News, Notes & Quotes - March 23

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday March 23, 2017

- Three schools open spring practice today: Rutgers, Washington State and Western Kentucky.

In addition, Hawaii’s spring game is Thursday night, in Nick Rolovich’s second season.

Rutgers has a new offensive coordinator in Jerry Kill, and WKU begins the Mike Sanford era. Their spring games are scheduled for April 22.

Keep track of all spring dates here.

- Clay Helton says new running backs coach Deland McCullough was a diamond in the rough addition, joining the Trojans from Indiana.

“We started doing our research on him, and you looked at a guy that, gosh almighty, what a great evaluator of talent, and how he developed talent,” Helton said. “You look at the running backs he’s had. The last three running backs he’s had have gone to the NFL have had successful careers, and he’s got a fourth getting ready to be drafted.

“To do that at a fine university like Indiana, to be able to have guys that are Pac-12 players of the year at their position (here), that’s special. We thought we had a gem, a diamond in the rough. A lot of us didn’t come from the biggest name places, but really good coaches. His recruiting skills, his evaluation skills, his developmental skills showed. We brought him in for an interview, and he just blew us away, how first-class he is, how he builds relationships, how he recruits and how he develops. Had a really good coach in Tommie Robinson, and we replace him with a really good coach in Deland.”

- Lane Kiffin isn’t running the FAU offense, and it’s been an adjustment as spring camp opened. Offensive coordinator Kendal Briles has that role.

“That’s really kind of the difference this time from the other head coaching jobs is not running the offense,” Kiffin told reporters. “This is the first time I’ve ever been in practice I haven’t called the plays the whole time, as the head coach or as an assistant.”

That meant more time walking around, chatting with players and looking at all aspects of the team.

“That was strange, but that’s done on purpose so I can leave offense and I can go defense and special teams and have a better grasp on everything,” Kiffin said.

- As for Kendal Briles, FAU’s president says the school vetted him and didn’t find any specific issues related to any role in the Baylor sexual assault scandal.

“We didn’t find anything that we would be concerned about at that time,” John Kelly told the Sun-Sentinel.

Asked about Briles’ name appearing in a lawsuit, Kelly said “Until somebody comes up with some legal proof of something, we have nothing to work on. It’s a media story at this moment.”

- Roger Goodell is looking at shortening NFL games with potential new play clock and commercial rules. Teams will vote on possible changes next week.

“Regarding game timing, we’re going to institute a play clock following the extra point when television does not take a break, and we’re considering instituting a play clock after a touchdown,” Goodell wrote in an open letter. “We’re also going to standardize the starting of the clock after a runner goes out-of-bounds, and standardize halftime lengths in all games, so we return to the action as quickly as possible.”

If they pass, could those changes make their way to college in the future? Goodell is also looking at changing the No. 1 thing all NFL TV viewers hate: a score, followed by a commercial break, followed by a kickoff, followed by a commercial break. They may be fewer breaks, but they’d be longer.

“Together with our broadcast partners, we will be working to meaningfully reduce down time and the frequency of commercial breaks in our game,” Goodell wrote. “We will also be giving our broadcast partners increased flexibility to avoid untimely breaks in the action. For example, we know how annoying it is when we come back from a commercial break, kick off, and then cut to a commercial again. I hate that too. Our goal is to eliminate it.”

- Check out UTSA doing their “bird cage” drill in spring practice.

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