NCAA Football News

Alabama Football: Signee Lester Cotton Holds Legacy of Central High in His Hands

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.— After Lester Cotton signed his national letter of intent on signing day in the auditorium at Central High School, there was no need for him to send it as a fax.

Cotton could have walked out the front door of Central High School, turned right onto 10th avenue, crossed 15th street and the railroad tracks, gone three more short blocks and personally handed his letter to Nick Saban at Bryant-Denny Stadium in less than a mile.

As the Crimson Tide’s recruiting has become more and more national, Cotton’s signing is notable in that he plays right down the road from UA’s campus. If the sun sets just right, Central is literally in the shadows of Bryant-Denny Stadium.

He’s also one of the top prospects in Alabama’s 2015 haul. Cotton is the highest-rated offensive lineman in Alabama’s class and the No. 4 guard in the country, per 247Sports.

But Cotton’s Alabama legacy has a chance to be so much more even than that.

Cotton represents hope for a community stifled by political injustice. He can be a role model for so many kids who grew up watching Cotton maul helpless defensive linemen on Friday nights and then Alabama do the same to SEC teams on Saturdays.

It’s a lot of weight to put on the shoulders of an 18-year-old, even those of a 6’4”, 325-pound manchild.

Central High School has a dark history in a state known more for its blemishes in social justice than its progress.

Central was once a model school for integration in Tuscaloosa. In 1979, under a federal desegregation order, Central was formed by the merger of two local schools.

But 20 years later, the order was lifted. The result was two new Tuscaloosa County high schools, Northridge and Bryant, instead of building a mega-school that everyone in the county would attend. That left Central with a 100 percent African-American population, despite opposition from citizens, students and teachers.

It wasn’t a stretch at all to call this modern-day segregation.

According to, in 2012-13 school year, just three of the school’s 720 students were white, the rest being African-American. 82 percent of those students were eligible for free lunch with another five qualifying for a reduced price.

This gerrymandering was re-explored last spring, 60 years after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision that resulted in the original integration, most notably in Pro Publica and The Atlantic.

Cotton can help write a positive chapter in Central’s history.

“It's a sense of responsibility to himself,” Central football coach Dennis Conner said shortly after Cotton’s signing ceremony. “Then after that, he takes the responsibility of carrying the legacy of all the young men who have graduated from Central.”

He’s already helping to elevate Central’s story to the national stage.

ESPN spent this past football season with Cotton, Conner and Central to produce a mini-documentary of sorts about the school, its history and its present conditions. ESPN’s Tommy Tomlinson wrote a companion piece that focuses on Cotton and his role in all of this.

“It was real fun,” Cotton said on signing day of working with ESPN. “I got a chance to put my community out and let them see how it really is.”

In his senior year, Central went to the playoffs for just the second time since 2008, getting bounced in the first round.

“It was hard because I had to tone down a little bit. I had to watch some of the things I said because during the whole game you're mic'd up,” Conner said. “I was still able to coach the way I coach. My whole thing in coaching is to get the young men to understand how important it is to be a scholar in the classroom, but also do your very best on the field.”

Cotton projects as either a guard or tackle. He played tackle at Central but was listed by most recruiting services as a guard in college.

It’s unclear when Cotton will see the field at Alabama. Offensive linemen almost always redshirt their first season as they learn the intricacies of one of the more complex positions to play in college.

Still, Alabama will have three openings for starters on the offensive line, two at guard and one at tackle.

“Right now,” Cotton said. “I'm just going in and I'm going to compete.”

But Cotton doesn’t need to play right away to be impactful to his high school. All Cotton needs to do is put in hard work right down the street from the Alabama practice fields, and show what can be achieved when you don’t let barriers put in front of you by others get in your way.

“They're looking up to me a lot,” Cotton said. “They want me to go in and really be something.”


Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes and reporting were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Ohio State Buckeyes 2016 Dream Recruiting Class

The Ohio State Buckeyes won the CFP National Championship last season, but they are not going to stop there. They are already reloading with the start of a stellar 2016 recruiting class. 

Stephen Nelson sits down with Bleacher Report's Lead Ohio State Writer Ben Axelrod to discuss Ohio State's dream 2016 recruiting class. 

Who are the must-have recruits for OSU in 2016?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Where LSU, USC Turn After 5-Star QB Shea Patterson Commits to Ole Miss

Ole Miss added another prized prospect to its impressive 2016 recruiting class Tuesday afternoon when Shea Patterson pledged to the Rebels:

The 5-star quarterback announced his collegiate intentions during a ceremony at Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana. Patterson initially committed to Arizona as a freshman but reopened his recruitment last summer. 

Ole Miss lands a promising passer who threw for 5,083 yards, 72 touchdowns and just seven interceptions during the past two seasons. He is rated third nationally among pro-style quarterbacks and 17th overall in 247Sports' composite rankings. 

Patterson provides Ole Miss with a potentially dominant duo in the passing game. He joins fellow 5-star DeKaylin Metcalf, a wide receiver who committed to the Rebels in 2013 and projects as an immediate impact playmaker in Oxford.

