Crimson Tide Extra by Marq_Burnett
A source for full coverage of Alabama athletics.
Aug 05, 2013 | 83804 views |  0 comments | 52 52 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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Alabama QB Luke Del Rio announces plans to transfer via Twitter
by Marq_Burnett
Jan 15, 2014 | 959 views |  0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
TUSCALOOSA -- After redshirting his freshman season, Alabama walk-on quarterback Luke Del Rio is leaving the Crimson Tide.

 


Del Rio broke the news that he plans to transfer via Twitter on Wednesday.

 


"I had an incredible year at Bama, it's sad to say that it will be my last," Del Rio said in a Twitter post. "I'm excited for the next chapter of my life and what it will bring."

 


Del Rio did not give any specifics on where he'll transfer.

 


Del Rio is the son of Denver Bronco defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. He was the third string quarterback behind backup Blake Sims and starter AJ McCarron.

 


Del Rio was expected to compete for the starting job in 2014.

 


With Del Rio leaving, new offensive coordinator still has options at quarterback. Along with Sims, the Tide has Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman, Parker McLeod and David Cornwell on scholarship. 

Alabama hires Bo Davis as defensive line coach (report)
by Marq_Burnett
Jan 13, 2014 | 1093 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama has found its new defensive line coach in a familiar face.

Bo Davis will replace Chris Rumph as the Crimson Tide’s next defensive line coach.

The news comes as a bit of a surprise as Davis accepted the same position at Southern California last Tuesday.

USC’s athletic department’s official Twitter account confirmed the news on Monday.

“USC head coach Steve Sarkisian confirms that DL coach Bo Davis has accepted a similar position at Alabama,” the account posted.

Bamaonline.com first reported the story.

A current Alabama verbal pledge was also surprised by the news.

“Confused right now? Coach Davis just talked to me at USC 2 days ago,” Tide 2014 defensive line commit Josh Frazier said in a Twitter post.

This is the second straight season Tide coach Nick Saban has hired a coach away from a school that had just hired the respective coach. Last year, Saban hired Billy Napier (wide receivers coach) from Florida State and Mario Cristobal (offensive line coach) from Miami (Fla.).

Davis, 42, previously coached at Alabama from 2007-2011 before leaving for Texas in 2011. He was apart of the Tide's 2010 BCS National Championship team. He spent the past three seasons in Austin. Davis made a salary of $356,000 in Texas in 2013.

The 2014 season will be the ninth Davis has worked under Tide coach Nick Saban. He has worked with Saban at Alabama, LSU and in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins.

Davis was one of Saban’s original assistant coaches in 2007. During his time at Alabama, he is credited with helping develop Terrence Cody, Josh Chapman, Marcell Dareus and Brandon Deaderick, all of which are in the NFL.

Davis played his college ball at LSU in the early 1990s.

This is the Tide’s second coaching chance since the Sugar Bowl. Along with Davis, Lane Kiffin joined the staff as offensive coordinator to replace Doug Nussmeier.

Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri to enter NFL Draft (report)
by Marq_Burnett
Jan 12, 2014 | 1073 views |  0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama's defense may be losing another leader. 

Crimson Tide safety Vinnie Sunseri is expected to forego his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft, according to ESPN.com.

Sunseri missed the second half of the season after going down with a torn ACL. Sunseri is said to be ahead of schedule in his recovery. 

The Lane Kiffin effect: What the new offensive coordinator will mean to Alabama
by Marq_Burnett
Jan 12, 2014 | 990 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
TUSCALOOSA -- When looking for ways to judge Alabama’s hiring of Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, throw out much of his work as a head coach.

His exploits and win-loss record as a head coach won’t matter much at Alabama. Kiffin won’t have to be the face of the program or the CEO of the business. The Crimson Tide already has one of those in Nick Saban, and he is paid about $7 million a year to handle his job.

Kiffin, 38, won’t be required to talk to reporters on a regular basis, which sometimes landed him in trouble when he was a head coach. In fact, Doug Nussmeier, Kiffin’s predecessor, was allowed by the school to address reporters four times in two years.

