NCAA Football News
College football is a year-round process. Although games begin and end in the fall, the other three seasons are just as important for preparation.
BYU has put spring in the rear-view mirror and is weeks closer to the opener at UConn. If March and April practices are any indicator, it could be a great season for the Cougars.
It will be months before we see the Cougs kick off the 2014 season, but here are four things we learned during spring.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Eighteen days after Notre Dame football’s final practice session, we’ve had plenty of time to let the spring season sink in.
We’re almost to May, and before we know it, the Irish will be deep in summer workouts, with fall camp around the corner.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s check in on the winners and losers from spring ball. Who stepped up and impressed, and who didn’t? Who stagnated and missed opportunities?
For the winners, we’ll examine players and groups who both improved the most throughout the spring and are best positioned heading into the summer.
As for the losers, it’s tough to name players who regressed based on the small sample of live media viewing. Instead, we’ll consider those who missed out on opportunities and find themselves in crowded situations.
Let’s take a look.
National signing day remains more than nine months away, but that date looms large in each college football recruiting department. Every phase of the year represents an opportunity to assemble a class that can take a program to the next level, so coaches stay busy scouting and targeting prospects.
We're in the midst of a pivotal stretch, as spring recruit evaluations are largely completed and scholarships have been sent to most junior high school athletes deemed worth of an offer. Spring camps give teams an opportunity to get players on campus, providing a personal setting to seal the deal on a commitment.
Several 2015 class standouts are still searching for the right fit, but many prefer to pledge soon in order to focus on their final high school seasons. We've seen a flurry of commitments this spring, which have altered the prospect landscape.
Here's a look at teams that have ramped up their recruiting efforts to build strong foundations for signing day.
Spring practices are in the books—mostly. Miami (Ohio), Oregon and Oregon State will wrap things up in the first weekend of May, but basically, we're entering the long summer months before preseason camp.
That means it's time to update Bleacher Report's way-too-early predictions for the inaugural College Football Playoff. (You may recall a post-signing day prediction of a similar nature.)
While it's true that spring practices (and games) don't provide a complete measuring stick for teams—depth charts are nowhere near complete, and there are injuries to account for—they do etch a picture with some detail. What position battles were solved? Which ones still have room for improvement? What are the causes for hope and concern? Did any early enrollees make an impact? These are the types of questions that hopefully get answered.
The obvious fault with way-too-early predictions is that they're made long before anything substantial can materialize. For all anyone knows, teams that went .500 last year could make up the playoff field. But that's part of the fun.
With that in mind, which four teams made our updated cut for College Football Playoff?
A handful of Trojans had the opportunity to rise up the depth charts during spring camp due to limited depth, and many of them rose to the occasion. With a whole month of virtually competition-free practices for some positions, these athletes were able to show the coaches that they're ready for greater responsibility.
Position battles will resume in the fall, but thanks to promising performances this spring (particularly on the offensive line and in the secondary), the coaches will have some options in terms of who to start. And that's a good thing, because for the first time in a few years, the Trojans should have quality depth across all positions.
Listed from offense to defense, here's a look at the 10 theoretical winners of spring duels that really made their move during this month.
When DaVaris Daniels rejoins the Notre Dame football program this summer, he might do a double take. Those clueless freshmen that were learning on the fly last year? They've become the heart of the wide receiving corps.
Daniels' academic sabbatical for the spring semester forced the young wide receiving corps to grow up quickly.
Sophomores Will Fuller and Corey Robinson picked up the slack this spring, emerging as key weapons in the Irish offense. Junior Chris Brown, who spent much of 2013 stuck in neutral, responded with a strong spring as well, understanding that he's now a veteran after two full seasons in the program.
With Daniels out for spring practice, the Irish receivers had caught a total of one pass from returning quarterback Everett Golson.
As such, spring was spent developing chemistry with Notre Dame's returning quarterback and laying the foundation for an offense that'll hopefully be the most explosive Irish attack of the Brian Kelly era.
To achieve that, Notre Dame will need to get production out of its rising sophomore class. While the 15 combined catches between Fuller and Robinson don't necessarily point to a breakout season, there's reason to be optimistic that the two wideouts will quickly become essential elements in the Irish passing attack.
