News, Notes & Quotes - Feb. 28

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Tuesday February 28, 2017

- Nine schools open spring practice today: Auburn, Florida, Iowa State, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Stanford, Tulsa, Utah State and Wake Forest.

Several of these schools have big staff changes. Auburn has a new OC in Chip Lindsey, Florida has a new DC in the promoted Randy Shannon, Ole Miss has new coordinators on both sides, and UNC has a new defensive coordinator in the promoted John Papuchis. Will Jim McElwain get the Florida offense going? How will Ole Miss react in practice after the self-imposed bowl ban and latest NCAA investigation news?

Florida’s spring game is April 7. Auburn, ISU, Ole Miss, UNC, Tulsa, Utah State and Wake Forest have their spring games on April 8. Stanford’s spring game is April 15.

See all spring practice start dates here.

- Lane Kiffin says the SEC isn’t as strong as it used to be in part because Alabama is so far ahead of everyone else.

This past year, everyone except Alabama had at least four losses. Fox Sports’ Stewart Mandel wrote about the SEC’s (relative) decline, and Kiffin pointed to defensive line talent.

“(At Tennessee), every week when you went to game plan, there was a dominant, dynamic player in the front seven you had to game plan around. That’s very rare,” Kiffin said. “When I came back the second time, the first year, there were still good coaches and similar kind of players, though not quite as strong.

“(By 2016), it was clear that what Nick Saban was doing the previous three to four years, just dominating recruiting, had changed the conference.”

- Dan Mullen has another raise and extension.

Mississippi state laws only allow contracts up to four years long. Mullen’s last extension came in 2015. This latest four-year deal raises his salary from $4.2 million to $4.5 million.

Mullen’s name comes up for other jobs frequently — he was reportedly a finalist at Oregon. But as Mullen stays around, Mississippi State is still paying up for him. His .692 winning percentage is the highest for an MSU coach since Allyn McKeen from 1939-49.

"I am very thankful to the University and athletic administration for their belief in me," Mullen said in a release. "We have built a special program over the last eight years, creating a culture where winning is expected while achieving that in the toughest division in college football. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and I am truly excited about the direction we are heading as a program. This extension allows my family a long-term future here in Starkville, a place we are proud to call home." 

- What’s the biggest issue in recruiting right now? spoke with several high school coaches about their biggest concerns. Along with the regular topics like early visits, early signing and pulled offers, I found this quote from Houston Heights head coach Stephen Dixon to be notable.

“Not happy about the offering because others offer,” Dixon said. “Some get offers without coaches ever looking at film. Also, lower-tier Division I schools chase and offer all the kids who have Power Five offers and know they don't have a shot at them, but they offer and don't offer under-the-radar kids who deserve offers. Also, they tell kids to camp in the summer, then offer a kid who is not camping and not coming to that school.”

- Tom Herman poked a little jab at Florida State after flipping a Florida State commit.

No. 1-ranked athlete Justin Watkins flipped from FSU to Texas over the weekend, and Herman reacted with a tweet.

"#RevolUTion18 is off to a heckuva start with this playmaker's commitment. He's just the tip of the spear for a special class. #ThisIsTexas."

The NCAA now frowns upon tweets that reference players directly or indirectly with a nickname or hometown, so Herman got a little more creative. 

- Check out UConn going through winter workouts ahead of spring ball.

“The two biggest compliments someone can ever give me watching us play, ‘Your kids are physical, and they play hard.’ That’s it.”

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