Some in CFP will face their former faculties


MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Michigan defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald went to highschool in Georgia. He is a College of Georgia graduate. He as soon as labored on the employees at Georgia beneath Mark Richt as a graduate assistant.

Cincinnati operating again Jerome Ford spent two seasons carrying the ball for Alabama, scoring three touchdowns and honing his craft beneath coach Nick Saban.

And now they get to attempt to beat their previous faculties.

There are many ties that bind for all 4 groups going into the Faculty Soccer Playoff semifinals Friday, and those that includes Macdonald and Ford is perhaps the perfect of the bunch. Macdonald will look to decelerate Georgia – his alma mater – within the Orange Bowl. Ford is Cincinnati’s prime rusher, set to play towards Alabama on the Cotton Bowl.

”I am trying down right here on the microphone and it says Orange Bowl,” Macdonald stated whereas assembly with reporters nearly on Tuesday morning. ”And it is form of laborious to imagine that we’re right here.”

Oh, in his case, that is true on a whole lot of ranges.

Let’s begin at first: He performed highschool soccer in Roswell, Georgia, for a person named Xarvia Smith. The respect was mutual, and when Macdonald was 21 and within the honors program on his technique to a enterprise diploma from Georgia, Smith acquired a job at one other highschool. He supplied Macdonald an opportunity to be defensive coordinator for the freshman group. Six shutouts later by that group, Macdonald was promoted to the varsity teaching employees – juggling that together with his senior 12 months of faculty.

”I had some nice relationships with a few of these gamers nonetheless to at the present time,” Macdonald stated. ”Clearly, Coach Smith is a mentor of mine. We had been simply texting really most likely a day or two in the past. That was an amazing reminiscence, man.”

He isn’t the one Michigan man with deep Georgia ties. Defensive lineman Chris Hinton is considered one of seven Wolverines who checklist Georgia as their dwelling state, and Hinton practically signed with the Bulldogs.

”I grew up with a whole lot of these guys over there at UGA, simply rising up or by way of the recruiting course of or by way of basketball, so it should be enjoyable going towards some acquainted faces,” Hinton stated. ”They recruited me laborious and had been actually my second faculty. That is actually my second faculty, my second choice. It will be actually enjoyable going towards these guys. I am excited for the sport.”

And Hinton provides Macdonald loads of credit score for getting Michigan to this second.

”I feel he does an amazing job of placing individuals in nice positions to make performs, and he does an amazing job simply regarding his gamers,” Hinton stated. ”We perceive what he is pondering, he understands what we’re pondering, and we’re capable of bounce off of that, bounce concepts off of that, and I feel that is paid dividends to our success this 12 months. I imply, we love Coach Mac.”

Ford helped carry Cincinnati to this stage, turning into one of many nation’s breakout stars in 2021 and – as luck would have it – getting the possibility to face a program he is aware of lots about within the semifinals.

Ford carried the ball 31 occasions in two seasons for Saban and the Crimson Tide. However he is grown fatigued of being labeled ”the Alabama switch.”

”I am grateful for all the pieces Coach Saban did for me and the chance to play at Alabama,” stated Ford, who has rushed for 1,242 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. ”However I am a Bearcat, and I might form of recognize it if individuals stopped calling me `the Alabama switch.’ I’m a Cincinnati Bearcat. However like I stated, I am grateful for all the pieces Coach Saban did for me and the chance to play at Alabama round all the good coaches and different nice gamers.”

Going through his former group is perhaps an attention-grabbing plot twist, however Ford has an opportunity to assist Cincinnati get to the nationwide title sport. That is all of the motivation he says he wants.

”I am actual motivated to play,” Ford stated. ”There’s no person or nothing the group that we’re enjoying might do to presumably add any motivation. I really feel like I am very intrinsically motivated, and all the pieces I’ve comes from inside.”

Honest sufficient.

As is the case with Ford, there is no query about the place Macdonald’s loyalty lies this week.

After his stint at Cedar Shoals, Macdonald grew to become a grad assistant at Georgia. This was earlier than iPads and tablets; playbooks had been really nonetheless books again then, and Macdonald was a part of the group assembling them.

”I bear in mind simply having a very tough relationship with the printer,” he stated.

Workplace equipment points however, Macdonald grew to become additional satisfied that teaching was his calling. Richt moved him as much as defensive high quality management coach for 3 years, earlier than Macdonald determined in 2013 that it was time to place his enterprise diploma to make use of. He accepted a suggestion to work at KPMG, alongside the identical time that John Harbaugh – the brother of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh – was searching for interns with the Baltimore Ravens.

The KPMG transfer by no means occurred. Macdonald spent seven years with the Ravens, acquired employed at Michigan this previous January and the remainder is historical past.

”Simply extraordinarily lucky,” Macdonald stated. ”Discuss simply luck of the draw. Man, am I blessed that that occurred, so in any other case we would not be sitting right here.”

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