Fuller and Robinson will catch more passes because there'll be more footballs to go around. TJ Jones served as the engine's offense last season, with his 70 catches and 1108 yards worthy of his MVP award. He's gone, as is tight end Troy Niklas.
Though Daniels will likely improve on his 49 catches, he's never been used as a high-percentage passing target, leaving some of the possession throws to the young duo.
Figuring out who is likelier to take over those touches will be interesting to track.
Fuller was used almost exclusively as a deep threat last season, and his 26.7 yards per catch give you an idea of his ability to get behind the defense. Adding some intermediate routes or quick patterns to his arsenal would get the football in the Philadelphia native's hands more frequently, allowing him to use his speed to break plays open.
If getting Fuller involved in the quick passing game makes sense, there might not be a better possession receiver on the Irish roster than Robinson.
IrishIllustrated.com's Douglas Farmer suggests that coaches raved about his catch radius last summer, and between highlight-reel catches and big plays against Michigan State and Air Force, Robinson can serve as both a matchup problem for opponents and a safety valve for Golson.
James Onwualu's departure from the receiving corps likely says something about Torii Hunter Jr.'s ability to contribute.
While his freshman season was lost as he recovered from a broken leg suffered at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Hunter impressed the staff during bowl preparation and earned some attention this spring as he stepped back into competition.
Finding snaps for Hunter might be tough, especially if he's an outside receiver, but the smooth athlete with good speed could allow the Irish offense to work four receivers downfield. A vertical passing attack was a staple in Kelly's Cincinnati offenses and emerged last season with Tommy Rees as well.
The future is bright for the Irish passing game, with all three young receivers showing the type of promise that makes Kelly and offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock very happy.
But with a young defense still finding its way, the offense needs to drive this team.
That hasn't happened yet under Kelly, who came to Notre Dame with the label of an offensive guru. If his young receiving corps can grow up quickly, an explosive Irish offense could be the thing that powers Notre Dame to a successful 2014.
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No one should be surprised.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, which means he's under a constant vigil. It's the offseason—not "spring practice" offseason, but "real" offseason—which means fans and media have time to digest and make something of everything. They all have access to social media, which enables Twitterazzi to make countless jokes, which are funny, and piping hot sports takes, which are ridiculous, at the expense of others.
As Tomahawknation.com reported Wednesday morning, Winston was cited for shoplifting crab legs from a local Publix grocery store. According to a Leon County Sheriff's spokesperson, Winston left with $32 worth of food without paying. Winston eventually acknowledged to authorities that he "forgot" to pay after "milling" around the store, but made no effort to go back later. (He has since issued an apology for his actions.)
Every detail of this story is hilarious. It is also indisputable that this takes place in a vacuum. This cannot be lassoed in with Winston's sexual battery case, which is still the center of an investigation.
Is stealing wrong? Of course, but there is nothing here that connects X to Y.
It's not even entirely about paying athletes so they can buy food, though the timing is interesting given the NCAA's recent food deregulation rule. Rather, the pertinent questions are: How does one specifically decide on shoplifting crab legs? Furthermore, how would they attempt to hide them?
It's also possible this was nothing more than an honest mistake where bypassing proper crustacean-purchasing procedure was the only violation committed.
This is all under consideration because this is college football's peak offseason and these things are somehow important to the masses. Winston is famous, so everything he does gets attention from the media and clicks on the readers' end.
If anyone understands how that exchange operates, it's former Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. 2013 was his Summer of George. Manziel glad-handed and hung out with celebrities, got kicked out of a frat party, possibly got dismissed from the Manning Passing Academy for missing meetings and may have signed hundreds of pieces of memorabilia for a five-figure fee.
Some of those moments were more important than others because they affected Manziel's eligibility. Similarly, Winston has been punished by Florida State. The university announced Wednesday afternoon that the redshirt sophomore had been suspended from the baseball team until he completes 20 hours of community service.
"As a result of his citation last night, we are suspending Jameis Winston from the baseball team," said FSU Baseball Coach Mike Martin in a statement via the Tallahassee Democrat. "I am confident he will complete his community service obligation and the situation will be resolved soon."
