25 titles. For today’s quiz, can you name every head coach who has ever won a title for either the Crimson Tide or the Buckeyes?
Scroll down for the answers to today’s quiz.
DAN MULLEN RUMORS
Dan Mullen has been mentioned in a few NFL rumors. Would he leave Florida for a shot in the pros?
The 2020 college football coaching carousel has been spinning for a month now. But, the NFL wrapped up its regular season yesterday, meaning today is a day when many head coaches will learn whether they’ve been fired or not. Naturally, some top college coaches will at least be looked at for the NFL openings.
One name reportedly on some NFL lists is Florida head coach Dan Mullen. His name has popped up in NFL rumors before, but he hasn’t left the college ranks yet. Could he make the jump to the pros this offseason? Let’s take a look at what’s being said about Mullen:
- The rumors started over the weekend with the New York Jets. The Jets are expected to fire coach Adam Gase after Sunday’s regular-season finale. Mullen was mentioned by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport as a coach who would be in consideration for the job. Then, Sunday morning on ESPN, insider Adam Schefter said Mullen would be open to an NFL move. Yahoo’s Pete Thamel also thinks Mullen is a candidate for the NFL.
- Would Mullen actually consider a jump to the pro ranks, though? Well, in the buildup to the Cotton Bowl last week, Mullen said the NFL isn’t something he’s thought about, but he didn’t exactly rule it out, either. Sports Illustrated’s Zach Goodall says he wouldn’t be surprised if Mullen hears out any NFL team that comes calling. It doesn’t seem like NFL fans are too keen on Mullen making the jump, though.
- For now, Mullen continues to plan for the 2021 season in Gainesville. He’s reportedly making some big changes to the defensive coaching staff, but Florida fans are upset that DC Todd Grantham seems to be safe. This will be an interesting storyline to follow over the next couple of weeks, to be sure.
The NFL coaching carousel is about to start spinning at a rapid pace. Hirings and firings will be made quickly, and it’s a safe bet that some college teams will be impacted with the movement of coaches. Will Mullen make the jump, or will he return to Gainesville in 2021? We’ll find out soon enough!
The nine head coaches to win national championships at either Alabama or Ohio State are:
- Wallace Wade (1925, 1926, 1930)
- Frank Thomas (1934, 1941)
- Bear Bryant (1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979)
- Gene Stallings (1992)
- Nick Saban (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017)
- Paul Brown (1942)
- Woody Hayes (1954, 1957, 1961, 1968, 1970)
- Jim Tressel (2002)
- Urban Meyer (2014)
Will Ryan Day become the 10th coach to join this list? Or, will Saban add a sixth title at Alabama to his resume? We’ll find out in one week!
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“First, as we always do and should, congratulations to Texas A&M. They’ve got a great team. We knew that coming in. They should be a Playoff team. I think that watching them and watching Notre Dame, they’re so similar that you feel like that we should expand the Playoff, number one, so more guys will continue to play at the end of the year and it’ll help the bowl games. And number two, Texas A&M deserved to be in the Playoff, so give them credit for the year that they’ve had. They beat Florida. They lose one game to Alabama, like everybody else that’s played them has lost to them, and they’re big and they’re physical, and they do a great job coaching. They’ve got really, really good players.”
– North Carolina coach Mack Brown offered his praise to Texas A&M after Saturday night’s Orange Bowl loss to the Aggies. He said A&M deserved to be in the College Football Playoff, which is a sentiment many in College Station share after watching Alabama blow out Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl.
TWEET OF THE DAY
It was a historically bad bowl season for the ACC, which lost all six of its bowl games, including both College Football Playoff semifinals. Meanwhile, the SEC enjoyed a historically good bowl season, going 6-2 and beating a record six ranked teams in the process. Fans made sure to troll the ACC on Twitter for the 0-6 bowl record.