Patterson ultimately picked Ole Miss over a pair of top contenders—USC and LSU.

"I've been to all three schools and to a game at each place," Patterson told Bleacher Report national recruiting analyst Damon Sayles. "Whenever I go to a game, I try to visualize myself in their uniform and with their fans. I try to get that sense of can I see myself playing there.

"I only saw it with one school."

Despite extensive efforts from coaching staffs in Los Angeles and Baton Rouge, Patterson will make his impact at Ole Miss. The early decision gives both programs ample time to identify alternative options at quarterback.

LSU is certainly seeking an infusion of talent at the position.

The Tigers finished last among SEC teams in passing yards (162.9 per game) last fall. Sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris both failed to lock down "quarterback of the future" status during an 8-5 season.

Les Miles, who employed Patterson's older brother on his coaching staff last season, is likely looking to land two quarterbacks in this class.

He already secured a commitment from 4-star Florida product Feleipe Franks.

The 6'5", 220-pound prospect is rated No. 1 nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks in composite rankings. He pledged to LSU last June and helps take some of the sting away from losing a top in-state target like Patterson.

If the Tigers continue to seek a second prospect behind center—and our belief is that will be the case—Maryland quarterback Dwayne Haskins is a marquee member of this class worth keeping on your radar.

He received an LSU offer earlier this month and expressed interest in visiting campus shortly after Patterson's announcement:

USC was viewed as a distant third among finalists for Patterson due in large part to proximity and players already in place on the team.

Still, the Trojans remained a member of his final mix down to the wire.

Steve Sarkisian signed a couple of 4-star passers (Ricky Town and Sam Darnold) earlier this month. Neither player will be counted on to contribute immediately at USC, as the roster features depth and experience at quarterback.

Still, don't expect the Trojans staff to rest on its laurels there. 

Southern California standout KJ Costello, rated fourth nationally among pro-style quarterbacks, is the primary concern moving ahead. His skill set features one of the nation's strongest arms and accurate deep-ball touch that few passers in this class can match.

USC and LSU missed on a possible college superstar Tuesday when Patterson opted to become a Rebel, but both programs remain in stable condition at quarterback as the 2016 recruiting cycle rolls forward.


Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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10 College Football Teams Whose Defense Is Their Calling Card

Offense dominates the national college football conversation, but despite the increased scoring numbers and the frantic pace of play, some teams still make their living on defense.

These teams, while rare, have proved over a sustained length of time that they can take it to opposing offenses. They are physical and disciplined and always give their team a chance to win, even when their own offense struggles.

This list made heavy use of the F/+ ratings at Football Outsiders, an opponent-adjusted metric for efficiency. It also looked for prolonged defensive success as the benchmark of a program.

Teams like Ole Miss and Clemson, for example, fielded top-five defenses last season, but before that, they had not made defense their calling card. Same goes for Florida State and Wisconsin, who have relied as much on offense as on defense.

They are not what we were looking for.

Instead, we looked for programs that have forged a legit defensive identity. We measured F/+ over a five-year sample, but even three straight years of high-level play was enough. Really, we just didn't want to overreact after one or two great seasons.

Sound off below, and let us know what you think.

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5-Star QB Shea Patterson Reveals Why He Committed to Ole Miss in B/R Exclusive

For Shreveport, Louisiana, 5-star quarterback Shea Patterson, the basic art of visual processing made his college recruiting a lot simpler than expected. 

In front of family and friends at Calvary Baptist Academy, Patterson announced his verbal commitment to Ole Miss and became the Rebels' top-ranked pledge and ninth pledge overall. Patterson chose Ole Miss over offers from LSU, USC and a host of other programs.

For Patterson, the decision came down to comfort. As his three favorites—Ole Miss, LSU and USC—all had great campus environments and solid coaching staffs, he made his choice with the help of reminiscing how he felt after each trip.

"I've been to all three schools and to a game at each place," Patterson said of the three schools. "Whenever I go to a game, I try to visualize myself in their uniform and with their fans. I try to get that sense of can I see myself playing there.

"I only saw it with one school."

Patterson has made a couple of trips to Ole Miss, the latest coming the weekend of Jan. 31. He was in Oxford when Ole Miss played Auburn on Nov. 1. It was the game where Laquon Treadwell suffered a gruesome leg injury late in the fourth quarter.

Patterson said there was a different feeling in the air after that game, one that made him feel like he could immediately call Ole Miss home.

"I've been there two or three times, and every time, I've gotten a new sense of being comfortable," Patterson said. "When Treadwell got hurt...I don't know, it was just a different feeling. I was just sitting there and visualizing if I could play there. Watching the crowd after [the injury] happened, I felt so comfortable afterward."

Ole Miss gets the nation's No. 3 pro-style quarterback and the No. 17 overall player in the 247Sports player rankings for the Class of 2016. According to The (Shreveport) Times, Patterson threw for 2,428 yards and 38 touchdowns as a junior, and he led Calvary High School to its second straight Louisiana Division III championship. In two years, he's thrown for 5,083 yards, 72 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.

Recruited by quarterbacks coach Dan Werner, Patterson said the relationships built with the members of the coaching staff also made his decision a fairly easy one. Patterson said he speaks with Werner almost daily.

