College football notes: Nick Saban elusive about Alabama’s starting quarterback

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nick Saban is keeping Alabama’s quarterback situation shrouded in as much mystery as possible.

The second-ranked Crimson Tide’s coach said Monday that no decision has been made on whether Jake Coker or Blake Sims would start Saturday against West Virginia in Atlanta — or whether both would play.

Saban did employ a baseball analogy involving Yankees manager and friend Joe Girardi to indicate that the starter won’t be guaranteed of going the distance whatever the plan going into the game.

“I mean, Joe Girardi tells (Masahiro) Tanaka he’s starting in the game; he’s not telling him he’s going to pitch nine innings,” Saban said. “Does he tell them that or does he just pitch until he doesn’t pitch well anymore?”

Of course, the goal is not to need a bullpen as the season progresses.

Coker and Sims are vying to replace Heisman Trophy runner-up AJ McCarron, who went through a similar situation in 2011. McCarron started the opener against Kent State and alternated every few series with Phillip Sims.

Both were intercepted twice in the first game, but McCarron was awarded the starting job the next game against Penn State — and wound up helping the Tide win the next two national titles.

That’s the big question facing new Alabama quarterbacks these days: Can he lead the Tide to the title?

“Both of those guys are capable of leading us to the national championship,” fullback Jalston Fowler said. “We just have to support them and be behind them and make sure they’re confident and have that confidence every week no matter who is playing.”

Arkansas

QB ALLEN’S TRUCK FOUND ON FIRE: The misfortunes of Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen’s truck continue.

Police found his truck on fire early Monday and were investigating the incident as a potential case of arson.

Sgt. Craig Stout of the Fayetteville Police Department said Allen’s truck was one of three involved in a pair of car fires, though he said it was too early to say whether it was related to Allen’s position on the team.

Allen’s truck was egged following a loss to Mississippi State last season.

Kentucky

TWO PLAYERS SUSPENDED: Kentucky coach Mark Stoops announced the suspensions of senior offensive tackle Darrian Miller and junior receiver Rashad Cunningham for Saturday’s opener against Tennessee-Martin.

Miller, a 6-foot-5, 292-pounder who had started the past 24 games for the Wildcats, was disciplined for an unspecified violation of team rules. Stoops said Cunningham will sit but did not say what violation the receiver committed.

Southern California

CB SHAW HURT SAVING NEPHEW: Southern California senior cornerback Josh Shaw injured both ankles after leaping from a second-story balcony to save his 7-year-old nephew, Carter, from drowning in a pool.

Shaw was attending a family function at a cousin’s apartment in his hometown of Palmdale on Saturday when he saw his nephew, who can’t swim, struggling in the pool.

Shaw told USC’s website that he jumped from the balcony onto the concrete below and crawled to the pool, where he pulled Carter to safety. Unable to step out of the pool because of the pain in his ankles, Shaw lifted himself up the ladder with his upper body.

Shaw was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with two high ankle sprains and will be out indefinitely. He said Carter was traumatized but physically in good shape.

Around the nation

Newcomer Cody Sokol, a transfer from Iowa, won Louisiana Tech’s starting quarterback job over incumbent Ryan Higgins. ... Redshirt freshman Anu Solomon will be Arizona’s season-opening quarterback. ... Blake Bell won the starting tight end job for Oklahoma after switching from quarterback. ... Louisville senior receiver Devante Parker will miss six to eight weeks with a broken left small toe. ... West Virginia cornerback Ishmael Banks was suspended three games by the NCAA for an academic eligibility issue.