News, Notes & Quotes - Feb. 10

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Friday February 10, 2017

- Steve Sarkisian studied the Falcons as an Alabama analyst, as part of a program project watching pro teams.

He didn’t have many direct ties with Dan Quinn before becoming the new offensive coordinator, but between that, visiting the Falcons in the summer and both being former Pete Carroll assistants, it was there. There’s a report Sark and Nick Saban had philosophical differences, but Sark said Saban understood the move.

"He was really good. He was understanding," Sarkisian told reporters Thursday. "Obviously, he would have loved for me to stay, but he was understanding. I know Coach Saban and the University of Alabama, they're in a good place. They'll hire a really good coordinator, and they're still going to win a lot of games."

Sarkisian also said he continues to go through treatment for alcoholism, after his substance-abuse led to his dismissal at USC.

“Everybody has issues that they have to deal with — some physical, some mental,” Sarkisian told ESPN. “This happens to be an issue of mine that I work on daily. That is important to me so I can be the best person I can be, the best father I can be, the best coach I can be. And I’m diligent in that.”

- Gene Chizik is stepping away from coaching, after mulling over the decision for a while.

After his dismissal as Auburn head coach, Chizik spent two years with his family. He only decided to join North Carolinas as defensive coordinator because it worked with his family. Now he’s getting out of the game on his own terms. The 55-year-old Chizik won national titles as a Texas assistant in 2005 and Auburn head coach in 2010.

“The past two years at the University of North Carolina and the opportunity to work with Coach Fedora have been a blessing, and I'm extremely proud of the success we enjoyed," Chizik said in a release. "I have always told my players family should come before football, and it's time for me to follow my own advice.

“I look forward to watching my own son play the game I've dedicated my life and career to for the next two years, and I look forward to the simple joys of being a father and husband I've missed out on."

- North Texas' staff has been poached by several Power 5 schools this offseason.

To fill Chizik’s spot, North Carolina is hiring UNT defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler, and Kentucky will also hire UNT defensive line coach Derrick LeBlanc, per sources. This comes after offensive line coach Brad Davis went to Florida.

It’s a sign that you put together a good staff when that happens. Littrell took over a 1-11 program and went 5-8 in his first season. He will promote co-defensive coordinator / safeties coach Troy Reffett to defensive coordinator, and there are openings on the offensive and defensive line jobs.

- Tom Herman plans as much as $10 million in smaller updates to Texas facilities.

Herman is looking for more wall graphics and other amenities to get closer to the Alabamas, Clemsons and Michigans in terms of branding inside the program.

“We changed the University of Houston in 23 short months more than anybody thought was possible,” Herman told ESPN, “not just from a wins and losses standpoint, but from an infrastructure standpoint as well. I have no doubt that with the support of President Greg Fenves and Mike Perrin, we’ll do the same here in very, very, very short time.”

- Luther Campbell has given a big stamp of approval to recent Florida staff changes.

Jim McElwain added West Virginia’s JaJuan Seider and former FAU/USF assistant Corey Bell. Along with Randy Shannon, the Florida staff now has some huge ties to south Florida. Campbell, the rapper, Miami Hurricane fan and local high school coach, said it’s a big deal.

“With those three right there, they have an all-star team now,” Campbell told the AJC. “The commitment Florida has in hiring all those guys, that shows you they want players from South Florida.

“You know me, I’m a die-hard Miami fan. But we might not have a chance to get the top players now. That’s how serious that crew will be at Florida. It’s a crazy all-star team.”

- Here’s a look at Miami winter workouts.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to