Patterson's recruiting started early. As a freshman, Patterson received an offer from Arizona, and on Dec. 7, 2012, he verbally committed to the Wildcats. After taking a few months to re-evaluate his process—one that included more than 20 offers—Patterson decommitted from Arizona in July 2014.

One of Patterson's first visits to Ole Miss came in 2013 before entering his sophomore year. His love for the school and his respect for head coach Hugh Freeze have been high ever since.

"Since I first went there, I knew that was a place I could see myself," he said, "but I think I've known pretty solid I wanted to commit there for about two-and-a-half weeks."

Now that the commitment is done, Patterson said he plans on being an ace player-recruiter for the Rebels. He has a few players on his list to help the Rebels ultimately sign, including 4-star wide receiver Mykel Jones, 4-star running back Devin White, 4-star defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence, 4-star receiver Devin Duvernay, 4-star receiver Clyde Leflore and 3-star Arizona running back commit Trevor Speights.

"[Committing] is just the start of my recruiting process," Patterson said. "I'm going to do the best I can to help bring the best class there. Mykel's one of my best friends. We've definitely talked about going to school together. Devin's a Bo Jackson-type, and Rashard's been on my radar.

"A guy like Trevor will be hard to flip, though. I know he really likes Arizona, but I'm going to try and get him, too. Whatever he does, I'm happy with, though."

Patterson said he's planning on participating in the Rivals Quarterback Challenge March 15 in Dallas and the Elite 11 competition March 28 in New Orleans. Patterson has aspirations of graduating in December and becoming an early enrollee for spring 2016. 


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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Shea Patterson Commits to Ole Miss: 5-Star Is QB of the Future for Rebels

Shea Patterson, a 5-star quarterback, according to 247 Sports, has committed to the Ole Miss Rebels. The No. 3-rated pro-style QB will have a great impact for the Rebels in the future.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down his game and what he can bring to the Rebels over the next few years. 

Where will Patterson fit in? Check out the video and let us know! 

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Shea Patterson to Ole Miss: Rebels Land 5-Star QB Prospect

Ole Miss won't have to worry about the quarterback position for the next few years after securing the commitment of one of the top signal-callers in the 2016 recruiting class.  

According to Ben Garrett of, Shea Patterson will be heading to Oxford:

Patterson is the No. 3-ranked pro-style quarterback and 17th-best player overall in 247Sports' composite rankings. He's one of only three QBs to earn the 5-star designation on the site.

One of Patterson's biggest drawbacks is his size. At 6'2" and 195 pounds, he lacks the ideal height for the position. As hard as he works, he's not going to make himself any taller.

A few years ago, that might have been a bigger concern. However, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees are the two most prominent examples of QBs who've thrived despite being undersized. They're a testament to the fact that talent shines through no matter what.

And Patterson has talent in abundance.

He's very mobile in the pocket, able to scramble and create some more time for himself. That skill will allow him to thrive in just about any offensive scheme.

Patterson truly shines when coiling back and releasing a perfect spiral.'s Derek Tyson captured two Vines, the first in June 2014 and the second the following January, which demonstrate just how polished Patterson is:

Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue also praised Patterson's arm strength, which he felt was one of the reasons Patterson could emerge as the top QB in 2016:

Patterson had originally committed to Arizona before ultimately walking back on that decision in July 2014.

"When I went on a visit to another college, I couldn't really enjoy myself; now I can," he said at the time, per James Smith of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. "He (Rich Rodriguez) was glad that I called him and not anyone else. I called him because he was the one that offered me in the beginning. He told me they are going to continue to recruit me."

Upon un-tethering himself from the Wildcats, Patterson quickly became one of the most sought-after players in the country. The list of schools to offer him a scholarship was a who's who of college football elite.

Hugh Freeze and his staff deserve a ton of credit for building the most compelling case and selling Patterson on Ole Miss.  

There's no limit to what Patterson can accomplish in college.


All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Jim Harbaugh Working with Future NFL QBs Great for Michigan Recruiting

Even quarterbacks from other schools need Jim Harbaugh's help before the NFL Scouting Combine.

How's that for a recruiting pitch?

Michigan's new head coach spent the weekend with Jameis Winston (Florida State) and Bryce Petty (Baylor), prepping the pair of all-conference quarterbacks for what they'll see in Indianapolis.

The Wolverines' official twitter account shared a photo of the group in Ann Arbor:

Winston and Petty were sent to Harbaugh by quarterback tutor George Whitfield, who wanted them to get a head start on the combine. A Michigan spokesman said the intent was "to get acclimated to the time and weather, and throw in an indoor facility before going to Lucas Oil (Stadium)," per Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press.

And before you start complaining: No, Harbaugh's time could not have been better spent with Shane Morris, Wilton Speight, Alex Malzone, Zach Gentry and the other quarterbacks on Michigan's roster.

The Wolverines don't open spring camp until Feb. 24, at which point Harbaugh can start developing his own signal-callers. But until then, there is no harm in him tutoring Winston and Petty.

In fact, there is something to gain.

