Saban: Second chances part of running program

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Day 3 of SEC Media days has officially kicked off — as Ohio State/Auburn fans already know— and leading off the festivities was, along with the Ol’ Ball Coach, the headliner of the four-day event, Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Not surprisingly, the man entering his ninth year in Tuscaloosa was asked a variety of questions on myriad topics, with those questions encompassing both on- and off-field issues his Tide and the game of college football are currently facing.  One in particular, involving what some are already perceiving as an excuse for the semifinal loss to Ohio State in the College Football Playoff, will likely grab most of the headlines.

And in that vein, with a note-by-note look at Saban’s half-hour at the podium, we’ll lead off with The Nicktator’s complaint regarding NFL draft grades.

PUSH BACK NFL DRAFT GRADES
Saban expressed his displeasure at the fact that the NFL delivered its grades to the Tide’s draft-eligible players Dec. 15, while his squad was in the midst of preparing for its CFP matchup with the Buckeyes.  According to Saban, his team’s chemistry between the SEC Championship game and the Sugar Bowl (semifinal) was affectedby those draft grades, and that some players played not to get hurt in the game.

The solution to that “problem,” per Saban, is for the NFL to not release the draft grades until the player has played his last game.  That would mean the NFL would need to push back the deadline for declaring for the draft from Jan. 15 to a week to 10 days later.

One thought on this: didn’t Ohio State’s players also receive their NFL draft grades around that same time?  Just thinking out loud.  Spitballin’, if you will.

SECOND-CHANCE NICK
If the NFL draft grades brouhaha doesn’t grab the headlines, this one likely will.

The UA football program sustained a bit of a black eye earlier this year whenJonathan Taylor was dismissed from the Tide after he was arrested on a domestic violence charge.  If it were Taylor’s first offense, it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal.  However, the defensive lineman was dismissed by Georgia last July after he was arrested on similar charges, then given a controversial second chance by Saban.

So, does the coach regret giving Taylor a second chance?  From al.com:

Says it’s an emotional and complicated issue. Saban said he does not regret giving a player an opportunity and [Taylor] didn’t get due process in the case.

Saban did say “we don’t condone domestic violence in our program,” although that stance doesn’t mesh with his initial decision to give a second chance to a player already charged with domestic violence.

CONFEDERATE FLAG FLAP
With the likes of its Head Ball Coach and his boss joining the overwhelming chorus of voices calling for its removal, it was announced earlier this month that the Confederate flag would no longer fly over the South Carolina Capitol grounds.  In a move that should surprise no one, Saban was asked about the flag flap during his time at the podium and (surprise!) the coach is against anything as divisive as the symbol that’s been co-opted by hate groups.

“My opinion is anytime we have a symbol that represents something that’s mean-spirited or doesn’t represent equal rights for all people, that I’m not for having that symbol represent anything we’re involved in,” Saban said. “It’s not my decision what the governor does or what our university does. It’s just my opinion and how I feel about symbols that are not positive towards human rights and everybody having equal opportunity.”

AND THE STARTER UNDER CENTER IS…
In a move that will surprise absolutely no one, Saban didn’t tip his hand when it comes to a starter at the quarterback position.  And a big reason why he didn’t tip anything?  The Tide’s waiting for someone to take “the bull by the horns” and grab the starting job.  That didn’t happen in the spring, and the competition will resume in summer camp early next month.

Jake Coker is still the presumptive front-runner for the job, although those around the program are disappointed he has yet to grab the job by the throat and run with it.  In that vein, Saban stated that there are still “several guys” still fighting for the job, and that group would include Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman, David Cornwelland freshman Blake Barnett.

2023 NFL Playoffs AFC, NFC Championship Round Schedule: Dates, start times, how to watch/live stream info for today’s games

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The 2023 NFL Playoffs have been filled with nothing short of excitement! The action continues this week with the Championship Round on Sunday, January 29. First, at 3:00 PM ET Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers will head to Lincoln Financial Field to take on Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles. Then at 6:30 PM ET Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals take on Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.

