Arizona hires Patriots assistant Fisch as head coach

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Jedd Fisch was a law student wanting a chance to witness history when he followed O.J. Simpson’s lawyers into the courthouse elevator. After being confronted, he made a good enough case to earn a seat for the trial of the century.

When Fisch wanted a chance to serve as a graduate assistant coach under Steve Spurrier, he left notes on the windshield of the Florida coach’s car for 450 straight days. He got the job.

That type of ingenuity and tenacity helped Fisch earn high-level jobs across the NFL and college football, working for coaches like Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan and Pete Carroll.

Now Fisch gets a chance to run his own team. Not bad for a coach who never even played the game in high school.

Arizona hired Fisch on Wednesday, hoping the former New England Patriots quarterbacks coach can turn around a program that fell into disarray during three years under Kevin Sumlin.

“I first met Jedd Fisch three years ago and I was immediately struck by his desire and his drive,” university President Robert C. Robbins said. “His story of rising in the football coaching world without having played a down of football was certainly unique, but also told me something about his determination and drive.”

A New Jersey native, Fisch didn’t play football in high school or college, but he landed a job as a graduate assistant at Florida with his note-leaving campaign on Spurrier’s car.

The calculated ploy sent the now-44-year-old on a journey across college football and the NFL.

Fisch was hired as New England’s quarterbacks coach under Belichick earlier this year after two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams as senior offensive assistant and assistant offensive coordinator. He previously served as offensive coordinator at Jacksonville and served as an assistant with Seattle, Denver, Baltimore and Houston.

Fisch spent the 2017 season as UCLA’s offensive coordinator and served as interim coach the final two games after Jim Mora was fired. He also was the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks/wide receivers coach under Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and had offensive coordinator stints with Miami and Minnesota.

“I’ve followed his career closely over the years and he is highly qualified for the job,” Carroll said. “Jedd is a gifted offensive mind and he will do a great job leading and caring for the University of Arizona program.”

Fisch interviewed for the Arizona job in 2017 when Sumlin was hired. The disappointment turned into opportunity, allowing Fisch a chance to work under Belichick and Rams coach Sean McVay, adding to the list of coaches he’s learned from.

“I’ve had some incredible opportunities to learn and I didn’t want to pass up those opportunities,” Fisch said. “If this head coaching job was to arise, I was going to be ready and the most prepared I possibly could be.”

He takes over an Arizona program that’s fallen on hard times.

The Wildcats never really got on track under Sumlin, winning five games in his first season then watching the win total drop each subsequent season.

Arizona ended the 2019 season on a seven-game losing streak and went 0-5 this year, capped by allowing the most points in the 121-year history of the Territorial Cup in a 70-7 loss to rival Arizona State. Sumlin was fired the next day after going 9-20 in three seasons.

The program had a rash of transfers before the 2020 season, including four defensive starters. More players entered the transfer portal after the season ended, including starting quarterback Grant Gunnell.

Arizona managed to sign an 18-player recruiting during the early signing period despite Sumlin’s firing, but it was ranked 65th nationally by the 247 Sports composite.

“Jedd Fisch is the head football coach because he’s the right man at the right time to rebuild this program back to prominence, a proud program,” Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke said.

Fisch will earn $1.8 million annually his first two seasons, with raises to $2.3 million in 2025. He also will receive $500,000 annually for speaking engagements and community events and $200,000 with Nike. He will get an additional $100,000 annually with IMG for a radio show and other appearances.

Alabama suspends freshman defensive back after drug arrest

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama freshman defensive back Tony Mitchell has been suspended from the team following his arrest on a drug charge.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Monday after the first practice of spring that Mitchell was suspended from the team “and all team activities until we gather more information about the situation and what his legal circumstance is.”

The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrested Mitchell and another man, Christophere Lewis, last week on a charge of possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page. Lewis also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.

“Everybody’s got an opportunity to make choices and decisions,” Saban said. “There’s no such thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You’ve gotta be responsible for who you’re with, who you’re around and what you do, who you associate yourself with and the situations that you put yourself in. It is what it is, but there is cause and effect when you make choices and decisions that put you in bad situations.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a five-star prospect rated the 34th-best player and No. 3 safety in the 247Composite rankings.

Mitchell was driving the vehicle during a traffic stop. After deputies smelled marijuana, Mitchell picked up a baggie of marijuana from the passenger floorboard, according to the department’s Facebook post.

Sheriff’s deputies found “an additional significant amount of marijuana, a set of scales, a loaded handgun between the passenger seat and center console, and a large amount of cash,” according to the department’s Facebook post.

Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey suspended after arrest

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey was suspended from the team after he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the team said.

The 23-year-old, who was a team captain last season, was booked at about 2:45 a.m. and released after posting $500 bond, according to online records from the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

“We are aware of the situation involving Chad Bailey,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s been suspended according to Department of Athletics policy. We have high expectations for all of our student-athletes, on and off the field, and we will follow all departmental and campus policies.”

Bailey was Mizzou’s third-leading tackler with 57 stops last season. He started all 11 games he played, missing two with an injury. He’ll be a sixth-year senior this fall after opting to return for his final year of eligibility, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The Missouri student-athlete handbook says any athlete who is arrested must serve a minimum one-week suspension.

Bailey was pulled over at about 1 a.m. not far from the Columbia campus for an expired license plate and lane violation, a police statement said. Bailey told the officer he had consumed alcohol and then performed poorly on a field sobriety test, the Post-Dispatch reported.