Happy Monday, everyone. It was a rough weekend for the big winter sports as Avery Johnson’s squad dropped a very winnable game in Waco while the Gym Tide lost to LSU for the ninth consecutive time. Kristy Curry’s women’s basketball team salvaged things with a road win over a struggling Georgia squad.
The biggest news of the day is the apparent hiring of Mississippi State DL coach Brian Baker, which should round out the coaching staff.
A native of Baltimore, Md., Baker has been with the Bulldogs since 2016. He is coming off his third season in Starkville, Miss., and first on Joe Moorhead’s staff. He mentored defensive linemen Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat, who were both All-SEC selections this past season. Sweat was second in the SEC in sacks (11.5) while Simmons was fourth in tackles for loss (17.0).
Prior to that, he spent the 1996-2014 seasons coaching for eight different NFL teams, working with either the defensive line or outside linebackers at the professional level. Baker coached eight Pro Bowlers during that span, including the likes of DeMarcus Ware and Julius Peppers.
Baker certainly has an outstanding resume, and those Mississippi State defensive lines from the last three years were excellent. It will probably be a while yet before Saban officially announces anything, but as it stands right now you’d expect things to shake out something like this:
Steve Sarkisian - OC/QB
Charles Huff - RB
Holmon Wiggins - WR
Kyle Flood - OL
Jeff Banks - TE/ST
Pete Golding - DC/ILB
Sal Sunseri - OLB
Karl Scott - CB
Charles Kelly - S
Brian Baker - DL
Looks pretty good from here.
In case you missed it, a speech Saban made at the AFCA back in 2014 has been making the rounds. Because we live in stupid times, it has been cited as if he was speaking about the 2018 squad. Even though he wasn’t, there may be some insight into his reasons for the overhaul.
"They weren't my guys for 3 years, 4 years or 5 years. They're my guys forever. And that's the way we should all feel about what we do." Nick Saban. pic.twitter.com/jaFwWxPwHy— James Light (@JamesALight) January 25, 2019
We will never fully know the reasons for all of the turnover, but relationships with the players almost assuredly played a role.
Isaiah Buggs and Ross Pierschbacher had a nice week at the Senior Bowl.
Buggs said he enjoyed the competition against players from all over the nation the most during Senior Bowl Week, and he said he also learned something about himself.
”That I can compete at any level,” Buggs said. “I have an extra notch to give. Even when I feel like I don’t, I do. The coaches pushed me this week on elaborating on that, and I did that.”
Pierschbacher and Howard worked in the South offensive line, which had two distinct units. Pierschbacher anchored one of the lines at center while Mississippi State’s Elgton Jenkins handled the center work with the other.
Both of those guys have a great shot at long NFL careers, just based on the work ethic and professionalism alone.
Interesting nugget from Gardner Minshew about his brief Alabama commitment.
At the end of the 2017, degree in hand, he looked for a new home. He committed to Alabama, imagining himself competing with either Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts for playing time.
“I was going to Alabama,” he said. “The plan was to walk in as the No. 2 because they thought one of the two guys was leaving. I was going to split the reps 50-50. I was going to take my odds there. Neither of the guys left so I found another spot, and Washington State had a great year.”
I guess that explains it.
Levi and RoFo got it done in Buffalo this year.
From 'Bama to the Bills – Levi Wallace & Robert Foster shattered expectations this season.https://t.co/85XNJXOSte pic.twitter.com/HQGzYzvJ3t— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 26, 2019
You could have made a lot of money betting on these two guys to finish in the top two among rookies at their respective positions.
Last, Cecil Hurt is getting some well-deserved accolades.
Hurt, winner of numerous writing awards, including most recently the 2018 National Sports Media Association’s Alabama Sportswriter of the Year, has covered Alabama sports for The Tuscaloosa News since 1982.
Hurt, born in Tuscaloosa, graduated from the University of Alabama and worked for the UA athletic department as an undergrad.
Congratulations to a Tuscaloosa institution.
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.