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Staff Raises Further Proof That Alabama Has Lane Kiffin at a Bargain

Call it a raise, call it a market adjustment or call it "the offseason," but June is the time where assistant coaches learn just how much they're worth for the upcoming football season. 

In Alabama's case, the assistants are worth quite a bit.

According to AL.com's Michael Casagrande, six of the Crimson Tide's seven returning assistants got extensions and raises approved. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart jumped from $1.35 million to $1.5 million per year (thanks in part to the beefy contracts of John Chavis and Will Muschamp), offensive line coach Mario Cristobal jumped from $500,000 to $515,000 and new defensive backs coach Mel Tucker saw his new $500,000 deal finalized.

Who's the one assistant who didn't get a bump?

Oh, just the guy who helped set the program record for total offense in 2014 with 484.5 yards per game—offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin's salary won't budge from last season's figure of $680,000. That's neither a big deal nor an indication of Kiffin's relationship with head coach Nick Saban or Alabama. 

As Casagrande notes, Kiffin is still being paid his buyout as head coach from USC, and whatever Alabama pays him will only cut away at what USC is paying him so long as his Alabama salary doesn't exceed his buyout figure. 

What. A. Bargain.

According to last year's USA Today assistant coaching salary database, that figure put Kiffin behind former Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder—who coordinated the worst defense in the conference (450.8 YPG), former Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper—who coordinated the SEC's third-worst offense (367.6 YPG) and wasn't retained by the new staff, and current LSU defensive coordinator Kevin Steele—who was a position coach on the same staff as Kiffin in 2014.

Not only is Alabama benefiting from Kiffin's USC buyout, but it isn't forced to give him market corrections based on success or the going rate of top-tier offensive coordinators.

Does Kiffin deserve some heat for what happened in the Allstate Sugar Bowl national semifinal loss to Ohio State?


It might have been a smart idea to run a little bit more in the second half, but the Blake Sims-Amari Cooper connection worked well all year, so why not try to keep it going on the game's biggest stage. Frankly, it'd have been much more helpful that night for Saban and Smart to figure out a way to slow down Ohio State's offense.

Kiffin is a lightning rod and will take the blame. But you can't deny just how good he was last year for the Tide. After all, why else would he be named a finalist for the Broyles Award given to the best assistant in college football?

He took a quarterback in Sims—who once played running back during his time in Tuscaloosa—and made him a bona fide weapon, essentially on the fly, as the season progressed.

He helped launch Cooper, who was already one of the best wide receivers in the country, into a Heisman Trophy finalist. That's an enormous leap for a wide receiver for the increasingly quarterback-driven award.

You might hear over the next few days or weeks that the absence of a raise for Kiffin is a sign that there's trouble in paradise or that Saban doesn't have faith in his second-year offensive coordinator. Don't be fooled by the noise.

Alabama is getting Kiffin at a bargain.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

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.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Fact or Fiction: Answering the Most Burning Questions for the Clemson Tigers

The Clemson Tigers are returning a solid team from last year, with a fantastic 2015 recruiting class and a possible Heisman contender in quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Stephen Nelson is joined by Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer to discuss the burning questions for Clemson heading into 2015. 

Will Deshaun Watson win the Heisman Trophy next season? Check out the video and let us know!

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College Football's Most Expensive Ticket Prices for 2015 Season

From massive TV deals all the way down to stadium souvenirs, college football is a big-money sport—and the cash flow seems to be increasing by the day.

One of the biggest examples of the lucrative world of college football can be found in ticket prices. Season and individual-game tickets for powerhouses sell out in minutes, and the resale marketplace explodes with activity months in advance.

With a couple of months to go before the start of the 2015 season, let's take a look at how much fans will have to spend in order to lock down tickets for some of the biggest games of the year.

These are the 10 most expensive 2015 regular season games in college football, ranked by the cheapest ticket currently available online from StubHub.

Secondary market prices will fluctuate in the coming weeks and months—more tickets are set to become available for some of these games. However, if fans want to go ahead and guarantee a seat at these matchups now, this is the bare minimum they will have to pay.

(Note: The Shamrock Series game between Boston College and Notre Dame at Fenway Park has been omitted from this list because of the small amount of tickets that have been released. The cheapest of the 33 tickets currently available online comes in at $1,005.60.)

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Fact or Fiction for Florida State Seminoles Heading into 2015 Season

The Florida State Seminoles finished last season as one of the four teams represented in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

What are their expectations for 2015?

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer joined Stephen Nelson to play a game of "Fact or Fiction."

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Insider Buzz: Will Charlie Strong Turn Texas' 2016 Recruiting Class Around?

The Texas Longhorns are attempting to fight their way back to the top of the Big 12 and beyond, but they will have to turn it all around on the recruiting trail before that progress can begin. 

Watch as Stephen Nelson is joined by Bleacher Report Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue to discuss how Texas plans to save this 2016 class.

What kind of recruiting class can the Longhorns have? Check out the video and let us know! 

