News, Notes & Quotes - Jan. 3

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Tuesday January 03, 2017

- In the end, perhaps Lane Kiffin’s finish at Alabama came the way everyone expected — just not in this fashion.

A week before the national title game, Kiffin is out as offensive coordinator, deemed a “mutual” decision. It was clear Nick Saban wasn’t happy with the preparation for Washington. Here’s how Kiffin has left his previous four jobs.

- He was called a liar by Al Davis.

- There were small riots at Tennessee when he left for USC.

- He was dismissed on the LAX tarmac.

- He leaves Alabama one week before the national championship game.

At Alabama, he was out of the spotlight, as assistants are barred from the media. At FAU, he’ll be talking a lot, and the past few weeks have shown that, when handed a microphone, it’s hard for Kiffin not to make headlines.

- Six NFL head coaching jobs are open, but will there be more?

The Detroit Lions haven’t publicly committed to Jim Caldwell yet for 2017, which would be the last year of his contract. Caldwell has made the playoffs twice in two years, but a loss to the Seahawks next weekend would mean a 9-8 final record with four straight losses.

General manager Bob Quinn joined the Lions last year and opted to keep Caldwell when many thought a change would be made. The Lions are in the playoffs, but started 9-4 and couldn’t hold onto the division.

There’s also Sean Payton, who says he plans to coach for the Saints next year, but the Rams are interested, and the Saints could trade him.

- It’s clear John Elway wants a young head coach for the Broncos.

Instead of the Broncos promoting from within, Wade Phillips tweeted Monday, “Coaches life--unemployed to SB victory to unemployed in 3 years or less.”

Elway told reporters, “We’re still good on defense, and we’re going to remain good on defense. So we’re going to be in football games. And I will tell you this, we’re going to find a great, young head coach that’s going to want to be here and is going to come in and do a fabulous job in my opinion. So we’re going to be in good shape.’’

Here are the Broncos assistants who will be looking for work.

- P.J. Fleck hasn’t come to terms on an extension at Western Michigan yet, but he brushed aside questions about other jobs amid Minnesota chatter.

After Tracy Claeys supported the brief player boycott over a sexual assault investigation, there has been some backlash. Gopher AD Mark Coyle said last week he’d talk with Claeys about the future of the program. ESPN reports a resolution could come Tuesday. After losing in the Cotton Bowl, Fleck was asked what’s next for him.

“I’m going to Kalamazoo,” he said. “I don’t know where you’re going. I don’t know where everybody is going. I’m getting on the bus, unless they don’t want me on there. If 13-1 gets you fired around here. I love where I’m at Period. It’s as simple as that. We’re headed back to Kalamazoo.”

- Wisconsin quarterbacks went 13-for-14 passing for 178 yards and no turnovers against Western Michigan. After a difficult year at the position, it ended on a high note.

Freshman Alex Hornibrook came in and went 2-for-2 with a touchdown pass in the red zone.

“I thought they handled both playing, wanted to play them both, and did a nice job in the preparation,” Paul Chryst said. “And 14 attempts isn't a lot, but there were some key third downs in there. And I thought Alex came in and made a heck of a throw to (tight end Troy Fumagalli) in the red zone. …

"It was good to see Bart (Houston) finish his career here at Wisconsin the way that he did. I'm excited about the growth that Alex took this year and the steps he can take to go forward. He's got a lot of football ahead of him. And both were important to us all year long. And it was certainly that way today, too.”

- It wasn’t a top-level year for the Gators, but Jim McElwain doesn’t want to hear from the critics.

Florida beat Iowa 30-3 in the Outback Bowl to finish the year 9-4, and McElwain was asked what the win means for the program.

“We've got a lot of really good recruits that are excited to be Gators, and that's a good thing,” he said. “We had a heck of a year. Two straight SEC East championships, new facilities. We'll look for the commitment that we get from the administration moving forward, see where that's at, and I know this: We've got a lot of good young players that would have played a lot of football for us this year, and they'll teach the guys that are coming in next year the same thing.

"This was and still is a heck of a building process. We're headed to building it, but we're building it right.”

- Iowa has lost two straight bowls by a combined 75-19 score, but Kirk Ferentz doesn’t sound like changes are coming. The good will Ferentz built up with last season’s Rose Bowl run has turned back into fans calling for changes.

“We've played good teams,” Ferentz said of the bowl losses to Stanford and Florida. “That would be the first commonality I'd throw out there. I thought last year we did need to reevaluate and look at things, which we spent a lot of time on. I might feel differently a month from now or two months from now, but right now as I stand here, I feel like we had a good plan. I think we really practiced well. I thought our guys were ready to go, and I thought they played hard today. It wouldn't have mattered, effort necessarily as it was execution.”

Ferentz said last month that he expected offensive coordinator Greg Davis to return. The Hawkeyes averaged 24.9 points per game this year, near the bottom of the country.

“We'll take time and think about it and talk about it and all that kind of stuff, get feedback from our players, feedback from the staff,” Ferentz said when asked Monday about changes. “We'll talk to other people, too, but again, as I stand here today I feel really good about the way we went about things. I think we had a good plan and just came up short against a good football team today.”

- Check the scene in the Patriots locker room after betting the Dolphins.

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