So don’t expect Kiffin to be giving quotes after games. Saban’s “one voice” mantra won’t allow it. Kiffin won’t speak to reporters until August and after that, he won’t speak again until the bowl game.

In the university’s official release announcing the hiring, Kiffin said he feels “humbled and honored to be a part of the Crimson Tide family.” Having been fired from two of his three previous jobs, humbled is definitely the right word to use.

After some initial resistance on social media from fans, the Kiffin hire seems to be garnering support. According to an AL.com poll with 12,184 votes, close to 75 percent are OK with the Kiffin hire.

But the players who have spoken out have been mostly positive through social media.

“Excited already to see what this next year has in store!” Tide right tackle Austin Shepherd said in Twitter post.

Alabama backup quarterback Blake Sims, who Kiffin recruited while at Tennessee, said, “Want to welcome coach lane to the Tide. Will do very well for us this coming up (year).”

Coordinator/play-caller

In 2004, Kiffin served as USC’s passing game coordinator. That season, Matt Leinart won the Heisman Trophy, passing for 3,322 yards and 33 touchdowns.

But it was the next year, when Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian were named co-offensive coordinators to replace Norm Chow, when the Trojans’ offense took off.

The Trojans fielded the top offense in the country in 2005, averaging 49 points a game.

In 2005, USC became the first program to have a 3,000-yard passer (Matt Leinart), two 1,000-yard rushers (LenDale White and Heisman winner Reggie Bush) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Dwayne Jarrett).

Leinart threw for 3,815 yards, Bush rushed for 1,740, while Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett combined for 2,000 receiving yards.

As for the co-offensive coordinator arrangement, Kiffin called the plays from the press box with Sarkisian on the field as the quarterbacks coach. The two worked in unison, with head coach Pete Carroll having the final say in any disagreement.

In Kiffin’s only season at Tennessee, he improved the Vols’ offense by 34 spots in the national statistics in rushing, 61 in passing and 55 in total offense from the previous season.

Also, no team put up more yards against Alabama’s 2009 championship defense than Tennessee (339).

But since the 2005 season, no Kiffin-led offense has ranked in the top 20 statistically in college football. That includes the 2006 season at USC and 2009-2013 as the head coach at Tennessee and USC.

The recruiter

In the past five seasons, Kiffin hauled in a top 10 recruiting class four times, according to 247Sports, with the other class ranked in the top 15 (2013). During that same stretch, he has landed 11 five-star prospects, per 247Sports rankings.

The first class of this run came in 2009, his first at Tennessee. Kiffin wasn’t introduced as the coach until December 2008, making his first class a “half class,” but he still managed to pull in the No. 7 class nationally, according to 247Sports.

At USC, Kiffin battled scholarship restrictions and still brought in highly rated classes and top prospects from across the country.

JC Shurburtt, national recruiting director for 247Sports, called Kiffin an “upgrade” from Nussmeier from a recruiting standpoint. While Nussmeier is a good coordinator and play caller, Shurburtt said Kiffin is one of the best recruiters in the country with his ability to pull kids from anywhere and makes the Tide’s staff that much more dangerous.

With the 2014 National Signing Day fewer than four weeks away, Kiffin’s impact likely won’t be felt until the 2015 cycle. 

At Alabama

Kiffin will have only four major responsibilities: manage the offense, call plays, recruit and develop a quarterback.

Kiffin should provide some creativity to the offense, but ultimately will call plays within the confines of Saban’s system. He has a track record as a successful recruiter and with Alabama’s resources, he should ease into that aspect of the position.

With three-year starting quarterback AJ McCarron gone, identifying and nurturing the Tide’s next starter is paramount. 

Going back to his stint at Tennessee, his biggest improvement on the program was that of senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton. Kiffin and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney developed Crompton into a fifth-round NFL draft pick after he struggled his junior year. In his other situations at the college level, Kiffin inherited a starter from the previous regime.

While there are multiple options at Alabama, no quarterback on the roster has much experience. 

In a university news release, Saban said Kiffin “does an excellent job as a teacher.” If Alabama hopes to contend for another national championship in 2014, Kiffin’s best teaching job will be needed for the next quarterback. 