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SEC Football: Dark-Horse All-American Candidates for Every Team

By now, you've probably picked up at least one college football magazine and perused the preseason All-American lists to find the usual suspects listed on the first or second teams.

Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, Georgia running back Nick Chubb, Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott are just a few of the stars who will undoubtedly be featured. 

But what fun is that?

It's college football, and it's unpredictable. Let's dig a little deeper for some dark-horse All-American candidates for every SEC team based on talent, scheme and opportunity.

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Which Team Has the Most Dominant Defense in College Football in 2015?

Defense wins championships. The defensive side of the ball affects the game drastically, and it can be the difference in some of the biggest games. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer debate who has the best defense in college football. 

Which team will have the best defense in 2015? Check out the video and let us know!

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Ammon Lakip, Clemson Kicker, Arrested: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Clemson kicker Ammon Lakip reportedly was arrested in early June in South Carolina and faces charges of cocaine possession and driving under the influence.  

Phil Kornblut of the Sports Talk Radio Network reports the incident occurred in Pickens County, and the charges are listed as first offenses against the Tigers starting kicker. It's also noted that no action has been taken publicly by the school in response to the situation.

TigerNet obtained the police report and provided further details about the June 6 incident from the arresting officer:

It should be noted that the vehicle was leaving an area of several bars at a time when bars are usually closing. As I watched the vehicle pass by I noticed that the driver had a fixed blank glassy glaze about his face and had the appearance of someone who may be under the influence. I began to follow the vehicle and observed as it drifted left several times as well as impede upon the boarded dotted line to its left.

After pulling over the car, the officer states Lakip had trouble following simple requests and was arrested after performing poorly in the field-sobriety tests. A search of the vehicle led to the discovery of a white powder consistent with cocaine.

The police report notes he was booked at Clemson city jail. Larry Williams of Rivals passed along the booking information regarding the case:

Lakip took over the starting kicking job for the Tigers last season. He converted on 21 of 28 field goals (75 percent) and made all but one of his 44 extra-point attempts.

His status with the program could now be a question mark. Redshirt freshman Alex Spence would likely be the next man up if Lakip is suspended or released from the program.


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Offseason Transfers, Dismissals That Will Have Biggest Impact on 2015 Season

This is the time of year college football coaches tend to dread. Spring practice is over. Their recruits are largely all on campus and preparing for the upcoming season through “voluntary” workouts, but they have little control over their teams. They aren’t allowed to have contact with their players, operating via proxy through strength coaches.

This is the time of year that the 3 a.m. phone call is feared the most. An arrest, a situation or something worse that alters their team’s composition negatively. There’s nothing they can do to control it except to offer sage words of advice for their players. However, an offseason dismissal or transfer can really change a season for the worse before it even begins. Here’s a look at the offseason events that will shape the 2015 season.

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Georgia Football: Incoming Freshmen Most Likely to Start This Season

Once again, the Georgia Bulldogs will bring in a top-10 recruiting class this fall (via 247Sports), and a handful of the new recruits will have a chance to play right away. For the most part, the Bulldogs are set with their starting positions, and it's unlikely a true freshman will break into the starting lineup when the Bulldogs open the season in September.

But there will be a time when a few of the young players will rise to the top of the depth chart due to injuries to veterans or their own progress during the season. But which freshmen have the best chance to do more than just be part of the rotation?

Here’s a look at the incoming freshmen likely to start this season.

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Texas Football: Incoming Freshmen Most Likely to Start This Season

It's pretty obvious that freshmen will be the bright spot for the Longhorns this season.

As 10 starters depart for either the NFL or a life after football, the nation's No. 9 class arrives to replenish the ranks. There will be a drop off in on-field production, but the trade-off is a tremendous group of talent that can be developed to carry this program into the future.

Before the season reaches its end, many of these players should see their first college action. The lack of returning talent almost demands it.

But who will start in his first year out of high school? Malik Jefferson and Connor Williams busted through this spring to fill spots that needed talents like theirs. Now, it's their classmates' turn to show Charlie Strong and the rest of this coaching staff that they're ready to go right away.

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Ohio State Football: 5 Recruits Urban Meyer Wishes He Had Landed

Ohio State is absolutely loaded with superstars for another title run in 2015, but imagine a parallel universe where guys such as Nick Chubb, Kendall Fuller and Myles Garrett are also suiting up in scarlet and gray this fall.

That possibility was almost a reality for the Buckeyes. 

Urban Meyer has shifted Ohio State's recruiting into a higher gear since taking over in 2012, signing the Big Ten's top class in each of his first four recruiting cycles in Columbus. But the Buckeyes have missed on some of their top targets during that span—guys who would have taken Ohio State's roster from "this is unfair" levels to "how is this even possible" status.

Which targets in particular? 

These five players would fill holes in Ohio State's two-deep, upgrade a particular unit or take away one of the opposition's biggest weapons.


