News, Notes & Quotes - Feb. 17

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Friday February 17, 2017

- Jim Harbaugh took at shot at Paul Finebaum on Thursday night, and he wasn’t subtle.

The coach tweeted, “Pete Finebaum, the unabashed SEC water carrier, really needs to get his facts straight. #AlternativeFacts.”

So what exactly set this off? Finebaum has long trolled the Michigan fanbase, but Harbaugh hired Michael Johnson, a high school coach in California who is the father of a top 2019 QB prospect. Johnson is a former NFL assistant (and coached Harbaugh with the Chargers), and could be Michigan’s 10th assistant, but Finebaum went on Outside The Lines on Wednesday and didn’t hold back.

“He’s an evil genius,” Finebaum said, per MLive. “I think he’s one of the smartest people I’ve run into in a long time. Most of what he’s done is just that: Genius … but this is wrong. It may not be illegal by NCAA standards and bylaws as of this moment, but to me, it’s cheating. It’s blatantly disregarding the spirit of the NCAA rule. We all know why he’s doing it. This is the same person who, last year, accused Nick Saban of cheating and Hugh Freeze of cheating.

“I know he won’t be penalized for it, but he’s cheating. Why don’t we just face up to it? There’s no other reason why he would hire this man. It’s been done in the past. But it’s still wrong. I don’t know why the media celebrates Jim Harbaugh and doing things that are, in my mind, unethical.”

You can’t blame Harbaugh for firing back, but it wouldn’t be a proper college football offseason without Harbaugh causing a storm. (UPDATE: Johnson is now set to join Oregon as wide receivers coach).

- There is some key pushback against the proposed delay of a 10th assistant coach.

CoachingSearch broke the news Tuesday that the MAC proposed delaying the implementation of a 10th assistant coach (if it passes), to January, instead of immediately in April, citing timing and budget issues. But Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby says it’s not worth waiting

"(The committee has) talked about it at length. Tell me if you think it's less disruptive if it's Aug. 1, Dec. 1 or Jan. 15?" Bowlsby told The Associated Press. "There's going to be disruption no matter when it goes into effect."

The vote on the amendment and then the 10th assistant proposal comes on April 14.

- Liberty is moving up from FCS to FBS… but with a twist.

Normally, teams only move up when they get a conference invitation (like Coastal Carolina next year). But Liberty submitted a waiver to move into the two-year FBS reclassification without it, and it was approved based on the school “demonstrating its readiness.”

Liberty will be an FBS independent in 2018 and become eligible for the postseason in 2019. It’s a big step for the program under Turner Gill, who is 35-25 in five years. It also shines the spotlight back on Ian McCaw, the Liberty AD who was the Baylor AD when the sexual assault scandal came to light.

"This university aspired to compete at the highest levels of NCAA competition and began working toward that dream and vision from the day of its founding in 1971,” president Jerry Falwell said. “We are deeply grateful to NCAA leadership and staff for considering this request and for acknowledging Liberty's readiness and the appropriateness of Liberty now moving to FBS football status as an independent.”

- Tim Polasek left the North Dakota State offensive coordinator job to be Iowa’s offensive line coach — without any offensive line experience.

But Kirk Ferentz an offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz bring plenty.

“I see it as an opportunity to learn and grow from several guys upstairs that really understand the position,” Polasek said. “I've always been of the mindset that I'm going to try to create uncomfortable situations for the players, so why would that be any different for a coach that's trying to move forward and do great things?

“Super excited about the offensive line. I know I haven't coached it before. But three years ago I wasn't an offensive coordinator either. So we'll just keep meeting these challenges head on.”

- Hugh Freeze has hired his second defensive line coach of the offseason.

After Chris Kiffin left to become the FAU defensive coordinator, Freeze hired Tray Scott from North Carolina. But then Tray Scott left for Georgia, and Freeze released a pretty terse statement about hiring coaches who will be committed to Ole Miss.

That’s Freddie Roach. The Alabama director of player development for the last two years, Roach previously coached defensive ends and outside linebackers at South Alabama.

“Freddie brings instant credibility to our defensive line room,” Freeze said in a statement. “His coaching skills and passion for the game make a him a great fit for our staff. As a highly successful player and coach, Freddie has been a part of championship programs, and we look forward to having his experience on our team.”

- Take a tour of the construction on Minnesota’s new athletic village with P.J. Fleck.

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