The goal of most high school and college players is to get drafted into the NFL. Winston was the No. 1 overall pick in Matt Miller's most recent B/R mock draft, and there's no realistic scenario in which he drops past the first few spots. Getting him in a room with Harbaugh is easy, cheap, risk-free exposure.

If a pair of 7,900-yard college passers can benefit from a weekend with Harbaugh, imagine what you, 5-star prospect, can learn in four years!

This sentiment aligns with what Gentry, the No. 175 overall player in the 2015 recruiting class, said of Harbaugh after flipping from Texas to Michigan in January. "He kind of molded Andrew Luck into what he is today," the 6'7" recruit told Snyder.

"When Jim Harbaugh is calling you, you're excited."

The Wolverines did not tweet this picture on accident.

They and Harbaugh have made a special effort to connect with younger players through social media. Harbaugh, who started his new Twitter account in January, has been trolling Ohio State with passive-aggressive quotes and making Rick Ross references.

"Former coach Brady Hoke didn't tweet and said he could barely figure out technology, making the program feel old and decrepit," wrote Joshua Henschke in a special for the Detroit Free Press"Harbaugh's return to the Twitterverse (he was a big tweeter in his Stanford days) gives the sense that things are already being run differently."

Tuesday's tweet came not from Harbaugh's personal account, but it might as well have. It was less facetious but sent the same message to recruits: Come to Michigan. We care about you. We can help you reach the NFL. Even a former Heisman Trophy winner knows that.

That's a pretty hard pitch to say no to.


Note: All recruiting info refers to the 247Sports composite rankings.

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Can Miami Realistically Hold onto No. 1 Recruiting Class for 2016?

No school is off to a faster start in the 2016 recruiting cycle than the Miami Hurricanes.

Al Golden and his staff are already up to 17 commitments in the ‘Canes 2016 class after landing commitments from 3-star receiver Isaiah Chambers and running back McArthur Bennett on Monday.

Miami’s class is currently far and away the nation’s top rated class.

But can the ‘Canes can stay atop the rankings for the next 11 and a half months? 

Undoubtedly, recruiting powers such as Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and USC are destined to climb the rankings and challenge for the top spot. 

However, the answer to that question primarily depends on a few things—a couple of which are in their control.

Can Miami hold onto the majority of its top-rated commitments, and can they close out strong on a few other highly-rated prospects they are heavily pursuing?

Decommitments plagued Miami’s 2015 class after Golden and his staff got off to another fast start at this time a year ago.

There’s already one early commitment who admits that he’s wavering in his pledge.

Amir Rasul, a 3-star running back who committed to Miami in late January, is keeping his options open to other schools, according to David Lake of InsideTheU.

“I would say my commitment to Miami is not strong,” Rasul told Lake. “I would say it is medium because I still have my options open. I am waiting for more offers to come in.”

Another pair of Hurricane commits in 4-star receiver Sam Bruce and 4-star linebacker Shaquille Quarterman are also being pursued by other powerhouse programs, and both appear to at least be listening to overtures from other schools.

Bruce told Ryan Bartow of 247Sports recently that his recruitment is, “going to go the whole way.” Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State and Oregon are among the schools who are after the nation’s No. 4 receiver and the No. 38 player overall in the 2016 cycle.

New Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is pursuing Quarterman, and according to Clint Brewster of Wolverine247, the nation’s No. 3 inside linebacker prospect is interested and may take a trip to Ann Arbor in the summer.

On the flip side, one of the ‘Canes highest-rated 2016 pledges—4-star receiver Dionte Mullins—remains firm in his commitment despite schools such as Alabama coming after him, according to Bartow.

The ‘Canes have to hold on to that trio of studs who are currently the anchors of their class. What would help their 2016 group have staying power is adding another batch of potential difference-makers to round out the class.

That means landing players such as 5-star defensive end Shavar Manuel—who is the top prospect in the Sunshine State and the nation’s top pass-rushing prospect.

According to Josh Newberg of Noles247, Manuel admits he grew up a fan of the Hurricanes.

"Miami is the school. I've always been a Miami fan since I was a youngin' back in elementary school," Manuel told Newberg. "When I talked to coach (Larry) Scott and he offered I was speechless."

Additionally, the ‘Canes have touted prospects such as 4-star defensive end Patrick Bethel and 4-star receiver Freddie Pinder who are heavily interested in heading to Coral Gables for their college careers.

What could prove to be the biggest help to the ‘Canes recruiting efforts is a strong showing on the field in 2015.

Regardless, Miami has an opportunity to land one of the nation’s premier classes in the 2016 cycle. It’s up to Golden and his staff to maintain the program’s current momentum and seal the deal on signing day next February.


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.


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Alabama's Insane $33 Million Profit from Football Proves Nick Saban's Value

At nearly $7 million annually, Alabama head coach Nick Saban carries the highest price tag for anyone in college football. Consider such check-writing an investment for Alabama. And, boy oh boy, are the Tide getting a return on that investment. 

