Baylor’s Dave Aranda gets contract extension through 2028 season

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

WACO, Texas — Baylor coach Dave Aranda has agreed to a contract extension through the 2028 season after leading the Bears to a Big 12 championship and a school-record 12 wins capped by a Sugar Bowl victory on New Year’s Day and a No. 5 ranking in the final AP Top 25 poll.

The school announced the extension two months after athletic director Mack Rhoades had said there was a verbal agreement to amend the contract of the coach who at that time was being mentioned for several head coach openings. The private school does not disclose specific contract terms.

Aranda is 14-9 in his two seasons at Baylor, where he is a head coach for the first time. The 45-year-old Aranda was coming off an undefeated national championship as LSU’s defensive coordinator when he got a six-year contract in January 2020 after Matt Rhule left the Bears to become coach of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

“My family and I are truly appreciative of the tremendous support we have received from Mack, President (Linda) Livingstone and the entire Waco community,” Aranda said. “I look forward to continuing the work we’ve started on and off the field in the years to come.”

Baylor went 2-7 in Aranda’s altered and shortened debut season. He wasn’t even able to have spring practices with his new team after taking the job because of the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bears were much improved on defense and had new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes in 2021. They made it to the Big 12 title game for the second time in three seasons, winning 21-16 after safety Jairon McVea knocked Oklahoma State running back Dezmon Jackson out of bounds just inches short of the end zone pylon on his desperate, fourth-down dive.

Baylor’s only other Big 12 titles came in 2013 and 2014 under coach Art Briles, who was fired in May 2016 after the revelation of a sprawling sexual assault scandal. A lingering NCAA investigation related to that case was finally resolved last August, just before the season.

While there were no players or coaches remaining from Briles’ tenure, Baylor was placed on four years of probation while still able to play in postgame games. Aranda and his staff had to deal with a reduction of 30 official visits and a three-week ban on unofficial visits during recruiting this academic year.

Aranda was named the AP Big 12 coach of the year even before Baylor beat Ole Miss 21-7 in the Sugar Bowl and finished with its highest ranking ever in a season-ending AP Top 25 poll. The Bears’ 12-2 record included five wins over ranked teams, a single-season school record.

“Dave has brought unprecedented success to our football program both on and off the field. He has brought tremendous national exposure and acclaim to our institution and the greater Waco community,” Rhoades said. “Dave is, without question, one of the most brilliant minds in college football across the country.”

When he left LSU, Aranda was the highest-paid college assistant at $2.5 million a season, and had been a Power Five defensive coordinator for seven seasons. He was at Wisconsin from 2013-15 before spending four years at LSU. He began his college coaching career in the Big 12 as a graduate assistant at Texas Tech from 1999-2001.

Livingstone said Baylor is “extremely pleased” to make a long-term commitment Aranda after one of the most successful seasons in school history.

“We believe he has our football program and our student-athletes poised for ongoing development and sustained success,” Livingstone said. “We appreciate how Coach Aranda represents Baylor, and his sincere commitment to our Christian mission and our student-athletes is evident in all that he does.”

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.