By Walter Villa | May 17, 2018
Special to espnW
Courtesy the Gusters family
With a knack for finding the bottom of the basket, Hannah Gusters will try out for the USA Basketball U17 team later this month.
The guards were guarded.
Deja Kelly, a University of Texas recruit, wasn't open. Sarah Andrews, the No. 4 prospect in the espnW Terrific 25 for the 2020 class, was being overplayed. But Nike ProSkills needed a 3-pointer to tie it in the waning seconds of a recent game.
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The college football world has been abuzz since Jalen Hurts was benched in the national title game, sat in favor of true freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who looked like the superior passer in that game by far. The future of Hurts at Alabama not surprisingly as a result has become uncertain.
As it stands, there has not been a starter named for Alabama yet — but Tagovailoa looked a lot sharper in spring practice and looks to be the favorite for the job. That being said, if Hurts were to lose the starting job and transfer, he would be one of the most sought-after transfer quarterbacks in quite some time.
Amid the schools that could be in the running, how would the Florida Gators look as a fit?
Mullen had a front row seat to Hurts at his best, when the sophomore led the Tide to a comeback win over Mississippi State last season, easily the Tide’s best win of the regular season and a huge reason Alabama was able to win Nick Saban a sixth national championship.
Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
Someday Nick Saban will no longer be the coach at Alabama, and many have already talked about Clemson’s Dabo Swinney succeeding him in Tuscaloosa.
Swinney knows the talk is out there, but he’s not particularly eager to entertain it. In fact, the one-time Crimson Tide assistant did not sound like a guy eager to leave a successful program at Clemson to take on the sky-high expectations at Alabama.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re behind Nick or not at Alabama,” Swinney said, via Chris Low of ESPN. “Listen, I spent 13 years there, so I get it. I know exactly what that mentality is and something I’ve tried to always fight here. You don’t see that anywhere in our building, that it’s national championship or bust. Our team goals are to win the opener, win the division, win the state championship, win the conference and win the closer."
“Now, hopefully, this will be a job that will be hard on the next guy because we’ve created a standard. That’s what you want. You want to take over a job that has a winning tradition, has high expectations and has everybody fully invested. To me, I’d rather have that than take over a program that everybody is fired for a reason. We have all that and then some right here at Clemson.”
By Rhiannon Potkey | May 16, 2018
Special to espnW
Alison P. McNabb/Tennessee Athletics
Tennessee sophomore Chelsea Seggern, pictured batting, has combined with senior Meghan Gregg for 129 RBIs this season.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- They had attended several combines to scout potential players. But riding in a combine? That was a completely new recruiting experience for Ralph and Karen Weekly.
In an era when even home visits are exceedingly rare, the Tennessee softball co-head coaches made a farm visit three years ago to see their newest commitment.
Frost, the reigning Coach of the Year, would like to see the playoff field expand. Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Frost knows firsthand just how tough the College Football Playoff can be to teams outside the Power 5 conferences. Last season he was the head coach at UCF, which got left out of the playoff despite being unbeaten. They proved how good they are with a win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl. Even though he’s now at a major school in Nebraska, Frost thinks college football should expand the playoff to include eight teams instead of its current four.
“Right now there’s a system in place that crowns the national championship,” Frost told Mike Bianchi during a radio interview on 96.9 The Game in Orlando on Thursday. “I think that system is better than it was when I was in college and two great teams still couldn’t play each other. … I really think an eight-team system with maybe five conference champions and three at-large teams would open up the door for a team like UCF or any other team that has a great year to get in.
“Sports is the best when you can decide these things on the field.”
Like Frost said, the college football postseason has made significant improvements over time. It wasn’t that long ago where due to the bowl system, it was tough to get the two best teams to face each other in the postseason. There was the BCS, and now there’s the playoff, which features four teams.
McElroy, to no surprise, thinks highly of his alma mater versus the upstarts. Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy threw more cold water on the UCF party.
The SEC Network analyst was on ESPNU Radio on SiriusXM on Monday and talked about UCF, which is still celebrating their “national championship” for going 13-0 despite not winning the College Football Playoff. McElroy says that if a national title were on the line, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and even Auburn would have beaten UCF.
“Alabama would dust (UCF),” he said, via AL.com. “So would Clemson. So would Georgia. So would all those teams. They would dust Central Florida if a national championship was on the line.
