News, Notes & Quotes - March 24

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Friday March 24, 2017

- Two schools open spring practice today, and there are three spring games this weekend.

Michigan and Idaho begin spring ball, while BYU, Kent State and Vanderbilt wrap up spring with scrimmages. The Wolverines have a new quarterbacks coach in Pep Hamilton, while Idaho has several new assistants, coming off a 9-4 season.

Keep track of spring dates here.

- The Bills and Seahawks have proposed a rule change to allow coaches to challenge all penalties.

Coaches would still be limited in the number of challenges, but anything, from pass interference to false start to holding could be reviewed. It's very unlikely to pass, and it could open up a can of worms, but the Seahawks and Bills put it out there.

“That is a significant change to our current replay rule and it is something that will be on the floor and will be debated and voted on next week,” head of officiating Dean Blandino told reporters, per PFT.

- Jimbo Fisher can tell when a player has the natural ability to field punts, and he sees it in early-enroll freshman running back Cam Akers

“You can catch underneath and not be able to catch a punt. It’s like guys who can field ground balls, but can’t field flyballs,” Fisher said Thursday. “It’s like being an outfielder, judging things. He does a good job of that.

“You either square under it or are struggling like crazy. Them guys hit a flyball, you watch them (struggle to get under it), diving for it. He’s very natural at it.”

- What does Mark Richt look for in a QB?

“I try to teach in a very systematic way,” he said earlier this week. “I want guys to drop a certain way, I want them to ball-fake a certain way, I want them to progress a certain way. I try to give them a systematic way of thinking that will give them the right answer the majority of the time. Then you create habits, every day. It’s about making decisions and creating habits. If you start making up your own stuff on me, you’re not going to play.

“I’m not turning these guys into robots, but if it’s a one-high deal, you’ve got to read one side of the field and you’d better go over there. Two-high read, and that side of the field’s your read, you’d better be over there and go No. 1, No. 2, No. 3. I need to see your head and eyes doing that. I need to see your brain processing that. If they can’t do that, they’ll have a hard time playing.”

- New Iowa wide receivers coach Kelton Copeland shared some strong advice for his receivers on beating press coverage.

“This is football, right? We’ve got pads on, correct? Is this a friendly game? Hell no. This is a collision game, correct? So we can be violent with our hands. That’s the objective. Be violent. You want to press me? You’re going to pay for it. When I said, ‘Break his wrist,’ I don’t mean literally, but try with everything in your might to break his wrist off him. Make him think about wanting to press me again. That’s got to be our mentality.”

- A basketball coach backed out of the UMass head coaching job less than an hour before he was set to be introduced.

Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey was hired to the UMass job on Tuesday, with the press conference scheduled for Thursday. But shortly before the presser, the school announced it was canceled, and Kelsey decided to stay at Winthrop.

"UMass is an amazing program with a winning tradition and a bright future that any coach would be proud to be a part of," Kelsey said in a release. "But after further reflection, I have decided to remain at Winthrop.  I realized that at this point in my career Winthrop and Rock Hill is the best place for my family and me."

It’s worth adding that Kelsey’s UMass contract had a $1 million buyout if he left for another job, and it’s unclear if there will be anything with that.

- Check out new Houston offensive coordinator Brian Johnson mic’d up at 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