News, Notes & Quotes - Jan. 16

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday January 16, 2017

- Nick Saban will have a new athletic director.

Alabama AD Bill Battle will retire and Arizona’s Greg Byrne will take over, per multiple reports. Byrne is very popular in the AD world and is one of the most media-friendly in the country. That last point is a complete 180 from what Alabama had. Byrne hired Dan Mullen at Mississippi State and Rich Rodriguez at Arizona.

Alabama also secured Byrne while Tennessee and Texas are also looking for an athletic director. That tells you how good this job is and how organized Alabama is. One reason Saban has been so consistent at the top level is he’s been given everything he needs. From top to bottom, there is organizational synergy.

Byrne is only 45 years old, meaning it’s very likely he’ll be tasked with hiring Saban’s replacement when that day comes. Whenever that happens, it’ll be one of the biggest stories in modern college football history. No pressure.

- Sonny Dykes is finally back in Texas.

He interviewed for and was interested in jobs back in his home state while he was still Cal head coach, upsetting the school. Now that he’s out of work, he’s reportedly joining TCU in an undetermined role.

It’s unlikely to be a full-time coaching job unless something else opens. After struggling offensively at times last season, Gary Patterson said he might change the offense again. Doug Meacham is now at Kansas, and current TCU OC Cumbie played at Texas Tech when Dykes was an assistant coach there.

- Why did the Rams hire a 30-year-old as an NFL head coach? They viewed “young” as just one of many characteristics for Sean McVay.

“The terms you saw were brilliant, genius, star. Jon Gruden said yesterday, ‘special,’” Rams executive VP of football operations Kevin Demoff said. “Those are amazing adjectives when you talk about describing someone. And when you ask people for the negatives, they always said, ‘Well, he’s young.’ I think we always looked at that as just another descriptive word.

“To me, the age in this factor, when you look at what they players said, this is about leading players. Their devotion to Sean, the way they feel, what you read about him, is to us what negated the age factor.”

Demoff added, “The final checkpoint for me was when Sean came back on Tuesday night, and he had dinner with myself and Marshall Faulk. It was listening to him and Marshall banter back and forth about football. And what they had to say, and looking at each other, and watching them walk away and Marshall saying, ‘That person can absolutely be your next head coach,’ that it was not just about the age of the players he was with. It was about earning the respect of people who are very smart people in the NFL.”

- Mark Banker spent more than two decades with Mike Riley, but his dismissal as Nebraska defensive coordinator was a complete shock to him, too, and it came over a phone call while Banker was out getting ready to recruit.

"I had to find out from Mike, after working together for 20 years, over the phone," Banker told the Lincoln Journal Star. "He called me on my cellphone as I was in an airport headed to Tulsa, Oklahoma. You work together for so long ... I know it's difficult to tell somebody you're not going to renew their contract, but if that's what you're going to do, you do it like men do it. You do it face-to-face and say it's not going to work out.

"It would have been a lot better than having to hear it on the phone from a guy you've known for 20 years. That was just disappointing for me to find out like that. I know it was tough for Mike. But we're two grown-ass men."

- Gene Stallings isn’t surprised by Dabo Swinney’s success, because Swinney knew what the job of an assistant coach was, and he did it.

Swinney played at Alabama under Stallings and joined the staff as a GA, moving up to a full-time assistant.

“It’s the assistant coach’s job to please the head coach, not the head coach’s job to please the assistants. Dabo did everything he could to please me when I was in charge,” Stallings said on SiriusXM College Sports Nation. “What a great job he did. He could communicate with the players. He was knowledgeable, he was enthusiastic. That was the kind of guy I wanted on my staff.”

- Indiana State has been without a head coach for weeks, but there’s still recruiting to be done.

The Terre Haute Tribune Star reports they’ve only lost one commitment since Mike Sanford left to join his son on the Western Kentucky staff.

The remaining staff includes defensive coordinator Brian Cabral, running backs coach Jayden Everett, defensive line coach Shannon Jackson, linebackers coach Aaron Archie, wide receivers coach Mike Perish and director of football operations Andrew Foster.

As for possible head coaching candidates, the paper lists Florida Tech head coach Steve Englehart, Wyoming defensive backs coach Curt Mallory, Notre Dame running backs coach Autry Denson and NC State tight ends coach Eddie Faulkner.

- Watch Dan Quinn’s locker room speech to the Falcons after advancing to the NFC Championship Game.

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