See below for the full AFC, NFC Championship Round schedule as well as additional information on how to watch each game.

Click here for the full 2023 NFL Playoffs Schedule

Conference Championship Round Schedule:

Sunday, January 29

NFC Championship Game:

San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles – 3:00 p.m. ET on Fox

  • Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

AFC Championship Game:

Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs – 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS

  • Where: Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri

RELATED: Brock Purdy, Jalen Hurts met in a 2019 college football classic


2023 Divisional Round Scores and Recap:

Jaguars (4) vs Chiefs (1)

Giants (6) vs Eagles (1)

Bengals (3) vs Bills (2

Cowboys (5) vs 49ers (2)


What 4 teams are in the NFL playoffs?

The San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, and Kansas City Chiefs.

Which teams have been eliminated from the 2023 NFL Playoffs?

The Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys have all been eliminated from the 2023 NFL playoffs.

RELATED: FMIA Divisional – Tales Of Outsmarting, Outplaying, And Outbuilding The Other Guys

NFL Super Bowl History:

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2023 NFL Playoffs, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

U.S. sweeps Uzbekistan, advances to group stage in Davis Cup

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The United States swept its way into the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals, getting the winning point in a 4-0 victory over Uzbekistan from the doubles team of Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek.

They beat Sergey Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev 6-2, 6-4, after Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald had won singles matches in Tashkent.

Ram is No. 3 in the ATP Tour doubles rankings and partnered with Joe Salisbury to win the last two U.S. Open men’s doubles titles. But the Americans opted not to use Ram last year in the final round, when they dropped the doubles match in a 2-1 defeat against Italy in the quarterfinals.

Krajicek was making his Davis Cup debut, having reached No. 9 in the doubles rankings late last year.

“They had five great days of preparation, and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. And after that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them,” interim captain David Nainkin said.

Denis Kudla then beat Amir Milushev 6-4, 6-4.

The winners of the 12 qualifiers being held this weekend advance to the Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.

Eight teams will advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

In other matches:

France 3, Hungary 2: On indoor hard courts in Tatabanya, Hungary, Ugo Humbert won it for the French with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Fabian Marozsan. Adrian Mannarino had forced the deciding match by beating Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Serbia 4, Norway 0: On indoor hard courts in Oslo, the visitors, playing without top-ranked Novak Djokovic, put away the match when Filip Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic edged Viktor Durasovic and Herman Hoeyeraal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Hamad Medjedovic then outlasted Durasovic 6-4, 6-7, 10-4.

Sweden 3, Bosnia 1: On indoor hard courts in Stockholm, Mikael Ymer sent the hosts through by beating Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

Lesia Tsurenko to face Zhu Lin in Thailand Open final

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine reached her first final in four years after the top-seeded Bianca Andreescu retired with a shoulder injury during their semifinal match at the Thailand Open.

Tsurenko, in search of her fifth WTA title, was leading the 2019 U.S. Open champion 7-5, 4-0 when the Canadian stopped playing.

The former world No. 23 fought from 3-5 down to take the first set and reeled off eight straight games before Andreescu retired with a right shoulder problem.

“Bianca is such an amazing player. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today,” said the 33-year-old Tsurenko, now ranked 136th. “But I was just fighting and I told myself positive things that I can do it. Unfortunately, she had to retire.”

The Ukrainian last lifted a WTA trophy in Acapulco in 2018 and hasn’t been to a final since Brisbane in 2019.

She will face Zhu Lin of China in the final.

“She had some good wins in the Australian Open,” Tsurenko said. “She is one of the dangerous players in this tournament. She is going to give a good fight.”

In the all-Chinese semifinal earlier, Zhu benefited from a barrage of unforced errors from Wang Xinyu and prevailed 6-2, 6-4 for her first WTA final.

The world No. 54 player, who reached the last 16 at the Australian Open in January, relied on her solid baseline game to force errors.

“It was very windy, so I tried to be patient and keep my first serves in,” said the 29-year-old Zhu, who will team up with Wang in the doubles final against Hao-Ching Chan and Fang-Hsien Wu of Taiwan.