The suspension will be temporary, and rightly so, but the constant following of his every move won't be. Winston will face scrutiny, just as Manziel did a year ago. His actions will be magnified.
Was Winston involved in a bench-clearing "brawl" alongside his baseball teammates in a game against Florida last month? Not really, unless some pushing and shoving constitutes a brawl.
Like Manziel, Winston's crab leg incident will conjure up spicy debate about his attitude, or whether it will be a distraction for the team this year or if he's a top-tier draft pick.
Take, for example, the thoughts about Winston now by various NFL front office folk (via Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman):
This from an NFL scout: "When I heard about this, I was stunned. He was the top overall pick next year. Was. Not anymore. This latest thing shows a continuation of bad judgment. I don't trust him, and I can tell you very few teams in the NFL will trust him."
This from a front-office executive: "He's on his way to falling out of the first round."
This from another scout: "We're talent whores. But we're not total whores. It's almost impossible, at this point, to trust Winston."
That's comes with the territory of being the top player in college football. But keep in mind that Manziel was once arrested on a disorderly conduct charge—Winston has only been cited at this time—and could still be a top-10 draft pick.
Of course, not helping matters was Winston's "Manziel disease" comment last August before he was named the Seminoles' starting quarterback. For context, a reporter used the phrase, which Winston merely repeated. Still, he provided the money quote:
"If I ever get Manziel disease, I want all of you to smack me in the head with your microphones." (H/t Perry Kostidakis of FSUNews.com)
The court of public opinion has been, and will be, more than happy to oblige.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football for Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand.
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The SEC decided to stay at eight conference games moving forward and the league that dominated the BCS era is now taking a victory into the College Football Playoff era. While plenty debate the eight-game versus nine-game schedule, CFP director Bill Hancock has let the nation know there will be no premium placed on more conference games.
In other words, "Dear SEC, you keep doing what you're doing and we'll judge you based on all 12, or 13, games."
Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News reported Hancock's point on the totality of the schedule being judged. Both ESPN's Joe Schad and USA Today's Greg Schroeder added to the discussion with more from Hancock.
For the SEC, that simply means continuing to be graded based upon its on-the-field results. Teams, like Georgia and South Carolina in 2013, that want to schedule two Big Five opponents are welcome to do so and attempt to navigate the waters. Others, like 2013 Auburn and Alabama, are free to play the one required Big Five team and then dare the committee to leave them out of the mix.
Very much in the same way that Baylor is staring down the selection committee through its nonconference scheduling plans, outside of the nine-game Big 12 schedule.
A one-loss SEC champion getting dinged in the playoff because a Big Ten team plays nine games? Mike Slive's constituents will believe it when they see it. After all, the committee is eschewing the computers and the BCS formula in favor of deciding on teams through discussion. Which, Allen Kenney of Blatant Homerism jokes, should be quite the process.
Entering 2014, four SEC schools are not compliant with the new eight-plus-one format of the SEC: Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. That will change going forward. Meanwhile, there are seven other teams not playing a Big Five squad, something Amy Daughters of FBSchedules.com points out.
The SEC is not stopping its teams from scheduling tougher. Rather, the league is betting on its own strength to bridge the gap between nine Big Five contests and a possible 10 from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12. A sound gamble for a conference that has been given the benefit of the doubt for much of recent history.
After all, when the totality of the schedule is reviewed, is a win over Kansas or Purdue in conference truly worth giving the edge to a Big 12 or Big Ten team? Is an ACC team with Notre Dame on the schedule to be lauded for beating Virginia as one of its eight-plus-Notre Dame conference games? Would a 2013 win over Cal or Colorado be worth boosting the Pac-12?
The SEC is betting not, and rightfully so. The difference between a bowl-eligible Colorado State or Florida Atlantic, where strength of schedule is concerned, will be negligible compared with conference teams at the bottom.
True rewards on the conference schedule will be manifested through quality wins, something the SEC has had no problem with recently. The strength will come from the top and in a conference that routinely places teams in the Top 15, there will be plenty of strength.
Until the College Football Playoff committee proves it will give preference to nine-game conference schedules, the SEC is in a solid position. Changes may come down the line where scheduling is concerned, but for now, even as fans, media and other conferences grow frustrated, the Southeastern Conference has won its battle.