Alabama defensive line coach headed to Texas (reports)
by Marq_Burnett
Jan 11, 2014 | 788 views |  0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama defensive line coach Chris Rumph has accepted the same position at Texas, according to multiple online reports.

Rumph joined the Crimson Tide in 2011 and is considered one of the Tide’s top recruiters. Before joining the Tide, he spent five years as the defensive ends coach at Clemson.

Rumph, 42, made a salary of $360,000 in 2013.


Alabama hires Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator
by Marq_Burnett
Jan 10, 2014 | 1225 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama has hired Lane Kiffin as its new offensive coordinator, according to a news release from the school.

Kiffin, a former head coach at Tennessee and Southern California, will serve as Alabama’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. 

He will replace Doug Nussmeier, who recently accepted the same position at Michigan. Nussmeier served as Alabama's offensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013.

“We are excited to have Lane join our staff,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said in the release. “He is an outstanding and creative offensive coach who has great experience both at the college and NFL level. He has a very good understanding of the game and I have always been impressed with what I saw in the games he called.

"He coaches with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm, and also does an excellent job as a teacher. Lane will be an outstanding addition to our coaching staff and we look forward to him and his family joining us at the University of Alabama.”

Kiffin spent the last 3½ seasons as the head coach at USC, where he compiled a 28-15 record. He was fired five games into the 2013 season after going 3-2, including 0-2 in the Pac-12 Conference.

He led the Trojans to a 10-2 record in 2011 and a sixth-place finish in the final Associated Press poll. His 2011 USC offense produced a 3,500-yard passer, a pair of 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher. Before Kiffin’s arrival, the Trojans were averaging 26.5 points a game in scoring offense and 389.1 yards a game in total offense. In his first two seasons, those numbers increased to 31.0/431.5 in 2011 and 35.8/456.8 in 2012.

Saban invited Kiffin to Tuscaloosa in December to evaluate the Crimson Tide's offense as Alabama went through workouts for the Sugar Bowl.

“We want to thank the University of Alabama and Coach Saban for this tremendous opportunity, and we feel humbled and honored to be a part of the Crimson Tide family,” Kiffin said in a release. “I’ve always had the utmost respect for what Coach Saban has done with his programs. Having the unique opportunity to be here last month, I was able to meet some of the great players and the great people in the organization, and I’m very excited to start working with them.

"We’ve seen the passion and support of the Alabama fans firsthand, and when that’s combined with the storied history and tradition of the program, this is a very special place to coach.”

Kiffin served as the head coach at Tennessee in 2009, leading the Volunteers to a second-place finish in the SEC East and an appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Vols' offense jumped at least 34 places in every national statistical category over the 2008 figures.

Tennessee improved from 17.3 to 29.3 points a game while going from 268.8 to 383.5 yards a game in total offense. Kiffin came to Tennessee from the Oakland Raiders, where he served as head coach for 20 games from 2007-08. He was fired four games into the 2008 season.

Before his first head coaching job, Kiffin spent six years as an assistant coach for Pete Carroll at Southern California, including two years as the offensive coordinator (2005-06). During his first tenure with the Trojans, USC captured two national championships and compiled a 65-12 record. Kiffin was promoted to passing game coordinator in 2004 and helped Matt Leinart win the Heisman Trophy as he passed for 3,322 yards with 33 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

He took over as USC’s offensive coordinator in 2005 and led the Trojans to a scoring average of 49.1 points a game and 579.8 yards a game of total offense during his two years in the position. Kiffin started at USC in 2001 as the tight ends coach and then coached the wide receivers during his remaining five years.

Kiffin graduated from Fresno State in 1998 and was a student assistant for the Bulldogs under Pat Hill in 1997-98. He moved on to Colorado State in 1999 as offensive line assistant. He spent the 2000 season as defensive quality control assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars under Tom Coughlin.

Kiffin and his wife, Layla, have two daughters (Landry and Presley) and one son (Knox).

According to the university, all such employment contracts are subject to approval by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees.


Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio used logic, not emotions when deciding to leave early
by Marq_Burnett
Jan 10, 2014 | 457 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
TUSCALOOSA -- For Alabama left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, the most difficult part of his decision to leave school early was telling his brother, Arie Kouandjio, who started next to him at left guard this season. While Cyrus didn’t provide any details of the conversation, he said it was “very emotional.”

