News, Notes & Quotes - Jan. 26

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday January 26, 2017

- What makes Cubs manager Joe Maddon so good? His ability to connect with players of all ages and buck some old school traditions.

Cubs CM Theo Epstein explained on The Axe Files podcast: “What makes Joe unique is he has a incredible knack, at 62, for connecting with players 40 years his junior. Instantly putting them at ease, communicating to them not just by telling him, but through his actions, that all they have to do is be themselves and have fun and prioritize winning, and they’ll be accepted. That’s really hard.

“It sounds simple, but in baseball, it’s noteworthy, because there had been this sensibility in baseball where young players, when they came up, were to be seen and not heard, where they had to almost go through a hazing of sorts from the veterans, cut their teeth for many years before they could let their personality out at all, and to be heard in the clubhouse. Joe deconstructed that sensibility and said, no, it doesn’t matter how experienced you are, it doesn’t matter how old you are, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in this game. All that matters is that you are genuine and you’re yourself, we have fun together and play hard together.”

- Dabo Swinney is going over the top in campaigning for Deshaun Watson to be the first pick in the draft.

Last week, he ripped scouts and people who gave Watson a second-round grade. At the Senior Bowl, Dabo went even further.

"If they pass on Deshaun Watson, they are passing on Michael Jordan," he said. "I'm just telling you. I don't know what the heck I'm talking about, I'm just an old funky college coach. Deshaun Watson is the best by a long shot."

- Asked how he thinks Lane Kiffin will do at FAU, Nick Saban didn’t give the loudest of endorsements.

“That's not really for me to say,” Saban said at the Senior Bowl. “Lane has an opportunity to be a head coach again, and he certainly did a good job for us in the time that he was with us. We're hopeful that he has great success there."

- UCF is going to add end zone cabana seating.

The first year of the Scott Forst era was a success on the field and on the business side.

"We had a waiting list for suites, and we sold out of club seats and that led us to do a new club area last year," associate AD Andy Seeley told ESPN. "But there was future interest from our market in more premium space, so we created more."

- Notre Dame appears to have plans for a 10th assistant coach addition.

Earlier this week, the Irish announced former QB Tommy Rees as quarterbacks coach. It’s actually a graduate assistant position, but it’s expected he’ll be promoted to full-time if the 10th assistant coach passes, which it’s expected to in April.

At this point in the year, or even if the official hiring gets delayed to the summer, it’s likely most schools will promote from within or hire coaches out of work. Rees spent 2016 as an offensive assistant with the Chargers but was let go with their staff change. Now he’s back in South Bend, potentially to be a full-time coach soon.

- Tom Izzo is defending his team against upset fans after three straight losses.

Never one to hold back criticism of his own team, Izzo doesn’t want to hear it from anyone else when he says he knows what really goes on.

“I don’t care about the fan base,” Izzo said after a loss to Purdue this week. “If people want to complain, I don’t care. I really don’t. I know what I’m doing, I know what this team is doing, I know what they’re going through. I know what they’re going through. Nobody knows what they’re going through because nobody’s had to do it. I’ve been here before, too. Been here before, and got to the tournament.”

- Take an inside look at Cincinnati’s winder conditioning.

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