News, Notes & Quotes - Oct. 27

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday October 27, 2016

- Dabo Swinney says his call to Purdue interim head coach Gerad Parker actually came after the latter sent Swinney a text last Friday. With Clemson off, Swinney watched Purdue's game and talked to Parker on Monday.

“I've never met him, but certainly kindred spirits, if you will. He's by trade a receiver coach, and we had a great conversation,” Swinney said. “Just really tried to give him some insight into my experience here and some of the things that I felt like were necessary and some of the things that you've got to do to give yourself a chance, and to also tell him to enjoy the moment. …

“It's a difficult situation, and hopefully they can finish strong, find a way to win some games, but more importantly, one of the things I talked to him about was don't focus on the scoreboard, don't focus on the results. Just you've got to change how they think, how they play and you've got to get them to buy into something that's bigger than the scoreboard.

“Especially those guys that are on their way out of there, and try to sow some good seeds and build a foundation for what it's going to look like eight years from now or seven years from now, regardless of whether he's the coach there or somebody else is in there. Make the most of this opportunity and feel good about it once you get done.”

- Nick Saban sees a slight difference in the LSU offense, but he knows the talent hasn’t changed. It’s about execution.

A year ago, LSU had 182 total yards against the Tide, and Leonard Fournette had 31 yards on 19 carries. This year, the Tigers have scored at least 38 points in three straight, and Fournette had 284 yards against Ole Miss.

“They have a really good play-action pass game that goes with them and some really good skill guys that can make big plays, and the quarterback has done a nice job for them,” Saban said. “This is a very challenging team based on the balance that they create and what they do and they probably play a little more two tights and two wides, which is a good thing for them because it features the players that they have.

“We see some subtle differences in what they’re doing. I think the thing about it is, their execution has been really good. That’s usually what makes the difference.”

- Coming off a 66-point, 854-yard performance, Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley knows how quickly things can change.

Riley said this week he recounts a situation from 2009.

“I always tell the guys, years back at Texas Tech, we played Kansas State in Lubbock and beat them bad. The very next week, Kansas State plays A&M, and they beat the hell out of A&M. We played A&M the next week, and logic says we should beat them by 100, and they blew us out of the stadium. There’s a lot of examples like that. It’s one game at a time. This is a whole new animal.”

The Sooners host Kansas this week. Riley gets the point across, but don’t expect a Jayhawk blowout victory.

- How has Northwestern turned this season around? Pat Fitzgerald had to change how the Wildcats practiced, but he needed the leadership to buy in.

Northwestern started 1-3 with a 9-7 loss to Illinois State. But they’ve won at Iowa, at Michigan State and against Indiana in the last three weeks.

“We came out of camp beat up. I’m not trying to make excuses. We didn’t have all cylinders firing, and it showed,” Fitzgerald said on SiriusXM College Sports Nation. “I sat down with our leadership council and said, ‘We’ve got to find a way to get this fixed. The only way is if we embrace the grind and almost have an offseason winter workout mentality in practice. I haven’t had to do this in a while.’

“Sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures. ‘The only way this is going to work is if you’re my pied pipers in the locker room. When we go hard, you’ve got to come with me. Maybe some guys ask, ‘Why are we going so hard?’ You have to give the answer. It’s to win.’ Our upperclassmen have done a great job. We’re playing young guys, got some puppies out there.We’re just trying to get them of the porch.”

- A safety due to a high snap on a punt led to two points for Ohio State last week, but it also exemplified what James Franklin wants out of his Penn State specialists.

The ball was at the 30-yard line, but flew into the end zone. Punter Blake Gillikin was able to rush back and get to the ball for a safety, instead of a TD.

“We don't believe in recruiting kickers. We believe in recruiting athletes who happen to kick and that's what he is,” Franklin said. “He's been in competitive environments his entire life. Basketball player, soccer player, all these different things. And I thought he handled that really well.

“You could make a decision there to either fall on the ball and scoop it up or kick it out the back of the end zone, and I thought he showed great poise and athleticism to go get that ball. … I know he was disappointed in how that play went, but overall he's been as consistent as anybody. That was big, giving up two points instead of a touchdown.”

- As coaching salaries and bonuses increase, schools have taken out bonus insurance.

As noted by USA Today, Clemson has spent $272,000 for coverage to cap the school’s exposure on bonuses at $2 million. Last year, the school paid $2.3 million in bonuses, including $1.1 million to Dabo Swinney.

“As salaries have increased, bonuses have increased as well,” Risk Points Consulting president Michael Wright said. “It seems like a lot of schools do not budget for bonuses — they just address them as they can, whether it’s out of an equipment contract or the expectation of increased money off their success.”

If Clemson reaches the national championship this year, it would save the school $500,000. If they win it, the school saves $1.2 million.

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