Friday's college football: Saban, Alabama agree to raise, extension

Associated Press
Alabama coach Nick Saban's average annual pay will be $9.3 million if he sticks around for the duration of the new deal.

Montgomery, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban still reigns supreme over college football  in national titles and annual pay.

The university announced a new eight-year deal Friday worth at least $74.4 million, which would appear to make Saban again college football’s highest-paid coach based on annual salary.

The agreement runs through the 2025 season, boosting his average annual pay to $9.3 million if he sticks around for the duration.

“Our family is thrilled to agree to a contract extension with the University of Alabama that will keep us in Tuscaloosa for the rest of our coaching career,” Saban said in a statement.

Saban gets a one-year extension with a sizable raise for the 66-year-old coach, who has led the Crimson Tide to five national championships over the past nine seasons.

Ohio State’s Urban Meyer is set to make at least $7.6 million this season. Texas A&M gave Jimbo Fisher a 10-year, $75 million deal. Both Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Georgia’s Kirby Smart are scheduled to make $7 million annually under seven-year deals, and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh also pulls in $7 million a year. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney falls just shy of that mark under his new deal .

Saban and fellow Alabama icon Bear Bryant are the only major college football coaches to win six national titles, including Saban’s 2003 BCS crown at LSU. Alabama is 125-14 over the past decade with five Southeastern Conference championships.

“We are so fortunate to have the best football coach in the country here at Alabama in coach Saban, and we are very pleased that he has agreed to another contract extension,” athletic director Greg Byrne said. “What this program has accomplished under him over the past decade is truly remarkable, and it goes well beyond the five national championships.

“There is obviously a very high expectation to succeed on the field; however, that expectation carries over into the classroom and the community, and it has shown in the number of graduates and hours of community service performed.”

Saban’s salary will increase to $7.5 million this season and go up by another $400,000 in each subsequent year. He also gets an $800,000 signing incentive this year and would receive the same amount for completing each of the next three seasons  2019, 2020 and 2021.

He had received an eight-year deal worth at least $65 million in May 2017.

Then Saban claimed his fifth title with the Crimson Tide in January with a come-from-behind overtime win over Georgia, thanks to a halftime quarterback switch that paid off.

Saban was set to make at least $11.125 million last year, counting a $4 million signing bonus and a $400,000 completion bonus.

The new deal would put him up to $10.3 million in the final year.

Ex-Volunteers acquitted in rape trial

Two former University of Tennessee football players were acquitted of the aggravated rape charges they had been indicted on nearly 3.5 years ago.

A jury of seven women and five men deliberated for over an hour before finding A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams not guilty on all counts.

“We prayed, trusted in God,” Johnson said afterward. “I just knew God was going to take care of it.”

Johnson, 26, embraced friends and relatives as soon as the jury departed. The 25-year-old Williams gave a big hug to his lawyer, David Eldridge. The woman who said both men raped her left the courtroom as the not-guilty verdicts for Johnson were announced and before the jury foreman had even read the decision on Williams.

“I am so grateful to the jury for their work and their service to our community, and I’m grateful for their seeing the truth, (that) Michael Williams is not guilty and has never been guilty of this crime,” Eldridge said. “He’s looking forward to moving on with his life.”

Johnson and Williams were indicted on February 2015 after a woman said both men raped her during a party at Johnson’s apartment in the early morning hours of Nov. 16, 2014. Johnson and Williams were suspended from the team less than 48 hours after the party and never played for Tennessee again. Johnson had been a star linebacker, while Williams was a part-time starter in the secondary.

Extra points

Tennessee plans to honor its 1998 national championship team Sept. 22 when the Volunteers host Florida.

Players, coaches and support staff members from the 1998 team will be in Knoxville that weekend for a reunion honoring the 20th anniversary of the title-winning season. The 1998 team was coached by Phillip Fulmer, who took over as Tennessee’s athletic director in December.

... Florida added former West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler to its roster as a graduate transfer.

Shuler will be allowed to play immediately and has two years of eligibility remaining. He had 37 tackles, including eight for losses, and three sacks in 12 games with the Mountaineers last season.

... Florida freshman Justin Watkins said he is leaving school three days after he was charged with hitting and strangling his girlfriend.

Watkins said on Twitter he “will be leaving the university of Florida to better my opportunities.”

... Six Florida football players, including top receiver Tyrie Cleveland and highly touted freshman quarterback Emory Jones, are facing university disciplinary action following an on-campus altercation that included the brandishing of Airsoft guns that resembled assault rifles.

Cleveland, Jones, receiver Kadarius Toney, defensive tackle Kyree Campbell, receiver Rick Wells and tight end Kemore Gamble were not charged following a University Police Department investigation. Officers referred the matter to the school’s Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution department.