Michael Casagrande of reported Monday that Alabama athletics generated a surplus of more than $33 million for the 2013-14 fiscal year. That number is nearly $6 million more than the $27 million surplus from the 2012-13 fiscal year:  

The most recent Alabama gains came with a 6.6 percent revenue growth in 2013-14 as football continues to drive the ship. Nick Saban's program had a $53.3 million surplus with revenues of $95.3 million.

The expenses rose by less than a million from 2012-13 but the revenue jumped by nearly $7 million. The biggest football gains came from royalties ($4.5 million from $1.3 million), broadcast, television, radio and Internet rights ($9.1 million from $7.2 million) and contributions ($20.7 million from $18.9 million).

In the conversation about college football's place in the academic arena, Alabama is an example of why it can be both a big business and important to a university's profile. 

How Alabama's on-the-field success has impacted the program is evident. With the exception of Saban's first year in 2007, Alabama has enjoyed at least 10 wins every season since 2008. Under Saban, the Tide have won four SEC West titles, three SEC Championships and three national championships. The program regularly puts players into the NFL. 

More success under Saban has equaled more money. Certainly, football is a driving force there. That's important, because Casagrande's report also shows that the Tide had more than $120 million in expenses for 2013-14. That's a little less than $4 million more than the expenses shown for the previous fiscal year. According to USA Today's 2012-13 database, Alabama is one of the biggest spenders in college athletics. 

It's the classic case of spend money, make money. However, consider what Alabama is doing because it operates comfortably in the black. That's where Saban's success has impacted Alabama as a university. 

Go back two years to 2013 when Saban was profiled on the CBS show 60 Minutes. Alabama Chancellor Dr. Robert Witt told the program, "Nick Saban is best financial investment this university has ever made. We have made an investment that's been returned many fold" (h/t Chip Patterson of 

In what ways, though? Chris Smith of expanded on that in 2013: 

That on-field success generates financial prosperity, as detailed below, and also makes Alabama a top choice for students and athletes alike. In 2007, Alabama had an acceptance rate of 77%. Today, rivals like Auburn and LSU are still at that near-80% rate; Alabama now accepts just 53% of applicants.

For the 2012-13 football season, the most recent for which financial data is available, Alabama reported football revenue of $89 million, second only to Texas. The $50 million or so in football profit not only supported non-revenue sports like golf and gymnastics, but it also helped Alabama’s athletic department end the year $34 million in the black. While many athletic departments have to take loans from their parent universities just to break even, Alabama’s athletic department sends money the other way. Last year it contributed around $6.5 million to the university to provide for faculty support and non-athletic scholarships.

Now look at the most recent numbers published by Just over $9 million of Alabama's 2013-14 surplus was transferred back to the university. As sports business guru Kristi Dosh wrote in 2011 on her site, The Business of College Sports, self-sustaining (and/or lightly subsidized) athletic departments that give back to the university is a small group. 

In short, Alabama is part of it. 

Alabama is the poster child for why major college football gets its unofficial "don't call it a minor league" title relative to the NFL. In fact, Alabama's Sugar Bowl appearance against Ohio State in the first College Football Playoff had viewership that rivaled the NFL's wild-card weekend. Considering that the NFL is far and away America's most popular sport, that's an eye-opening debut. 

And Alabama is part of the reason why college football players could be receiving a payout for name/image/likeness rights due to a judge's ruling in the Ed O'Bannon trial. There's a lot of fuzzy math in college athletics to give off the appearance of financial belt-tightening—see Alabama-Birmingham, which of all places killed off its football program last year—but the numbers from Tuscaloosa are as clear as day. 

Alabama is filthy rich, and Saban plays a huge role in that. In the university's eyes, his enormous salary is worth it.


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. 

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Bill Parcells Was Considered as Joe Paterno's Replacement at Penn State

As Penn State's football program emerged from the Joe Paterno era, the school apparently wanted to make a big splash by hiring Bill Parcells as its next head coach.

According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, citing Parcells' book Parcells: A Football Life, the Nittany Lions contacted the Hall of Fame coach about the opening:

Penn State fired Paterno in November 2011, along with school President Graham Spanier, as the result of a school-wide housecleaning to get rid of any remnants of the Jerry Sandusky era.

Tom Bradley, who had served as defensive coordinator under Paterno since 2000, took over as interim head coach before the Nittany Lions hired Bill O'Brien in January 2012.  

Parcells would have made an interesting hire for Penn State. He's one of the best football coaches in the history of the sport, but the school contacted him when he was 70 years old. He hasn't been in the college ranks since leaving Air Force after 1978.

ESPN's Phil Murphy was surprised at the news:

Given Parcells' ability to motivate and coach, it's possible he would have made a good modern college coach if he had taken the Penn State job. Whether he would have been able to keep up with the likes of Urban Meyer and Nick Saban is up for debate, however.

Ultimately, Parcells didn't take the job and got inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013. O'Brien parlayed his success in two seasons at Penn State into an NFL head coaching gig with the Houston Texans, and the Nittany Lions then hired Vanderbilt's James Franklin, who went 7-6 in his first season with the program in 2014.