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Florida State dual-sport star and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston has been suspended from the Seminoles baseball team by head coach Mike Martin after he was issued a citation on Tuesday for shoplifting crab legs and crawfish from a local supermarket, according to Bud Elliott of TomahawkNation.com, via ESPN.com.
WCTV's Alex Yoder provides the details:
The Tallahassee Democrat's Jim Henry passed along additional comments from Martin:
Henry's colleague Natalie Pierre tweeted head football coach Jimbo Fisher's response to Winston's citation and subsequent suspension:
Wednesday morning, TomahawkNation.com (via ESPNU) reported that Winston took the seafood from a Publix grocery store in Florida:
USA Today college football writer Paul Myerberg reports the extent of Winston's crime:
The Leon County Sheriff's office held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to address the situation.
Prior to being suspended, Winston—who serves as FSU's closer—made 16 appearances, going 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA and five saves.
The Internet had a field day with photoshops, memes and jokes at Winston's expense Wednesday.
This isn't the first time Winston has encountered off-field drama at Florida State. Last December, the Florida state attorney decided not to charge Winston with sexual assault in the wake of accusations made by a woman who claimed an incident had occurred at an off-campus apartment on Dec. 7, 2012.
ESPN.com also reports that Winston was involved in two other off-the-field incidents prior to last winter's sexual assault investigation. However, both were considered to be minor and the Seminoles signal-caller wasn't arrested or charged in either.
With Florida State's baseball team gearing up for the final two weeks of the regular season before it enters the ACC tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina, on May 20, Winston's suspension clearly comes at a bad time.
And with the return of football season just a few months away, the 20-year-old appears to have his hands full at the moment.
Coming off a national championship and a Heisman Trophy-winning season in 2013, expectations are sure to be sky high for Winston on the football field next fall. Talent-wise, there's no doubt he has the potential to be a top pick in the 2015 NFL draft should he choose to declare.
But he'll have to first live up to expectations off the field if he's going to restore his reputation and build on his legacy in Tallahassee.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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Brady White, one of the country's premier quarterback prospects, is just days away from announcing where he intends to play college football. The California playmaker will reveal his decision Friday at 6:30 p.m. EDT, per 247Sports reporter Barton Simmons.
The announcement serves as another key development in the 2015 recruiting cycle, as several of White's elite quarterback contemporaries have already committed.
Fellow Golden State standouts Josh Rosen (UCLA), Ricky Town (USC), Blake Barnett (Notre Dame) and Jake Browning (Washington) are off the market. Fellow 4-star talents Drew Lock (Missouri), Ty Storey (Arkansas), Jarrett Stidham (Texas Tech) and Tyler Queen (Auburn) have also made up their minds.
The group of uncommitted quarterbacks in this deep class is quickly dwindling, making Friday's announcement one worth watching.
White, rated No. 4 nationally among pro-style passers in 247Sports' composite rankings, enjoyed a dominant junior campaign. The Hart High School (Newhall, Calif.) star completed 333 pass attempts for 4,535 yards and 41 touchdowns.
His efforts included another 320 yards and nine scores on the ground. White was selected to compete in the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The 6'2", 190-pound passer has been focused on Pac-12 rivals Cal and Arizona State recently, visiting both programs in April. Oregon extended an offer earlier this week, joining the race in its final stages.
White also views Penn State as a legitimate option, per 247Sports reporter Steve Wiltfong (subscription required). His other offers include Louisville, Maryland, Tennessee, Kentucky and Washington State.
With White's highly anticipated announcement looming, we examine each option in an attempt to uncover his ideal fit.
The Golden Bears missed out on Rosen, the top-rated 2015 quarterback, in March when he pledged to UCLA. Still, it's fairly remarkable that Cal was viewed as a finalist for one of America's most coveted prospects after a 1-11 season.
Second-year head coach Sonny Dykes didn't manage to beat a single FBS opponent in 2013, settling for a lone victory over Portland State. The team dealt with tremendous growing pains but has to be pleased overall with the development of quarterback Jared Goff.
