Day 1 of practice for Bill O'Brien

Bill O'Brien met with the media yesterday for the first time since hitting the field for spring ball.

O'Brien compared spring ball to mini camps at the NFL level because it's really about experimenting. Having the ability to practice someone at one position for a little while, and then move him to another position to see how they can get them in the best position to help the team.

The new head coach explained that the spring game will be used just like a game scenario for both the staff and players. Coaches will be in the press box, officials on the field, coaches relaying things on the field, special teams being utilized...making the operation as game like as possible, from top to bottom.

"If hard work is any measure of how good we're going to be, then we're on the right road" O'Brien added.

Saban says he'll stay at Bama for the rest of his career

When Nick Saban's new deal became official yesterday, he proclaimed that he plans to remain a Crimson Tide member for life.

The new contract will keep him in Tuscaloosa through 2019 and will pay an average base salary of $5.6 million per year during that span.

"From my standpoint, the acceptance of this extension represents our commitment, my commitment, our family's commitment, to the University of Alabama for the rest of our career" Saban told reporters after practice yesterday.

Saban said that decision was made after the National Championship game when other places showed their interest. Who that was isn't relevant now according to Saban,"It doesn't really matter, we wanted to stay at Alabama. We're staying at Alabama, and we're not interested in going any place else."

As we noted yesterday on The Scoop, most of the Tide's assistants received raises as well. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart received a two year extension to 2015 and will make $950,000 next season. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will make $590,000 during his three year contract, new outside linebackers coach Lance Thompson will make $375,000 on year one of his two year deal. Defensive line coach Chris Rumph will make $310,000, and running backs coach Burton Burns will be paid $290,000 next season.

Other assistants receiving raises include tight ends / special teams coach Bobby Williams ($325,000), strength and conditioning ccoach Scott Cochran ($325,000), receivers coach Mike Groh ($285,000) and secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt ($260,000) all received raises of $35,000. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland's salary will stay at $395,000.

"There's a very competitive market out there when it comes to assistant coaches, I think it's imperative that we keep continuity and that we had the opportunity to be competitive salary-wise with other schools who are trying to hire our coaches." Saban said of the raises.




Band of Brothers at Arizona

Last week I had the pleasure of spending 24 hours with Rich Rod and his staff at Arizona and came away believing that the future of Arizona football is bright. 

We met a couple of the staff for dinner the night we arrived in Tucson. Plenty of jokes amongst these guys, even though the three guys we were with had virtually never met prior to about 3 months ago. These guys are excited about where this program is headed. 

When we arrived at the facility in the morning, Rich and his staff were in a staff meeting and immediately welcomed us in. The room had a family feel. Everyone seemed to know their spot, have an understanding of their role, be on the same page; yet there were plenty of wise-cracks in the room as well...honestly, if I had had my eyes closed, I might have thought this was a band of brothers sitting around the kitchen table. 

First thing on the agenda that day was a meeting with Arizona's AD Greg Byrne. We'll bring you more from that meeting later; but one thing that Byrne said really stuck with me. He said that one of the reasons he hired Rich was that he felt Rich could reinvigorate the Arizona community to rally behind this program...to create a greater sense of pride in the program.

Later in the day I had the opportunity to visit with Rich Rod (along with Mike from Overtime Software) in his office and came away with an even greater belief that Rich specifically hired this staff to bring the family feeling back to Arizona football.  

At practice that afternoon I saw the same...literally and figuratively as I saw Rich Rod's wife and kids observing practice and his son working with some of the support staff (including director of on-campus recruiting Matt Dudek) ensuring one of the more important pieces of equipment was working as planned (see the mobile sound system pictured). I add figuratively because I also noted a large number of local high school coaches observing practice and interacting with the staff as well. 

After practice, the team and the coaches and their families head up to the training table on the club level of the stadium for dinner. One comment we heard a few times while touring the place and meeting a few of the players was that before this staff was hired there was desert as part of the training table dinners. Rich Rod and his guys had the standard ice cream cooler installed and judging by the grins we saw as the players mentioned it, we think that was a wise investment. 