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Death of Mother, Grandmother Can't Stop Joe Broadnax's College Football Dream

DALLAS — The smile on Joe Broadnax's face beamed the morning of Feb. 4 at Bryan Adams High School. He had friends and family surrounding him. Teammates surrounding him. Classmates, underclassmen, coaches, teachers, even strangers. 

They were all supporting the big man during his time to shine. It was national signing day, and he was officially a TCU signee.

But this day was a lot bigger than football. 

For Broadnax, signing his national letter of intent meant a son would fulfill a promise made to the mother he lost two years ago.

"I promised her I would go to college," Broadnax said. "Now I just have to finish high school, maintain all A's and B's and continue to keep striving for excellence.

"It's what my mother would have wanted."


Doing It for Them

Before Broadnax could make it to college, life dealt him a series of melancholic haymakers. On Dec. 2, 2012, his grandmother, Claudia Mae Lydia, died from various medical conditions. The next month, he had to bury his mother, Vonceia D'Ann Lydia-Broadnax, who had heart issues.

Almost exactly a year later came the death of one of his favorite uncles, Emmett Lydia III.

Three deaths. Thirteen months. Seventeen years old.

While most his age were focusing on who to take to the prom or how to beat the rival in the next big sporting event, Broadnax simply worried about how to get by, how to find the push to want to get to the next day.

It wasn't easy. It wasn't supposed to be. Fortunately, the teen was strong-willed, backed by a dedicated support staff and motivated to finish his goal of getting an education.

Having football pay for it is an added bonus.

"I knew I had to graduate. I couldn't let any of this beat me down," Broadnax said. "I know my mom wouldn't just give up on life and let it beat her down.

"When my grandmother passed, I saw it in her. She never gave up. She would still go to school Monday through Friday, and she'd work at 8 a.m. and get off at 12 at night. She never gave up."

Vonceia D'Ann Lydia-Broadnax was a licensed vocational nurse pursuing a bachelor's degree in nursing before her untimely death in early 2013. She would always have conversations with her son about the importance of obtaining a good degree. Even when Broadnax verbally committed to TCU on Feb. 27 last year, he was more focused on earning a bachelor's degree than potential all-conference accolades as a Horned Frogs defensive tackle.

"She'd always tell me that time is valuable," he said. "You've got to get on your horse and not waste time. It's always running out."


An Escape

Football was the perfect diversion from the trials of the teen's personal life. He was the leader of Bryan Adams' defense and a player who was praised for his character off the field, his determination on the field and his ability to lead by example.

"To be honest, it really wasn't tough to sell him [to TCU]," said Brandon Roberts, Bryan Adams' recruiting coordinator. "Joe did it all himself; I just put the tape together. He has all the intangibles and tools, and he worked hard.

"Talking to [running backs coach Curtis] Luper and [head coach Gary] Patterson, I know they're going to take good care of him. The most important thing, I just want him to get his degree. Everybody wants to go to the NFL, but I know getting his degree will mean a lot more to him and his family."

Derick Roberson, a former head coach at Bryan Adams recently named the new head coach at Dallas power Skyline High School, still remembers Broadnax as a middle-school standout. He played middle linebacker and running back then. Now, at 6'0" and 303 pounds, he's a defensive tackle who bench-presses 340 pounds and squats 530. Broadnax should remind TCU fans of a Chucky Hunter starter set—and Hunter ended up an All-Big 12 defensive lineman for Patterson.

Ron Grace, in his second year as head coach for Bryan Adams, said Broadnax's work ethic and family upbringing will take him far. Before his mother, grandmother and uncle died, they gave him a solid foundation.

"Joe doesn't say too much, but he's one of the first ones in the weight room and one of the first ones on the practice field," Grace said. "He goes 100 miles an hour and gives 100 percent effort all the time. He comes from a great family. He's been raised to do things the right way."


Strong Support System

Fear? Of course there's fear when life is tough and you're asked to go without three of the most influential people in your life before you're legally a man.

Broadnax knows his story is sad, but the last thing he wants is for people to cry for him. He still has a group of key supporters, led by his father Joseph Broadnax Sr. The TCU signee lives with his older brother, but he said his father has been a rock during difficult times.

"He's big time," Broadnax said of his dad. "He works a lot, but I get whatever I need from him. He's really been there since my mother's passing."

And then there's his family at Bryan Adams. Roberson, Roberts and Grace are all father figures. Roberts kept Broadnax motivated with scholarship news and discussion from schools of interest. Athletic coordinator Stacey Segal was one of his biggest cheerleaders while also keeping him grounded.

"I always tell the athletic department and staff to leave a legacy, and Joe has done that," Segal said. "You want your athletes to make their mark on a school and aspire to be great. He is a leader, and he has amazing character. 'Speak softly; carry a big stick' is one of my favorite quotes, and that's how I can describe Joe."

Roberson added, "It's his desire to be the best at everything that I like. I remember when everything happened, he came to me, put his arm around me and said, 'Coach, I want to go to college.' I always thought he had the tenacity and the desire to succeed. He always showed it on the field, so I knew he would be successful regardless."


"I'll Be OK"

Segal has her own theory about what the future holds for the young football star.

