Sports Outside the Beltway

Former Missississippi State Coach Paul Davis dead at 87

He coached the Bulldogs for five years and after that spent two decades as an assistant at Auburn. RIP.

Former Mississippi State head football coach Paul Davis, who led the Bulldogs from 1962 to 1966, has died. He was 87.

Davis died Tuesday at Bethany House, a hospice in Auburn, Ala., according to a hospice spokeswoman and an official at Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home in Opelika, Ala. The cause of death was not given.

Davis, a native of Knoxville, Tenn., played at Ole Miss. He was Auburn’s defensive coordinator and assistant head coach under Shug Jordan from 1967 to 1975; an assistant for Doug Barfield from 1975 to 1980; and was a member of Pat Dye’s staff from 1987 to 1990.

In 1963, Davis’ Mississippi State team went 7-2-2 and battled North Carolina State and frigid temperatures to capture the Liberty Bowl in Philadelphia.

Davis’ teams were 20-38-2 overall and 9-22-2 in the Southeastern Conference in his five seasons at Mississippi State.

During his 17-year career at Auburn, Davis coached seven All-Americans and participated in nine bowl games.


Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy charged with assault

It is claimed he punched a cabbie and used racial slurs against the man. From AP-

Police arrested Mississippi men’s basketball coach Andy Kennedy early Thursday after a cab driver said the coach punched him while calling him “bin Laden” and other racial insults.

A pretrial hearing has been set for Jan. 16. Kennedy was charged with a first-degree misdemeanor count of assault, which would carry a maximum sentence of six months in jail if he is convicted.

Kennedy denied the allegations and his attorney, Mike Allen, entered a written plea of not guilty in Hamilton County Municipal Court on Thursday.

Kennedy, a former assistant and interim head coach at Cincinnati, was set to coach the Rebels against No. 9 Louisville in the SEC/Big East Invitational later Thursday.


The complaint filed in Municipal Court alleges that Kennedy assaulted Mohamed Moctar Ould Jiddou and “punched victim with a closed fist while shouting racial slurs.”

Truly bizarre. If Kennedy is convicted or cops to a plea deal, Ole Miss would be justified in firing him.


Miss St. basketball coach Rick Stansbury hospitalized

He’s coached the Bulldogs for 10 years and taken them to one SEC tournament title. From ESPN-

Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury was admitted Sunday night to Oktibbeha County Hospital with migraines and then went to Northeast Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo on Monday for more testing.

Assistant Robert Kirby told on Monday that he spoke with Stansbury and he fully expected him to coach the Bulldogs in Thursday night’s SEC/Big East Challenge against Cincinnati at U.S. Bank Arena.

Kirby said Stansbury had never experienced migraines before and wanted to get them checked when his condition did not improve. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if Stansbury attended practice Monday.

The Bulldogs are coming off a 19-point win over South Alabama after a loss at home to Charlotte in which the Bulldogs were “out-toughed,” according to Kirby. He said the Bulldogs went to a smaller lineup around shot-blocker Jarvis Varnado but are still looking for more on-court leadership moving forward.

I hope it is nothing serious. Get well coach.


Auburn to name Iowa State’s Gene Chizik as football coach

How many times does a career 5-19 head coach get an offer elsewhere. From ESPN-

Iowa State coach Gene Chizik has been hired as the next football coach at Auburn, Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said in a statement.

A former Auburn defensive coordinator, Chizik will succeed Tommy Tuberville, who resigned following 10 seasons. The hiring was first reported by several media outlets, including, the Birmingham News and the Mobile Press-Register.


Chizik made $1.05 million in base salary and guaranteed pay last season under a six-year deal and would owe Iowa State $750,000 if he takes the Auburn job.

Auburn was paying Tuberville an average of $3.3 million a year and agreed to give him $5.1 million to buy out his contract despite calling his departure a resignation. He stepped down after a 5-7 season and the Tigers’ first loss to rival Alabama in seven years, a 36-0 rout that was the final blow for a team that was predicted to win the Southeastern Conference Western Division.

Chizik is 5-19 in two seasons at Iowa State after stints running the defenses at Auburn and Texas. He coached the nation’s top scoring defense in 2004 in his third and final season with the Tigers. That defense allowed just 11 points a game and Auburn went undefeated.


Before coming to Iowa State to replace Dan McCarney, Chizik was one of the hottest defensive coordinators in the country. He led teams at Auburn and Texas to a 29-game winning streak over two-plus seasons before losing in 2006 to Ohio State while at Texas. He was Frank Broyles national award winner in 2004 and served as the coordinator on Texas’ 2005 national championship team.

But he’s gone just 5-19 in two seasons at Iowa State — including a 2-10 mark in 2008. The Cyclones went winless in Big 12 play this season, and their win total has dipped in each of the past three seasons.

