There’s never a dull year in the world of sports, and 2014 was certainly no exception. While it definitely had its low points (Donald Sterling, Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson), 2014 still produced more than its fair share of memorable games, performances and moments, so let’s take a look back at some of the best things that the world of sports had to offer in 2014.
At this point it’s safe to say that Lane Kiffin must be a really good interviewer, since he always seems to land jobs he doesn’t deserve. On Friday afternoon rumors began to circulate that Kiffin and Alabama had come to an agreement that would make him the team’s new offensive coordinator. I have talked to a source that claims a deal isn’t yet done, but it is being worked on right now and is imminent. That fits with what ESPN has now reported.
Kiffin was fired as USC’s head coach in September after an embarrassing 62-41 loss at Arizona State. In his three-plus years with the Trojans he posted a 28-15 record after a one-year stretch at Tennessee where he led the team to a 7-6 record.
Kiffin has a good relationship with Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who he looks at as a role model. The two men visited with each other before the Sugar Bowl to (as Saban put it) “share ideas and exchange ideas … (for) professional development.
Lane is a really good offensive coach, and I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for him. Just to come in and brainstorm a little bit to get some professional ideas with our guys is a really positive thing.
Former offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier left Alabama to take the same position at Michigan on Thursday and rumors had Kiffin at the top of Saban’s list.
If Kiffin wanted to rehab his image in the coaching world, working with Saban was the exact right thing to do.
They were both born in 1951. Mack Brown, the soon-to-be former head coach at the University of Texas, is three months older than Nick Saban, the head coach at the University of Alabama.
As head coaches at their respective schools, they both have multiple appearances in the BCS National Championship game. Saban has the better overall record in the BCS title game, as he is 4-0 (3-0 with Alabama, 1-0 with LSU), while Brown is 1-1.
Saban won the only encounter that pitted them directly against each other, in the BCS title game for the 2009-10 season.
In that 2009 season championship game (it came in January of 2010), Alabama defeated Texas, 37-21. Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram rushed for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns to help the Crimson Tide secure a title. But that contest is most remembered as the game that Colt McCoy went down early on with a freak injury to his shoulder, and didn’t return.
McCoy had played every game of his four year career as a starter (53 games) and took many vicious hits without having to come out of a game. This particular hit jarred him at the most unfortunate of moments. Without McCoy, Texas didn’t really stand a chance to win, although they did make a comeback late to make the game closer.
If McCoy hadn’t gotten hurt and had led the Longhorns to victory, it would have taken one national championship away from Saban and would have given Brown one more, thus closing the gap between them considerably.
These guys are competitors. They are fiery, heated competitors who want to be known as the best in their field. Right now, Brown can’t say that, while Saban can. Saban has earned the title of “best in the business,” just as Brown earned it and then lost it a few years back.
What’s the edge that Saban has on Brown? It’s all about recruiting, or, in other words, it’s all about the hair.
The recent “60 Minutes” piece on Saban made it pretty clear that he is a marketing machine and he’s in this to become legendary, even more legendary than Bear Bryant. He wants to dominate and he believes his feisty, focused, football personality along with his youthful appearance is what attracts the best recruits.
For a recruit, going to Alabama is like having “Benjamins” for pupils. The next step is the NFL.
One day after the 62-year-old, Saban, signed a multi-year/multi-million dollar extension, 62-year-old Brown called it quits.
Brown is resigning from Texas and possibly retiring now and won’t have to compete against Saban, his recruiting or hairstyle, any longer.
Mack Brown stewed hard over all the stuff he’d gone through this season. He wanted to fight back and show he could build a title contender all over again.
But, it’s almost impossible to do it all over again in sports once the magic is gone. Sports are often about momentum, fluidity, staying current, topical and progressive.
The lesson to be learned here for the pretentious and ego-driven coach is that Brown needed to get rid of the gray years ago. Saban figured that out himself.
Saban paints his hair and couldn’t imagine looking gray and old. Brown stayed true to himself and never tried to be someone he wasn’t. In the messed up world of college football, it seems perfectly normal that Saban will be around at his age to keep pressing the record books further and that Brown, at the same age, will be at home doing some gardening.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com
On Tuesday reports surfaced all over the sports world that Texas head football coach Mack Brown was poised to step down after 16 years on the job. While Brown later refuted that narrative Tuesday afternoon, several other reports and sources have popped up claiming he would resign by the end of the week.