"In 10 years, Joseph Broadnax Jr. will have graduated with a bachelor's degree from TCU, made all-conference and been drafted already and playing for the New Orleans Saints," said Segal, a diehard Saints fan.

"But with all that, he will come back. You need young men like him to come back and talk to the kids about getting to the next level and what it took. I have no doubt in my mind that I will be able to call Joe, ask for that favor and know he will say 'yes, ma'am.'"

If you ask Broadnax, the future is bright.

"My mother was a strong woman. I'm a strong boy. I'm my mother's boy, so I'll be OK," Broadnax said. "I'm surrounded by a group of people who have my back, and I have their backs."

National signing day on Feb. 4 was a proud day for Broadnax, and it's a day he knows put a smile on the faces of his mother, grandmother and uncle. But he also knows his journey is far from over.

There are still objectives to be accomplished—academic and athletic objectives—all as a tribute to those who first believed in him.

"My mom would have loved all of this," he said. "My grandmother is just like my mom. They both would have been proud of me. I know I can't let them down."

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. Player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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Jim Harbaugh Spends Time with Jameis Winston and Bryce Petty Before NFL Combine

Wanting to be as prepared as possible for the 2015 NFL combine, Jameis Winston and Bryce Petty traveled north to meet with Michigan coach and quarterback guru Jim Harbaugh.

According to a Michigan spokesman, via Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, Winston and Petty made the trip to Ann Arbor to work out with Harbaugh and "get acclimated to the time and weather, and throw in an indoor facility before going to Lucas Oil (Stadium)."

Harbaugh knows a thing or two about what NFL teams will be looking for at the combine. After all, he was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-14, so he's been through the process a few times.

[Michigan Football]

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2016 Dream Recruiting Class

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish boast one of the best 2015 classes in the nation, recruiting a number of talented athletes to the program. The Fighting Irish's focus, though, is quickly moving to the 2016 recruiting cycle. 

Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson was joined by 247Sports Recruiting Analyst Tom Loy as they went through Notre Dame's dream recruiting class for 2016. 

In a perfect world, which recruits should be on the Irish wish list? Check out the video and let us know! 

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Texas A&M Football: Tracking 2015 NFL Combine Results for Aggies

The Texas A&M Aggies have five of their former players participating in the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. All five of them need to perform well to improve their positions in the draft.

The combine is one long job interview for college football players who aspire to move on to the NFL. The players are tested in various athletic endeavors, interviewed and paraded out on a stage in their underwear so NFL scouts and coaches can get a look at them.

The players run the 40-yard dash, bench press 225 pounds as many times as they can and have their vertical and broad jumps measured. They also participate in a number of position-specific drills.

Some NFL teams put the players through a battery of psychological exams before interviewing them. The players also take an intelligence test in an attempt to quantify whether they are smart enough to play in the NFL.

The five Aggies who are participating in the combine all have a very good chance at being drafted. This is a look at what each player needs to do well at in order to move up the draft boards.

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Why Mark Richt and Georgia Are Killing It This Offseason

From rumors of head coach Mark Richt's retirement, to the nation's top overall player, to an increased dedication from the administration to the football program, it's been an eventful offseason for the Georgia Bulldogs.

For the most part, those events have been positive.

The momentum continued on Monday, when the school announced that former Bulldog running back Thomas Brown will take over as Richt's new running backs coach, after a successful stint in the same role with Wisconsin. Bryan McClendon will shift his role from running backs coach to wide receivers coach—a position he played at Georgia—and become the team's passing game coordinator.

Richt commented on the moves in a release:

It brings back a great Bulldog running back in Thomas who has NFL playing experience and has had success as a college coach at multiple schools. He also inherits a position that has been built to an elite level by Bryan. And it gives Bryan the opportunity to return to coaching the position he played and the one where he cut his teeth serving as a graduate assistant under wide receiver coach John Eason here at UGA.

Brown, a Tucker, Georgia native, has ties to the region, helped reel in three 4-star commits in Wisconsin's recent class and will allow Richt to shift he and McClendon to positional responsibilities they're both familiar with from their playing days. 

Brown was successful last season helping lead Melvin Gordon to the Heisman Trophy ceremony, and he has a Ferrari to work with in Athens, as Radi Nabulsi of notes.

It's just the latest in a series of events that have generated momentum within the Georgia football program:


Recruiting Success

For the most part, Georgia—which finished sixth in the 247Sports team recruiting rankings—didn't make a whole lot of noise on national signing day.

Just the way Richt likes it.

Georgia entered the day with a top-flight class that included the nation's No. 1 overall player in defensive tackle Trent Thompson, seven early enrollees including three defensive linemen and Terry Godwin, the nation's top-ranked athlete. 

Not only did Georgia hang on to Godwin after a late push by Auburn, but it also found a new present under the tree long after college football's offseason holiday, when 4-star linebacker Roquan Smith signed a financial aid agreement with Georgia more than a week after committing to UCLA on national signing day.

Richt's 2015 haul wasn't the talk of national signing day, due in large part to the fact that, save for the uncertainty surrounding Godwin and Smith, the hay was already in the barn.

The new coaching moves are going to further solidify Georgia's recruiting prowess.

