News, Notes & Quotes - Jan. 6

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Friday January 06, 2017

- Before last week’s Belk Bowl, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long described his expectations for the program.

Bret Bielema’s Arkansas program had improved every year before this 7-5 season. Then they blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl to Virginia Tech. But beforehand, Long said the future is bright, and season like this are the low end.

“When the pieces come together, you go from 8-5 to 10-2, because you’ve got a quality program. That’s going to happen for us,’ he said on SportsTalk with Bo Mattingly.. “It may be 12-0, who knows? When you have a quality program, you can expect years where you pop up.

“What you’re seeing here at 7-5 is the bottom line baseline. From here, we’re going to go up. That’s the way I see it. People can argue about that, or disagree, I get it, but I know this: I’ve got a quality football coach who cares about this university, cares about the program, wants to be here, and the players love him.”

- Tom Herman says he hasn’t been told “no” yet from Texas administration, and that means a lot of catching up in off-field staffing and amenities. 

“I think more is always good, to a certain point,” Herman said Thursday. “If Alabama has it, if Clemson has it, if Ohio State and Michigan have it, then we’re gonna have it. That’s the reality of college football, and until they tell us that we can’t, we’re going to.”

Herman has his full-time coaching staff in place. He’s in the process of hiring graphics specialists and more. Herman says Texas isn’t far behind in facilities, but there needs to be an aesthetic facelift.

“My job is to tell (president Greg) Fenves and (AD) Mike Perrin what we need to compete at a championship level,” Herman said. “Obviously, the graphics in the hallways, we need to modernize a lot of that. We need to modernize our locker room. That’s the place where our kids spend a big portion of their time, and then we need to update the weight room and reconfigure it a little bit. Those are kind of areas A, B and C and we’re full steam ahead on all of those.”

- Steve Sarkisian has a big vote of confidence from receiver Calvin Ridley, who expects more from the outside players.

"He's doing a really great job with us so far and I feel like we're going a lot faster and everything is going smoother," Ridley told ESPN. "We're getting ready to go out there and show what the new offense is going to be about."

Given the fact Nick Saban wanted more running last week, it’s hard to imagine they’ll come out with Jalen Hurts throwing, and Sark produced a 1,000-yard rusher every year at Washington. Plus, Clemson’s pass defense ranked higher than its rush defense. But Sark and Kiffin run the same offense, so the transition has been smooth.

- Kyle Shanahan has gone from scapegoat to hot head coaching candidate.

The Falcons offensive coordinator was criticized for results with the Redskins and Browns. Now Matt Ryan might be the MVP, and Shanahan is interviewing for several head coaching jobs. The son of Mike Shanahan told the AJC he handles it better now.

“I’ve been in this league a while so I’ve had a lot of highs and lows,” Kyle Shanahan said. “It affected me a lot more when I was younger. When you invest a lot into it, you don’t want to hear anything negative. Even when it’s great, you don’t want to let it affect you because it’s that much worse when it’s bad. You start to realize you don’t do it for that stuff, you do it because you really enjoy it, the team, the guys, the schematics of football.”

He learned what comes with the job when he was with the Redskins from 2010-13.

“That’s when I lost my innocence in the league a little bit,” he said. “I had to go through that stuff. I realized if I wanted to live very long or enjoy my life, I better learn to deal with this, and if I can’t I should get out. The older you get the more scars you get.”

- Take a behind-the-scenes look at Miami’s Russell Athletic Bowl win over West Virginia.

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