Brown reportedly wants to be the one to tell his players and staff and doesn’t want them to read about it on the Internet. The original report came from Orangebloods.com and Brown reacted harshly to it.
Brown told the website Horns247.com the following about the Orangebloods report:
I haven’t seen (the) article. I’m in Florida recruiting. If I had decided to step down, I sure wouldn’t be killing myself down here. I have not decided to step down.
A source told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy that discussions have been ongoing between Brown, Texas president Bill Powers and Brown’s agent Joe Jamail. The talks are apparently amicable and they are just working out the particulars of his exit. Certain details must obviously be figured out first but the source was adamant that Brown will not be coaching at Texas next season.
Again, several reports still suggest that Brown has not decided to step down, but we’ve been hearing that this move has been in the works for weeks, regardless of how the season finished.
The 62-year-old Brown has been at Texas since the 1998 season and has posted a record of 158-47. He has won two Big 12 Championships (2005, 2009) and one BCS National Championship (2005).
As would be expected, with news of Brown’s departure, rumors of Alabama coach Nick Saban’s move to Texas have already begun swirling.
One of the most anticipated games of the season takes plays in Week 3 of the college football year, when Alabama and Texas A&M battle for an early season edge in the SEC West.
Johnny Manziel and the Alabama defense will be headlining this game, but here are some other things to look for during Saturday’s contest.
The Aggies have been atrocious defensively in their first two games of the season, surrendering 31 points to Rice in the opening week and 28 to Sam Houston State last Saturday. Texas A&M ranks 84th in points allowed and has given up nearly 900 yards of offensive production in its first two games.
While the offense has been productive, playing against Alabama will be a different story. If the Aggies can’t get the Alabama offense off the field, it will be a long afternoon in College Station for Kevin Sumlin.
A.J. McCarron’s accuracy
In the season opener, McCarron completed just 10 of his 23 passes for 110 yards against Virginia Tech. McCarron isn’t on any Heisman Trophy lists or known to be a “game-changer,” but his ability to manage a game has made him successful in Nick Saban’s offense.
The offense doesn’t need to spectacular on Saturday, especially against a bad Texas A&M defense, but Alabama will need to be consistent.
In last year’s meeting, McCarron finished 21-for-34 for 309 yards and a touchdown, but threw two costly interceptions that hindered the Crimson Tide. He doesn’t have to record big numbers on Saturday, but hovering around a 60 percent completion rate and taking care of the football will be essential to keeping Texas A&M’s offense on the sideline.
Christion Jones in the return game
In the Week 1 win over Virginia Tech, Jones returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns, proving that Alabama is dangerous in every aspect of the game.
Jones has the capability to break a game wide open and was a game-changer against the Hokies.
If Alabama’s special teams unit is sound and Jones is weaving in and out of tacklers as he was two weeks ago, it could leave a short field for the Alabama offense and can separate the Crimson Tide from the Aggies.
Texas A&M’s running game
Even though the Aggies have last season’s Heisman Trophy winner under center, it doesn’t take away from a solid rushing attack they’ve had through the first two weeks of the season.
The backfield duo of Ben Malena and Tra Carson has combined for 300 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
The running backs won’t have as much success against Alabama, as the Crimson Tide’s defensive line will be able to make some plays, but providing a balanced offensive attack will prove beneficial for the Aggies in this contest.
Look for a healthy dose of Malena and Carson in addition to the passing game from Manziel.
Time of possession
This may be the most interesting aspect of the game.
Texas A&M is going to want to keep its offense on the field for as long as possible on Saturday. However, Alabama doesn’t need to win the time of possession battle to win the game. With the biggest question mark of the game surrounding A&M’s defense, the only way the Aggies can win is if Manziel is on the field, taking care of the football and putting up points.
Alabama, on the other hand, has the ability to create turnovers and put itself in good field position thanks to big plays on special teams.
If the Crimson Tide control the ball for more than 28 minutes, it will spell sweet revenge for Nick Saban and the defending champions.