“And you know what? Auburn would to.”
Pruitt is going to make a grand impact in Knoxville according to a former Alabama quarterback. Caitie McMekin-USA TODAY Sports
After a whirlwind of moves for Tennessee football in the past year, the Volunteers finally settled on a head coaching hire in former Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Pruitt is one of many former Alabama assistants to land notable head-coaching gigs, including Kirby Smart at Georgia and Jimbo Fisher, now at Texas A&M.
There has been a lot of hype surrounding the Pruitt hire and what he will bring to the table, and former SEC quarterbacks are starting to notice the upside.
“He scares me more at Tennessee than Kirby does at Georgia,” former Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson said, via CBS Sports. “Georgia is going to be good, but down the road, Jeremy scares me more than Kirby does at Georgia.
“I just think as a head coach, not only recruiting but bringing in other coaches, having a good staff … we haven’t seen Tennessee be really good in 10 years,” Wilson said. “His ability to get them back, he’s got a higher ceiling than Georgia does. And I know the recruiting [Georgia] can do just an hour down the road in Atlanta is pretty strong.
Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
There’s no indication that Alabama coach Nick Saban is going anywhere anytime soon, but ESPN college football analyst Paul Finebaum thinks there’s only one person who can replace him when that time comes.
Finebaum thinks Clemson’s Dabo Swinney ticks all the boxes Alabama would be looking for, and that as it stands, he’s the only option for the Crimson Tide when the 66-year-old Saban ultimately calls it a day.
“Who knows when Saban’s day will come, but I’m going to put a couple chips down on the long-shot now,” Finebaum told The RoundTable on JOXFM, via Brad Crawford of 247 Sports. “It’s no longer off the board. I saw it. His wife grew up in Alabama. His family is from Alabama. That will be a fascinating gravitational pull when Alabama calls and says, ‘OK, Dabo. It’s time to come home.’ I don’t know if it’s as absolute as it was a couple months ago.
“I’m probably going to upset somebody here, but you get right down to it, it’s Alabama versus Clemson. It’s no contest. If you’re thinking about, ‘OK, where do I really want to be long-term,’ and I think because he’s from Alabama, I’m going to keep pushing that ball up the hill. And the fact that he’s already won that championship … Nobody wants to replace Saban — it’s an impossible task, but I will say this, before anyone says it’s impossible to replace Nick Saban, I think the only person who can replace Nick Saban is Dabo Swinney.”
There's growing pressure for the Los Angeles Lakers to trade for Kawhi Leonard before recruiting LeBron James and Paul George in free agency, according to an ESPN report on Wednesday. However, the San Antonio Spurs haven't ruled out any potential teams in a possible Leonard deal.
What trades work for the All-Star forward? Our NBA Insiders give their best seven deals.
Lakers get: Kawhi Leonard
Magic get: Joffrey Lauvergne, 2020 Lakers second-round pick, $1.7 million cash (from Lakers)
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Saban was not disappointed with Jalen Hurts after Alabama’s spring game on Saturday despite some thoughts to the contrary.
Hurts was 19 for 37 with 195 yards and an interception against the first-team defense. He also rushed for 33 yards.
A video began circulating online that showed Saban seemingly expressing frustration with Hurts for scrambling on a play rather than trying to pass. Here’s the video:
After the game, Saban made it clear that he was not disappointed with Hurts.
"I guess anybody has the prerogative to claim anything. But self-proclaimed is not the same as actually earning it," Saban told USA Today in a story published Tuesday. "And there's probably a significant number of people who don't respect people who make self-proclaimed sort of accolades for themselves."
Saban's team beat Georgia 26-23 in an overtime thriller to win the national championship that most people recognize, the College Football Playoff title. Alabama had routed defending champion Clemson 24-6 to reach the final game.Nick Saban holds up Alabama's championship trophy after beating Georgia to win the national title. AP Photo/David J. Phillip
UCF finished the regular season 12-0, the only undefeated team in FBS. However, because of their schedule, the Knights were ranked only No. 12 in the country when the four teams were chosen for the College Football Playoff.
Then the Knights went on to beat Auburn, which had handed Alabama its only loss, in the Peach Bowl on New Year's Day. Hence, the national champion claims.
OCALA, Fla. -- One of the Florida Gators' top football recruits was released from jail early Wednesday after allegedly kicking a woman's car and breaking her cellphone during an argument.