Chizik is a familiar face to Auburn. Auburn, winner of 6 SEC Championships the latest of which was in 2004, has only had 7 head coaches since 1951.


Mississippi State hires Florida coordinator Dan Mullen to be head coach

Another dreadful college program in seek of its savoir. From ESPN-

Mississippi State will introduce Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen as its next football coach on Thursday morning in Starkville.

Terms of the deal are not known.

“A lot of people get in this profession and when you have head coaching opportunities, they’re very rare,” Florida coach Urban Meyer said at news conference in Hollywood, Fla. “Head coaching opportunities in the Southeastern Conference at a young age is a great honor. So [Tim Tebow] had the same exact reaction that I did: Doggone it, but we wish you well.”

Mullen, 36, fits the profile Mississippi State was searching for: a high-energy personality, a strong recruiter and an offensive background. In addition, Mullen knows the SEC after four years of working with Meyer in Gainesville — something that gave him an advantage over Oklahoma’s Kevin Wilson, another high-profile offensive coordinator interviewed for the job.

It is unclear whether Mullen will stay with Florida through the FedEx BCS National Championship Game against Oklahoma.

Most coordinators stay for the bowl game but there have been exceptions. MSU hasn’t been to a bowl for 8 years and has been dreadful since Jackie Sherrill retired. With plenty of better programs in the area trying to get the same recruits as MSU, Mullen has his work cut out for him.

Update- MSU was to a bowl game last year. I apologize to the commenter who sent me the correction. It wasn’t my intention to delete your comment.


Update: Tuberville Resigned


WSFA 12 News has confirmed through a person close to Tuberville that the coach resigned and was not fired.

The University will still honor Tuberville’s buyout clause and he will receive his $6 million severance package.

Of course, if they are honoring the buyout, one has to wonder if the resignation wasn’t a negotiated one…


Auburn Fires Tuberville

I just received a news alert from WSFA in Montgomery, AL stating that Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville has been fired.

I am not an Auburn fan, but rather just an observers of the world of Alabama college sports. This strikes me as a horrible move, given that he has really only had one bad season (i.e., this one).

Here are the basics: Report: Auburn Fires Tuberville

Tubberville was 85-40 in his decade with Auburn, including a 13-0 season in 2004 when the Tigers finished No. 2 in the nation.

But Auburn went 5-7 this year and was routed 36-0 by rival Alabama, currently ranked No. 1.

Apparently no official word from Auburn as yet, just a report out of the Birmingham News


Lane Kiffin named TN Vols head football coach

He finds new work two months after being fired as a NFL head coach. From AP-

Lane Kiffin, the former coach of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, is the new coach of Tennessee.

Kiffin becomes the school’s 21st coach, but only the third in the last 32 years. His selection comes after “the first national search for a football coach in University of Tennessee history,” athletic director Mike Hamilton said.

He takes over the Volunteers two days after Phillip Fulmer’s 17-season tenure ended with a win over Kentucky. Kiffin will start at $2 million annually, plus bonuses, under a six-year contract.

Kiffin was the youngest coach in the NFL’s modern history when hired to lead the Oakland Raiders in January 2007 at age 31 after spending two seasons as Southern California’s recruiting and offensive coordinator.

Tennessee is having a bad year in the always tough Southeastern Conference. I think Kiffin will have the Vols back on their feet in a year or two at most.


Alabama Whips Georgia 41-30

Alabama went into Athens a decided underdog against #3 ranked Georgia and stunned everyone with a 31-0 blowout in the first half.  The defense took the second half off, giving up 30 points — it would have been 31 had Georgia not gone for and missed a 2-point conversion.  Thankfully, the offense managed to add another 10 and hold on.

The AP’s Paul Newberry, who either didn’t watch the game or only cared about the outcome rather than the process, saw it much differently than this Alabama fan.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban gestures to the fans as he leaves the field after defeating Georgia 41-30 in an NCAA college football game in Athens, Ga., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Forget the blackout. This was an early knockout. Backed by a dominant defense and John Parker Wilson’s accurate passing, No. 8 Alabama raced to a stunning 31-point lead by halftime against self-destructing Georgia and held on to beat the third-ranked Bulldogs 41-30 Saturday night, establishing Nick Saban’s team as a national championship contender in his second season.


Alabama (5-0, 2-0) is poised to move up at least three or four spots when the new poll comes out Sunday, and the Tide certainly looked as impressive as anyone all year in winning decisively on the road against a team that started the season at the top of the heap.

Wilson went 13-of-16 passing for 205 yards and a touchdown, while Glenn Coffee ran for two scores in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score. Georgia scored two touchdowns in the waning minutes.