“I had to kind of exclude my emotions and use my logic,” he said.


Kouandjio is the fourth-ranked offensive tackle according to ESPN.com. Kouandjio said he received a first-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. 

Read more: Anniston Star - Four Tide players to enter NFL draft early 


Below Kouandjio discusses his Sugar Bowl performance and why he's leaving

 

Alabama safety HaHa Clinton-Dix always dreamed of jumping to the NFL after three years of college football
by Marq_Burnett
Jan 10, 2014 | 531 views |  0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
TUSCALOOSA -- Growing up, Alabama safety HaHa Clinton-Dix said he always dreamed of making the jump to the NFL after playing three years of college football. On Thursday, he took the first step toward making that dream a reality.  

Clinton-Dix is the top safety prospect, according to ESPN.com. Clinton-Dix, who missed two games because of suspension, was fourth on the team with 52 total tackles. He also had two interceptions and 3.5 tackles for loss. He said he received a first-round grade. Clinton-Dix said his suspension and injury “most definitely” factored into his decision.

“The suspension was my fault, a bad decision on my hands that I made,” Clinton-Dix said. “I was thankful and fortunate enough for the NCAA to appeal it and do my two-game suspension (so I could) be back with my team. Also, the knee injury was a scare. Thank God it wasn’t anything big. … What if I decided to come back and I break my neck or something? Then I can’t play ball anymore. That definitely played a role in it.”

If Clinton-Dix is taken in the first round, it will be the third straight year Alabama has had a defensive back taken in the opening round of the draft (Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick in 2012, and Dee Milliner in 2013).

Read more: Anniston Star - Four Tide players to enter NFL draft early 


Below, Clinton-Dix discusses why he's leaving Alabama early:

 

Four Alabama players to enter NFL Draft early
by Marq_Burnett
Jan 09, 2014 | 839 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Alabama left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio will enter the 2014 NFL Draft. (Photo by Trent Penny/Anniston Star)
Alabama left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio will enter the 2014 NFL Draft. (Photo by Trent Penny/Anniston Star)
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TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama will lose four players early to the NFL draft with safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, linebacker Adrian Hubbard and defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan deciding to forgo their senior seasons.

During Nick Saban’s tenure, 13 other players have left school early for the draft with 11 being drafted in the first round. Glen Coffee (third round) and Eddie Lacy (second round) were the only two not taken in the first round.

“They’ve done a wonderful job representing this institution, themselves, and this football program,” Saban said Thursday at a news conference at the school. “They’ve been a part of winning two national championships, 10-win seasons each year they have been here, and always been ranked in the top 10. … I know it’s difficult for each and everyone of them to make decisions. They all love The University of Alabama.

“They have to make a business decision about their future, what is best for their future.”

Kouandjio and Clinton-Dix are projected as first-round picks by most draft experts.

Kouandjio and Clinton-Dix are ranked 23rd and 25th, respectively, on ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s Big Board, which doesn’t factor in team needs.

Kouandjio and Clinton-Dix are third-year juniors and haven’t received their degrees.

Kouandjio is the fourth-ranked offensive tackle according to ESPN.com. Kouandjio said he received a first-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. For Kouandjio, the most difficult part of this decision was telling his brother, Arie Kouandjio, who started next to him at left guard this season. While Cyrus didn’t provide any details of the conversation, he said it was “very emotional.”

“I had to kind of exclude my emotions and use my logic,” he said.

Clinton-Dix is the top safety prospect, according to ESPN.com. Clinton-Dix, who missed two games because of suspension, was fourth on the team with 52 total tackles. He also had two interceptions and 3.5 tackles for loss. He also said he received a first-round grade. Clinton-Dix said his suspension and injury “most definitely” factored into his decision.

“The suspension was my fault, a bad decision on my hands that I made,” Clinton-Dix said. “I was thankful and fortunate enough for the NCAA to appeal it and do my two-game suspension (so I could) be back with my team. Also, the knee injury was a scare. Thank God it wasn’t anything big. … What if I decided to come back and I break my neck or something? Then I can’t play ball anymore. That definitely played a role in it.”