Justin Watkins, a four-star prospect and incoming freshman from Clermont's East Ridge High School, was arrested Tuesday on a misdemeanor complaint of trespassing on school grounds. According to jail records, he was released on a $500 bond.
According to the Ocala Police affidavit obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, Watkins followed a female student to a local gas station and shattered her cellphone by throwing it to the ground. He then followed her to her school, Ocala's Vanguard High, and kicked her car multiple times and tried to flatten one of her tires, according to the police report.
Gators coach Dan Mullen says he is aware of the arrest and "still collecting information."
Watkins was the No. 28 overall player in the ESPN 300.
Georgia issued a statement saying Johnson died early Wednesday in Athens.
Johnson took over as the Bulldogs' starting quarterback in 1971 and led the team to an 11-1 record that included a Gator Bowl victory. He set a Southeastern Conference sophomore rushing record and finished second in the league with 870 yards on the ground, along with 13 touchdowns.
Johnson started two more seasons for the Bulldogs and finished his career with 1,799 rushing yards, the most by a quarterback at that time.
A fifth-round pick by New England, Johnson played 94 games -- including 43 starts -- before finishing his career with the USFL's Boston Breakers. He rushed for a career-high 699 yards with six touchdowns for the Patriots in 1976.
But if any Wolverines fans are unhappy with Harbaugh, athletic director Warde Manuel is not one of them.
Manuel, speaking Tuesday at a meeting of Big Ten athletic directors, says he wants Harbaugh and basketball coach John Beilein to stay at Michigan until they're ready to retire.Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has a contract that runs for four more years. Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports
"I love my coaches across the board, love those two guys in particular," Manuel said. "I'm extremely pleased with where we are from a staffing, coaching standpoint and Jim and John are two people that I would love to see retire from this institution, retire from coaching.
"Jim ... knows how I feel about him. We've had great conversations and I don't want him to go anywhere."
Alabama and Texas have agreed to play a home-and-home series in 2022 and 2023. The Crimson Tide will travel to Texas on Sept. 10 in 2022. The Longhorns will return the trip to Tuscaloosa on Sept. 9 in 2023.
Because of this agreement, Texas and Ohio State have moved their previously scheduled home-and-home series back to 2025 (Austin) and 2026 (Columbus).
Texas and Alabama last played in the 2010 BCS national championship game, the Crimson Tide's only victory in the series. Texas owns a 7-1-1 record against Alabama.
With the Crimson Tide on the schedule, Texas also announced it has canceled a home game with UCF that had been slated for 2023.
Concerns about size and behavior had been answered for a few weeks before the card was turned in; Mayfield’s tape and interviews told the Browns what they needed to know.
"The guy knows how to play the game, and knows how to win," general manager John Dorsey said the first night of the draft.
It’s as succinct a summary as there is of the way the Browns feel about Mayfield, the guy they believe will be their future. The team’s work and research, first-person and otherwise, had pointed them to the former Oklahoma quarterback with surety.
LOS ANGELES -- Former USC assistant football coach Todd McNair's defamation trial against the NCAA is now in the hands of the jury.
During closing arguments Friday, McNair's attorney, Bruce Broillet, called for an award of roughly $27 million in actual damages. The figure does not include potential punitive damages and was scoffed at by his opposing counsel, Kosta Stojilkovic, who argued McNair had not met his burden and should not receive anything from the NCAA.
In a civil trial such as this one, the plaintiff's side (McNair) presents its closing argument first, the defense follows before the plaintiff gets a rebuttal.
Broillet took about two hours to methodically resurface what he deemed to be the NCAA's most damning missteps during its investigation into McNair's involvement in the Reggie Bush impermissible-benefits scandal and the hearing and appeals process that followed. Bush was provided with hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits, including a house for his parents, during his career at USC by an aspiring agent, Lloyd Lake, and his business partner.
Among other things, Broillet chose to focus on factual mistakes by NCAA investigators during separate interviews they conducted with Lake and McNair about a short phone call Lake made to McNair in the early morning hours of Jan. 8, 2006. During their interview with Lake, a portion of which was played twice for the jury during the trial, investigators incorrectly represented it was McNair who called Lake. And when they asked McNair about the call, they told him it occurred a year earlier than phone records show it did.