Alabama athletic director Bill Battle had little to say Wednesday about the status of football coach Nick Saban, who reportedly is pondering a new deal offered Friday while speculation has Texas hoping to lure Saban if Mack Brown departs as expected.
"He's working his butt off on recruiting. We're focused on recruiting and playing Oklahoma," Battle said. "The Sugar Bowl is where his efforts are and that's where mine are."
Brown visited Plant High linebacker and Texas commit Andrew Beck at his home Wednesday and told Beck that reports of his resignation are false.
"He was very up-front with me," Beck said. "He said, 'I haven't changed anything, and if anything does change, you'll know far before the media does.' It was definitely a reassurance."
Bush support: Alabama kicker Cade Foster received a supportive note from President George W. Bush. Foster missed two field goals and had a third blocked in a loss to Auburn. Bush wrote:
"Dear Cade ((hash)43),
"Life has its setbacks. I know!
"However you will be a stronger human with time.
"I wish you all the best —
Bush was the 43rd president, and Foster wears No. 43.
Coaching hires: Arkansas State coach Bryan Harsin was hired to replace Chris Petersen as Boise State coach. Harsin, 37, was a Broncos assistant from 2001-10 and quarterback from 1995-99. … Drake coach Chris Creighton, 44, was named Eastern Michigan coach. Drake promoted assistant Rick Fox to replace Creighton. … UConn reportedly hired Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, 40, as coach.
Awards: Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins won the Mackey Award as the top tight end, beating out FSU's Nick O'Leary and North Carolina's Eric Ebron. … Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald won the Lombardi Award as the top lineman, beating out Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, Missouri defensive end Michael Sam and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr.
Mississippi State: Quarterback Tyler Russell will miss the Dec. 31 Liberty Bowl after having surgery to fix a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. The senior's college career is over.
Malzahn honored: SEC coaches voted Auburn's Gus Malzahn coach of the year, and picked Auburn tailback Tre Mason as the top offensive player. Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Missouri defensive end Michael Sam shared the defensive award. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, a former Plant High standout, was named scholar-athlete of the year.
UT named D-II events host: The NCAA named Tampa the host institution for four Division II championships: women's volleyball (2015), outdoor track and field (2016-17) and women's lacrosse (2018). Volleyball and lacrosse will be held at on-campus facilities. Track and field will be held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. Saint Leo hosts the D-II men's and women's cross country championships in 2016.
No. 1 ranked Tampa plays six-time defending national champion and No. 3 Concordia-St. Paul at 6 tonight in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Spartans (32-1) lost to Concordia 3-1 on Sept. 14.
In other news, Tampa sophomore Berkley Whaley (Lakewood High) was named Division II first-team All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Spartans teammates Holly Reschke made second team and Marissa Lisenbee (Seminole) third team. Tampa's Meagan Burke was honorable mention, along with Eckerd's Lindsay Biggs.