Not even the most optimistic Alabama fan could have expected Saban, who won a national championship at LSU, to turn the Tide so quickly. This again looks like a program more in keeping with the tradition of Bear Bryant, not Saban predecessor Mike Shula.

Looking for a motivational edge, Georgia came out wearing black jerseys, and most of its fans at 92,000-seat Sanford Stadium also took part in the “blackout.” But the biggest cheers came from the white-clad Alabamians sprinkled throughout the massive stands.

Georgia showed some disturbing tendencies even while winning its first four games, and those sure came back to bite the Bulldogs. They were flagged twice in the opening half for roughing the passer, crucial but familiar mistakes for a team that already was the most penalized in the SEC. Also, an offensive line featuring two freshman and two sophomores was no match for Alabama’s massive front led by 365-pound Terrence Cody.

Knowshon Moreno got only nine carries for 34 yards, and quarterback Matthew Stafford spent much of the game running for his life as Georgia’s 11-game winning streak ended.

The Bulldogs actually made Alabama a little nervous in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, closing to 31-17 on Prince Miller’s 92-yard punt return. But the Tide calmly wrapped it up on the next possession, driving 51 yards in eight plays for Leigh Tiffin’s second field goal.

Oddly, both Newberry and the ESPN game announcers repeatedly refer to an early pass interference call on Georgia as a critical play in the game.  In reality, that “mistake” was absolutely the right move on the part of the Georgia defender, saving a sure touchdown and forcing Alabama to drive fifteen yards to achieve a result they would otherwise have had easily.

I’m obviously thrilled by the outcome.  After the season opening win, also in Georgia, against then-highly ranked Clemson, I thought this team had a chance to knock off the Bulldogs.  I had no idea, though, that they’d dominate them so thoroughly in the first half.

My only fear is that the second half letdown bodes ill for the team’s ability to focus against some of their lesser opponents in upcoming weeks.  In college, which lacks a playoff system, you can’t have a bad week if you want a shot at a national championship.


Alabama Rolls Over Clemson, 34-10

Doug Benc/Getty Images  Nick Saban watched the Crimson Tide dominate No. 9 Clemson on Saturday.The Alabama Crimson Tide came in as heavy underdogs against the #9 ranked Clemson Tigers but surprised everyone by dominating the game from start to finish.


Nick Saban may face his toughest task yet: Holding down runaway expectations for his inexperienced Alabama team. Crimson Tide’s $4 million-per-year coach gave Alabama backers a reason to think big Saturday night, leading ‘Bama to a thorough 34-10 beating of No. 9 Clemson 34-10 at the Georgia Dome.

“Nobody can be satisfied with a one-game performance,” Saban said. “This will be a challenge for our team and it’ll be interesting to see how they respond.”

Still, as the Alabama band broke into Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” at the end, you had to wonder if they were honoring the Crimson Tide’s past, with 12 national titles and years of dominance in the Southeastern Conference under Bear Bryant, or gazing into the near future.

“It’s still early. We still got a long way to go,” cautioned quarterback John Parker Wilson, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third. “But we’ve got a good group of guys here who can do it.”

The statistical comparison was overwhelming:

Team Stat Comparison
1st Downs 25 11
Total Yards 419 188
Passing 180 188
Rushing 239 0
Penalties 6-40 6-43
3rd Down Conversions 11-17 1-9
4th Down Conversions 0-0 1-2
Turnovers 0 2
Possession 41:13 18:47

It’s worth pointing out that Clemson’s vaunted offense was held to a measly field goal, with 7 of the 10 Tiger points coming on a kickoff return.

ESPN’s Ivan Maisel thinks Alabama is ahead of schedule after a disappointing first year for head coach Nick Saban:

Alabama coach Nick Saban wanted to play No. 9 Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic for a lot of reasons. He wanted the national prime-time exposure of the opening Saturday night. He wanted his No. 24 Crimson Tide to have a presence in this recruiting hotbed. He wanted his young team — 14 freshmen on the two-deep — to play in a bowl-like atmosphere.

Saban, in sum, wanted this game in order to prepare his team for a future when they would be ready to contend for championships. In the wake of Alabama’s 34-10 victory, that may have been Saban’s only miscalculation.

Future? The future is now. If Alabama continues to play as well as it played Saturday night, the Crimson Tide will play in the Georgia Dome again this season — in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.

It’s an exciting start to the season. Clearly, Saban has done wonders in recruiting. But Alabama faces an absolutely brutal schedule, playing at Arkansas, at #1 Georgia, at #18 Tennessee, at #7 LSU, and closing the regular season at home against #10 Auburn. If they can even win three of those games, it would be a spectacular year. Even that, though, wouldn’t be enough to guarantee them a spot in the SEC title game, let alone the BCS championship game.


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