The true freshman orchestrated an offensive attack that averaged 331 passing yards per contest, ranked 10th nationally. He figures to be the face of this program moving forward for at least the next two seasons.
Neither player warranted the attention that White has received during their respective recruiting processes, but Cal isn't exactly hurting for immediate help at the position. Goff could remain the starter under center until 2017.
White visited Cal on April 4. Wide receiver Trent Irwin, his top high school target, is also strongly considering the Golden Bears.
White has built a tremendous relationship with the Sun Devils coaching staff in recent weeks. He spent two days in Tempe during the first weekend of April and returned for another trip to campus last weekend.
White was able to develop a personal understanding of how he fits in the team's plans during his initial visit, per 247Sports' JC Shurbutt.
I got to meet with (Sun Devils offensive coordinator) Mike Norvell and (head coach) Todd Graham to see how I fit in their offense. Norvell and Graham both told me I was their No. 1 guy, they will consistently stay in touch and recruit me as if I were the top guy on their board. I appreciated hearing that from them.
The Sun Devils surprised many in 2013, finishing 8-1 in Pac-12 play. Arizona State has won 13 of 17 games dating back to Nov. 17, 2012, giving Graham plenty of credibility as he pitches his program to prospects.
Quarterback Taylor Kelly has 27 career starts with the Sun Devils and is entering his final collegiate season. Arizona State signed two dual-threat California quarterbacks in February—Manny Wilkins and Coltin Gerhart—before picking up a pledge from 2015 prospect Bryce Perkins.
Perkins is a prime candidate to switch positions, particularly if White comes on board, but the Sun Devils feature a quality stable of young passers either way.
Obviously, the Nittany Lions don't present the kind of regional proximity provided by White's Pac-12 options. His family and friends will have a much harder time seeing him play in person if he decides to call Happy Valley home.
Starting quarterback Christian Hackenberg was arguably the most impressive true freshman to emerge during the 2013 season. His success already has some wondering if he could be a top pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
James Franklin won't have to concern himself with alterations atop the quarterback depth chart as long as he has Hackenberg. Still, there's a strong possibility that someone will need to step into the role two years from now.
Tyler Ferguson transferred to Louisville after his first season at Penn State, unwilling to spend his days watching Hackenberg from the sidelines. The Nittany Lions signed 4-star Florida quarterback Michael O'Connor, who spent spring camp with the squad as an early enrollee.
Trace McSorley, a 3-star Virginia prospect, arrives on campus this summer. Penn State will likely look to keep both players off the field this season in order to preserve redshirt possibilities.
That means White could step into a position that features two redshirt freshmen in 2015.
The Ducks are latecomers to the party but deserve consideration nonetheless. Oregon's offensive attack perennially ranks among the most potent in college football.
Even after the departure of play-calling wiz Chip Kelly, the team finished fourth nationally in points per game last season (45.5). Quarterback Marcus Mariota led the way and decided to delay his NFL career by staying in Eugene as a junior.
Barring any injuries or unforeseen setbacks, it's hard to envision him making the same decision next winter. Redshirt sophomores Jeff Lockie and Jake Rodrigues serve as Mariota's primary backups but both players will have only two years maximum to start if he declares for the 2015 draft.
Morgan Mahalak, a 2014 4-star signee from California, could also be in line to compete for a starting job when Mariota departs. White would enter the equation competing against quarterbacks with significantly more experience in the complex scheme.
Oregon is a tempting destination for any quarterback, but White may encounter a crowded backfield if he commits to the Ducks.
White's focus will center on Cal and Arizona State. If his ambitions are to compete for a starting spot during his first collegiate training camp, then the choice is clear.
The Sun Devils are going to turn the page at quarterback in 2015. Given the team's admiration for White, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Graham include him in the mix as a true freshman.
Arizona State is on the rise, with a powerful offensive attack leading the way. White can seize a rare opportunity to play immediately, while staying within a six-hour car drive of his hometown.
Recruit information, ratings and statistics courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.
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Key role players and potential breakout stars have their final opportunity to make an impact on Oregon's spring practice season in the intrasquad scrimmage.
The Ducks host the final of their 15 offseason workouts Saturday at Autzen Stadium, employing a format GoDucks.com editor Rob Moseley describes as being "as close to real football as possible for the first half, with kickoffs, punts and clock stoppages."
