1. Dino Babers’ career, like many coaches, has been a study in resiliency. Bowling Green hired Babers, 52, away from FCS Eastern Illinois, where he went 26-7 in two years. In 2001, Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum awoke his sluggish offense by taking the coordinator job away from Babers and giving it to receivers coach Kevin Sumlin. “Kevin handled it well and Dino handled it well,” Slocum told me last spring. That may have set back Babers’ quest to be a head coach, but stints at UCLA and Baylor got him the shot at Eastern Illinois. All any coach wants is a chance.
2. The circumstances of Gus Malzahn taking over at Auburn after being the offensive coordinator from 2009-11 were unusual. But here’s what Malzahn said at a press conference Wednesday when he described putting together his staff: “The first thing we wanted to do was get men of character that were great examples for our players. That’s where we started.” Malzahn hired none of the guys with whom he coached on Gene Chizik’s staff. Maybe he just wanted a clean slate after Auburn went 3-9. I don’t think Malzahn meant the guys he worked with at Auburn his first go-round didn’t have character, but it struck me as odd.
3. The Marathon Oil Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award announced its finalists Wednesday: Malzahn, David Bailiff of Rice, Art Briles of Baylor, Mark Dantonio of Michigan State and David Shaw of Stanford. Neither Jimbo Fisher of No. 1 Florida State nor Nick Saban of No. 3 Alabama is on the list. Saban didn’t make any list. Coach of the Year awards deal in exceeding expectations more than achieving excellence. That isn’t news. But if that’s the case, how is David Cutcliffe of Duke not on this list?