If Clinton-Dix is taken in the first round, it will be the third straight year Alabama has had a defensive back taken in the opening round of the draft (Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick in 2012, and Dee Milliner in 2013).

Hubbard is among the top 10 outside linebacker prospects, according to ESPN.com. Hubbard, a fourth-year junior, considered leaving early after last season. He received his degree in December.

Hubbard’s parents, Jerome and Cassandra Hubbard, attended Thursday’s news conference. Both are retired military and said they have stressed the importance of education since Adrian was young. Adrian is the first male Hubbard to graduate college.

“Like I used to tell Adrian, ‘You can be dumb, but you can’t be a dumb jock’,” Jerome said. “In other words, if you want to play sports, you must maintain your grades. That was put on the table for him at a very young age and he’s followed that. We’re excited and blessed that he stayed with the program.”

For the year, Hubbard had 33 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks compared to 41 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 2012. Because he graduated, Hubbard is eligible to play in the Senior Bowl, but hasn’t looked into the process. Hubbard said his review had him being drafted anywhere from the second to fourth rounds.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of grade they give you,” Hubbard said. “You still have to go out there and present yourself with a great deal of effort. You have to know how to work hard and always present yourself in the right manner.”

Pagan, a third-year junior, is considered to be the seventh-best defensive end prospect in this class. In his first year as a starter, Pagan had 34 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

Pagan said he received a third-round grade with a few saying he could be taken in second round. Pagan added he would have returned if his evaluation showed anything lower than the third round. Pagan suffered a season-ending knee injury during his senior year of high school and at the time, wondered if he ever would play football again.

“The biggest factor for me was being able to live my dream,” Pagan said. “Being able to actually play professional football when I thought I would never be able to play football again. It was one of those things that really pushed me towards coming out and my family understood that. They only wanted my happiness.”

Last season, the Tide lost three players early to the NFL draft. Cornerback Dee Milliner (ninth overall, New York Jets) and offensive tackle D.J. Fluker (11th, San Diego Chargers) were both taken in the first round, while Lacy was drafted in the second round (61st, Green Bay Packers).

Saban has said he doesn’t advise players to leave early if they don’t receive a first-round grade. 

Nick Saban comments on Michigan hiring Doug Nussmeier
by Marq_Burnett
Jan 09, 2014 | 675 views |  0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has officially accepted the same position at the University of Michigan.

While Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban is in the middle of his search for a replacement, Saban said Nussmeier “did an outstanding job” during his time at Alabama.

“He is a bright coach who works hard and brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to work each and every day,” Saban said in a Michigan release. “Our production and balance the last two years has been very good and he also brought a lot to the table in terms of coaching the quarterbacks.

AJ (McCarron) had one of the best seasons and careers of any quarterback here, and that says a lot when you look at the history and tradition of that position at Alabama. We wish Doug and his family the best and appreciate all they did to help us be successful with the program at Alabama.”

After three seasons as the offensive coordinator at Washington, Nussmeier joined the Tide in 2012 and spent two seasons in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama set records for rushing and passing touchdowns, total points scored and total offense during the 2012 national championship season.

“I am extremely excited to join the University of Michigan and work with Brady Hoke, the staff and players,” Nussmeier said in the UM release. “I'm proud of what we accomplished in two seasons at Alabama, and I owe a great deal to Coach Saban for that opportunity. Michigan is a program I've always had deep respect for, and I'm looking forward to getting started in Ann Arbor and being a part of the great tradition there.”

According to CBSSports.com, Nussmeier is expected to be among the five highest-paid coordinators in college football. Nussmeier made $680,000 at Alabama in 2013.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke announced the news on the team’s official website.

“Doug is a highly respected offensive coordinator and has earned a reputation as being a great mentor to quarterbacks, specifically, where he's coached Pro Bowlers, top NFL draft choices and Heisman Trophy finalists,” Hoke said in UM’s release. “Doug has been successful at every coaching stop with his balanced and explosive offenses, and he brings national championship experience. He is an excellent addition to our coaching staff and football program, and we are excited to have Doug, Christi and their children join the Michigan family.”


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