That live-game feel will be a showcase for some of the less-heralded on the roster to shine.
Oregon is split into two teams: one drafted by quarterback Marcus Mariota and center Hroniss Grasu; the other, by linebacker Tony Washington and cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. The complete breakdown is available on GoDucks.com.
Florida State quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was cited for stealing crab legs from a Publix grocery store on Tuesday, according to SB Nation.
Naturally, this has led to plenty of great Winston-crab photoshopped images around the Internet.
Here are some of the best ones:
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Spring practice is in the past for most programs now, meaning no more official practice time until camp opens in August.
Now seems as good a time as any to evaluate where SEC teams stand at the most important position in the sport—quarterback.
To do so, we will examine 2013 performance and combine that with reports from around spring camps. This list will examine the entirety of the position for each program but with heavy emphasis on the starter.
This is an especially fluid season for quarterbacks in the league.
Nearly half of the league is looking for a new starter, and only two returning quarterbacks—Auburn’s Nick Marshall and Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace—started 10 games a year ago. (Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott did not start the opener against Oklahoma State, nor did he start the final three regular-season games.)
Senior starters are tough to come by as well. The only apparent locks are Marshall, Wallace, Florida’s Jeff Driskel and Georgia’s Hutson Mason.
Here’s an early sneak peak at the best quarterback situations across the SEC.
Only three spring games—at Oregon, Oregon State and Miami (Ohio)—remain on the schedule before the first offseason practice session of the College Football Playoff era is done.
The spring games send us into the summer with an enduring look at our favorite teams and players, at who might be ready to take the next step come fall. And whether that step be from prospect to rotation player, rotation player to starter, starter to star or from star to mega-star, a step up in this sport cannot be ignored.
For that reason, we have taken a look back at the whole slate of spring games to see who—or which unit—has hinted at taking such a step next season. Some are names you know and some are names you don't. Some are names you maybe never will.
But all are names who raised their coaches' eyebrows in their final showing of spring camp, heading into the offseason with momentum to improve their standing even more once practice resumes.
Here is your All-Spring Game College Football Team for 2014.
Note: This list will be updated, if necessary, after the May 3 games.
Think back to last April. Did you know who Jameis Winston, Nick Marshall or Bryce Petty were? Maybe if you were deep in the woods of college football you did, but generally speaking, they were unknowns.
It's the beauty of college football—something or someone new surprises us each and every year. Whether it was Auburn playing for a national title just one season removed from a losing record or a redshirt freshman winning the Heisman Trophy—you never know what college football has in store.
However, one thing remains a constant, and that's that quarterback is the most scrutinized position in sports.
With Johnny Manziel, Derek Carr and countless other big names off to the NFL this season, it means a new crop must arrive.
Let's explore 10 names who have the potential to become national stars in 2014.
*All 2013 stats courtesy CFBStats.com.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Having won three national championships since 2009, University of Alabama coach Nick Saban is already on top of the college football world, but that doesn't mean he often gets his way when it comes to rule changes.
Actually, he frequently gets blamed for things even when he had nothing to do with them.
But when asked about possible changes in college football and what he would like or not like to see changed, Saban usually has a well-thought-out answer about why he feels the way he does, even if it's something he may not feel strongly about.
A good example from this spring was when the coach took a question about whether players should have the option to unionize.
"I've always been an advocate of players' rights," he said. "I've always been an advocate of players being compensated the best that we can to help them. Whatever the NCAA rule is and whatever they decide to do, I've always been an advocate of the player and the quality of life that a player has. I think that having a voice in what happens, I think, is something that the players probably ought to have.
"And I'm really not opposed to that at all. I do think that it's not what it seems. It would be interesting to know how much—everybody knows what a scholarship is worth. That's pretty easy to figure out. But to do on a per-player basis, what we invest in the player to try to help them be successful. We spent, like, $600,000 last year on personal development programs, all things that directly affect the player having a chance to be successful. I can't even tell you what our academic support budget is, trying to invest in a player and what is the value of him getting an education and graduating from school here? Not just the value of the scholarship. What's the value of him getting an education?