Nick Chubb, Georgia Running Back

Ohio State is set at running back with Ezekiel Elliott, who will enter the season as a Heisman Trophy front-runner, but what if he was backed up by another Heisman contender in Georgia running back Nick Chubb?

The Buckeyes were in the thick of Chubb's recruitment two years ago. 

As a 5-star running back for the class of 2014, Chubb boasted offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Texas and a host of others. The Buckeyes were nearing the reality of life without Carlos Hyde in their backfield, so they were trying to build up their depth to complement the unproven Elliott.

Chubb was a Georgia lean throughout the entire process and committed to join Mark Richt eight months before signing day. He went on to have a fantastic freshman season for the Bulldogs, running for an incredible 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns filling in for the injured Todd Gurley.

Imagine that kind of playmaking ability coming off the bench to spell Elliott.

Meyer tried to make that happen. According to Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionOhio State's head man advised Chubb to tell the Georgia coaches he was off the market.

“I remember Coach (Urban) Meyer from Ohio State told me to tell the Georgia coaches that I’m ‘all his.’ I just laughed," Chubb said, via Carvell. "He was just recruiting me, and he knew I was big on Georgia. And no, I never passed the message to the Georgia coaches.”


Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame Linebacker

With Darron Lee, Raekwon McMillan and Joshua Perry in the fold, Ohio State's linebacker unit should be one of the best in the Big Ten this year.

But if Meyer had landed Jaylon Smith back in 2013, the Buckeyes would likely have the best linebacker unit in the country. 

That's no slight toward Perry, who led Ohio State with 124 tackles in 2014. But pairing Smith with Ohio State's sophomore dynamos in Lee and McMillan would give the Buckeyes a younger, more athletic group for the middle of their defense. 

Smith emerged as one of Notre Dame's most disruptive defenders as a true sophomore last season, leading the team in tackles, solo tackles and tackles for loss. He earned second-team All-American honors from the Associated Press and was a semifinalist for the Bednarik and Butkus awards.

But Smith committed to the Irish over the Buckeyes in June 2012, forcing Meyer to pursue heralded linebackers Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson. Both eventually signed with Ohio State, but three years later, neither are suiting up for the Buckeyes. Mitchell transferred to Texas Tech to be closer to his ailing father, and Johnson walked away from football due to arthritis. 


Speedy Noil, Texas A&M Wide Receiver

Ohio State has spent the offseason searching for a replacement for Devin Smith, the blazing deep threat who led the country in average yards per reception by a wide margin in 2014.

That process would have been a lot easier had Meyer landed Speedy Noil for his '14 class.

True to his name, Noil is a speedy wideout for the Texas A&M Aggies, whom he chose over the Buckeyes before enrolling early for his freshman season last year. Boasting 4.4 speed, he thrived in Kevin Sumlin's system, hauling in 46 passes for 583 yards and five touchdowns. He consistently got behind defenses and made the tough catches—the two traits that made Devin Smith so special.

If Ohio State had earned his commitment, Meyer would have a wide receiver unit that features Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith along with Noil.

That's a whole lot of speed and playmaking ability to defend. 


Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech Cornerback

The loss of Doran Grant would be a lot easier to handle if Ohio State had Kendall Fuller in its secondary.

Rated a 5-star cornerback and the No. 17 overall recruit for the class of 2013, Fuller had offers from most of the major programs in the country, including Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. Ohio State was among his suitors, but Meyer couldn't pull him away from Virginia Tech, where he became an instant star. 

The Buckeyes saw firsthand how good he was last year, when the Hokies upset the Buckeyes 35-21 in the home opener. 

Now, instead of having Fuller anchor a secondary that also features 5-star safety Vonn Bell, Ohio State will have to figure out a way to overcome his otherworldly talents when it travels to Blacksburg, Virginia, to open the '15 season.


Myles Garrett, Texas A&M Defensive End

Ohio State already has one of the country's most dangerous pass-rushers in Joey Bosa, who became the first unanimous first-team All-American for Ohio State since James Laurinaitis in 2007. He was dominant for the Buckeyes last year, notching 13.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss—marks that ranked fifth nationally.

But how much more dangerous would Bosa be if he had an elite counterpunch like Myles Garrett on the other side of the line?

Garrett was the No. 2 overall recruit for the '14 class and the top-ranked weak-side defensive end who chose Texas A&M over Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State and others. He thrived for the Aggies as a true freshman last season, notching an impressive 11.5 sacks in just 12 games. 

Having that kind of pressure on the opposite side of Bosa would be next to impossible to block.

Garrett seriously considered the Buckeyes. The Arlington, Texas, native told Scout (h/t Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue) that if he chose a college outside of the Lone Star State, Ohio State was at the top of his list.

"If I want to get away from home, that’s the best place to go," Garrett said of Ohio State.

The Buckeyes feel good about Tyquan Lewis, who emerged this spring and will likely start at weak-side defensive end. But Lewis doesn't have the upside or the pass-rushing ability that Garrett possesses. 


All recruiting rankings and information via 247Sports.

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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