The move of McClendon to a coaching position he's more comfortable with and the presence of Brown on the staff as the running backs coach has already made a splash among prospects in the class of 2016.

Sure, Georgia suffers from an inexplicable loss that keeps it out of the national picture seemingly every season, but the talent that flocks to Athens every year keeps it competitive year in and year out in the SEC East.

That's not going to change anytime soon.


Increase in Staff Salaries

The hire of Brian Schottenheimer as Georgia's offensive coordinator after Mike Bobo took the Colorado State head coach job remains puzzling, considering his offenses finished better than 20th in the NFL just once since 2009.

What isn't puzzling, though, is the increased dedication Georgia has shown to paying its assistants fair market value.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt got a $450,000 per year bump to $1.3 million, according to Seth Emerson of Richt got an $800,000 per year raise that pays him $4 million annually (which is middle of the pack in the SEC) and Schottenheimer stepped in to a $950,000 annual salary, according to Emerson. That's $372,000 more per year than Bobo, who was wildly successful, was making as Georgia's offensive coordinator last year, according to the USA Today assistant coaching salary database.

It's crazy that all it took was a "silly little retirement rumor," which Richt was asked about in the press conference following the Belk Bowl win over Louisville, to get Georgia's staff to a competitive financial level with the rest of the SEC.

That has created a sense of stability within the program, which is something that trickles down to current players and high school prospects who now know that massive staff changes aren't as likely now as they were just two months ago.



A hot-button issue for Richt over the last decade has been the absence of an indoor practice facility, which are common around the SEC.

That could be changing soon.

According to Emerson, the plans for the new facility are coming along quickly, and a site—near the existing football complex—could be approved as early as Tuesday. 

It's amazing how quickly the ball can get rolling when a head coach uses his leverage to get what he wants and a rival—in this case Florida—fast tracks an indoor practice facility of its own.

Of course, a slight nudge from Pruitt late in the season didn't hurt the push.

I've been on the other side when you recruit against Georgia, and when you don't practice you don't get better, so that hurts player development. The reason I came up here (to meet the media) is because we're fixing to take care of that. And this is gonna be the last football team at Georgia that's gonna have days where they don't get better because of not having an indoor facility. Because I know our folks upstairs are gonna get it done.

It's clear that Richt and his staff have taken the initiative to bring Georgia back up to a competitive level after slowly falling behind over the last few years, and that starts with the new indoor facility and a bigger budget for assistant coaches.


Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Georgia Football: Position-by-Position Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

When national signing day came to end on February 5, the Georgia Bulldogs finished with 29 signed players. But a few days later, that number went up to 30 when Roquan Smith signed with the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs finished with the sixth-best class in the nation, fourth-best in the conference and second-best in the division, according to 247 Sports.

But how good is the class? Did the Bulldogs hit on every target this year, or did they let some players slip from them? Here are position-by-position grades for the 2015 recruiting class.

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CFB Future 100: Top 6 Running Backs in Class of 2016

After thorough study using specific scoring criteria, Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analysts Damon SaylesSanjay Kirpalani and Tyler Donohue have graded the top 100 players in the 247Sports composite rankings and provided in-depth analysis on each young athlete. Bleacher Report will run a position-by-position breakdown series of the best college football recruits in the class of 2016. Here we present the Top Running Backs.

Other Positions 


The next crop of dominant high school running backs is ready to make its mark as the 2016 recruiting class steps into the spotlight. The group features a variety of athletes—from shifty speedsters to punishing power backs—but each can be summed up as "playmaker."

Our CFB Future 100 series puts the focus on football stars expected to eventually make a major impact at the college level. Our latest analysis examines the eight ball-carriers currently listed among America's top 100 overall 2016 prospects in 247Sports' composite rankings, with grades based on vision, power, speed, hands, agility and ball security.


All players scouted by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue.

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Texas Football: Position-by-Position Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong and his staff did more than put together a national-level recruiting class. They landed one that addressed every need, and this team will be much better for it in 2015.

The Longhorns lost 10 starters from their 2014 squad. Without an experienced quarterback, they will struggle to improve much on Strong's 6-7 record in his debut season.

For Texas to have any chance of achieving that, the staff had to turn in one of the nation's better recruiting classes this spring. They responded by pulling in a top-10 class, bringing in at least one 4-star recruit from every position group except the defensive line.

Even there, they landed a JUCO prospect who will slide directly into the starting lineup.

Overall, every single positional need was addressed with this class.

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UCLA Football: Position-by-Position Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

The 2015 recruiting class will give the UCLA football team a considerable injection of both talent and depth. 

Per, UCLA signed the No. 9 overall class in the country. Perhaps more impressive, UCLA had a 4.00 star-per-commitment average—ranking second behind only Alabama. 

This class helps to add depth at specific positions. It also enhances the skill in certain spots—specifically on the offensive side of the ball. 

Of course, Jim Mora and his staff did miss on some prospects. UCLA was also victimized by multiple decommitments on signing day. 

This piece will give each position or unit a grade based upon the talent signed, as well as the players UCLA may have missed out on. The readiness of the signees to play right away also factor into the letter grade. 

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