"How much do we actually reinvest in quality of support staff to help develop players that may have a chance to go on and play at the next level, have great college careers, have a chance to win a championship. Pretty significant budget around here that, if you look at it, it really is invested back in the players.
"I don't think that the players just receive a scholarship. I think a lot of players really realize that, understand that and appreciate that. We can't pay them but we can reinvest in trying to help them be successful in their future, which I think we do a marvelous job here at the University of Alabama. I think a lot of people do. I think that's what makes great programs. I think that's why players want to come and be a part of the program, because we do reinvest in the future and their chances of being successful, and we do care, and it's not just about football.
"So there's a lot of value that players get from the experience that they have as college student-athletes, that really benefit their chances of being successful. I know that the fact that I played football and got a scholarship, but all the things that I benefited from have helped me be very, very successful. And I can't really tell you what the value of that is, but I think it's pretty significant."
If given the choice, here are five rule changes Saban would make if given the opportunity.
The Texas Longhorns have completed their first spring under Charlie Strong and his staff, and now is the perfect time to dissect the winners and losers from spring practice.
The Longhorns had a variety of starters who were injured for at least a portion of practice, including quarterback David Ash.
Without Ash, Strong had to rely on Tyrone Swoopes and tight end-turned-quarterback Miles Onyegbule to lead the offense. It was not always pretty, but there appears to be some hope at different positions for the Longhorns.
Here's a final look at the winners and losers from the Texas Longhorns' spring practice.
LSU's depth will be put to the test next season.
The Tigers have lost 17 players with eligibility remaining to the NFL draft over the past two seasons. It has become a yearly chore for Les Miles to put together a roster.
Yet he will not receive pity from other coaches and media across the country. He has a plethora of potential playmakers, most of whom hail from his own backyard in Louisiana.
LSU does not release an official depth chart after spring ball, but here is a preview of what it could look like for the season opener against Wisconsin.
Heisman Trophy-winning Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston led his team to a national title on the field this past season, but he continues to make negative headlines off the field.
According to TomahawkNation.com, via ESPNU, Winston was caught shoplifting crab legs from a grocery store in Florida:
Per Kiki Jones of WTXL.com, the Leon County Sheriff's Department confirmed that it had "contact" with Winston, but he was reportedly not arrested.
The incident ultimately resulted in a misdemeanor citation, according to TomahawkNation.com, via TMZ.
Following the citation, Winston has been suspended from the Florida State baseball team, manager Mike Martin confirmed (via Alex Yoder of WCTV and Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat):
Football coach Jimbo Fisher also spoke about Winston (via Natalie Pierre of the Tallahassee Democrat):
The Leon County Sheriff's office held a press conference regarding the incident, confirming that Winston had not paid for products at the market (via Paul Myerberg of USA Today and Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated):
As for a punishment, Winston will be doing community service (via Staples):
This is far from Winston's first off-field issue, the most notable being an accusation of sexual assault. He was ultimately not charged back in December due to a lack of evidence.
Winston obviously should have done everything possible to lay low and present himself as a model citizen in the wake of that situation, but he can't seem to stay out of trouble for whatever reason.
Winston put himself in an ideal position from a football standpoint by turning in one of the greatest freshman seasons in college football history last season. With another strong showing in 2014, he could potentially put himself in position to be selected early in the 2015 NFL draft should he decide to declare.
With character concerns starting to mount, though, it is possible that he is already putting his draft stock in jeopardy a year ahead of time.
It is important to remember that Winston is still only 20 years old, so he is susceptible to making bad decisions at times. Rather than being outraged over Winston's transgression, college football observers have mostly resorted to making jokes at Winston's expense.
Kevin McGuire of College Football Talk didn't pass up an opportunity to execute a play on words:
The same can be said for Brian Hamilton of SI.com:
Even the usually serious Paul Finebaum of ESPN got in on the act:
For Winston, though, this is no laughing matter. Not only does he have to mature in an effort to show NFL teams that they can count on him, but he also has to do so in order to show his teammates at Florida State that he is still committed to being a winning football player.
Athletes have obviously bounced back from far worse things than this in the past, but Winston has work to do in terms of rebuilding his reputation.
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