From up top of the stadium you can really see the status of their new end zone addition (which will also house all of football operations). The project is rolling and is scheduled for completion shortly before Fall camp begins in 2013. 



As we all know, facilities are nice (and Arizona's will be quite nice once done); but players win games for you and right now several of the players will tell you that as a team they need to get stronger. Rich brought in a new strength & conditioning staff and over the next few recruiting classes will be able to bring in and cultivate more and more talent. We see these guys competing real soon; and in a few years, we can see Arizona scrapping their way into a Rose Bowl. Until we sat down with Rich we had no idea that Arizona had never played in the Rose Bowl. When they do, we want to be there to see the smiles on the coaches, administrators and players faces. 

More to come about this staff over the next few weeks...



Trooper Taylor: We had to say "Whoa!"

Trooper Taylor came away impressed with today's practice, noting the teams intensity and enthusiasm as the main reasons.

Day to day, Gene Chizik sets the tempo for the practice, letting players know when to go full speed, and when it's more of a "thud" tempo. Taylor said that they had to say "Whoa" and slow things down today, and as a coach, you have to really like that mentality on day one of full pads.

Taylor added that they'll know when they're making progress when they can say the physicality and enthusiasm is at the same level after five days of padded practices.

A lot of the new enthusiasm can be traced to the fact that everyone is competing for a starting spot in the spring he explains. 

"I think the thing that's creating a lot of enthusiasm is everybody's trying to compete for a job. They understand this is their 15-day interview, because come two-a-days we're really giving the new freshmen a chance to interview and then polish them for the season. If you're going to win a job, you better win a job this spring." 


USC's new facilities, a game-changer

At FootballScoop we hate to break bad news. Prepare yourselves, you might want to sit down for this.

As most of you probably know, USC won 10 games last year, including handing Chip Kelly his first loss ever at Autzen, all while being on double-not-so-secret probation from the NCAA. The part you might not know is that Lane Kiffin and his staff were able to do that despite having what are easily one of the worst set of facilities in the conference. Literally, if it rained, they took on water in the locker room, the weight room, etc...

After touring the current facilities, our respect for what both Pete Carroll and Lane Kiffin have done at USC has grown significantly. 

Now, here's the part that hurts...in a few months, Lane and the team (oh yeah, Matt Barkley's back) are moving into what will immediately become the nicest set of facilities in the conference. This might just be checkmate for Lane when it comes to recruiting. He's already got the weather, a great campus environment (although the surrounding neighborhood isn't as nice as one might like...but we don't see that slowing down too many kids), campus life that we're certain most 18 year old boys will enjoy to the fullest extent, the legend that is USC Football including six Heisman's on display as you walk into the existing facilities, etc...

These new facilities, scheduled to be completed in late July, will be very, very nice. You'll walk in and immediately see an amazingly large an impressive video display (it's actually comprised of 273 smaller panels). Staff members that have seen the demo say the pictures and visual capabilities are beyond anything they have ever seen before. 

If we were to put the before and after pictures side by side, we're quite certain those recruiting against SC might ram their head into a wall.

The building is built; but they are still adding drywall, flooring, pulling cable, etc...it's a dusty place right now. Thus, none of the design components are in just yet; but once they are, this place is going to be very nice.  

Opposing coaches who get to see Lane's office suite will immediately be placing a call to their AD saying they need an upgrade. For us to describe it in words would not be appropriate....we'll try to head back out there in August and take some video. 

More to come throughout the week on our visit with the USC coaching staff...

Below are a couple of pics from our day there. 

John Baxter talking Academic Game Plan. 


The view as you enter the current coaches offices.


Six Heismans on display.


SC's current training table (available to all students during the daytime).


Plenty of Trojans have made SI.


The current weight room is adequate. The new one will be top of the line.


The Coliseum. 


Leaving the tunnel, entering the field.


The massive new space for the 273 panel video board (will be amazing).


View from Lane's new office onto the practice fields.


"Prep Not Hype" - The motto for Spring Ball 2012.

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