For Duke, spring has sprung

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(As I’m typing this, The Great American Race is being delayed — for a second time — by a pothole in the middle of the track.  Yeah, that’s exactly what NASCAR needs right now, and there will be no jokes made at their expense.  As an aside, I believe my township’s road crew has been assigned to Daytona track maintenance this year.)

It may be more than a month before winter actually turns into spring, but it hasn’t stopped at least one school from getting an early jump on the annual rite known as spring practice.

And by “an early jump”, we mean today.  As in, they started spring practice in the middle of February.

Whatever the reasoning, and regardless of whatever head-scratching comes from it, Duke is the first Div. 1-A school to officially commence their spring practice.  Again, in the middle of February.

Anyway, here’s the official release from the school chronicling the Blue Devils’ first day of spring practice.  In the middle of February.

DURHAM, N.C. – With an uncharacteristic mid-February start, the Duke football team opened spring drills on Sunday afternoon with a two-hour session in shorts and helmets at the Brooks Practice Facility.

“I was really, really thrilled with our enthusiasm, energy and body demeanor,” Cutcliffe said following the workout. “You could tell they really wanted to be out here.”

With Thaddeus Lewis lost to graduation and Sean Renfree sidelined while recovering from knee surgery, Duke is operating with two first-year quarterbacks in Sean Schroeder and January enrollee Brandon Connette. In addition to Connette, running back Josh Snead and tight end Cooper Helfet joined the Duke program for the spring semester.

“The two young quarterbacks managed practice well,” Cutcliffe noted. “I was proud of all three of our new additions. I thought that Connette, Snead and Helfet all contributed to make it a better practice.”

The Blue Devils were not fazed by the early beginning to spring practice, which saw temperatures in the low 40s on Sunday afternoon.

“It was good to get out here,” Schroeder said. “It was a good first practice. We have a lot of areas to improve on, but it was a good first day.”

Duke’s annual Spring Game is set for Saturday, March 27 at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Baylor strength coach apparently no longer with the program

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It seems every bit of news related to Baylor football nowadays has to do with the school’s on-going sexual assault scandal but it appears there is one bit of information coming out of the program that doesn’t have something to do with that.

A school spokesperson told ESPN on Friday that football strength coach Kaz Kazadi has been “reassigned to a role outside the athletic performance staff.” A report from the local ESPN Radio affiliate in Waco indicates that the move will eventually have the coach leaving the school altogether.

Kazadi spent nearly a decade with the Bears and played a big role in the team’s on-field turnaround under the former coaching staff. Several former players took to Twitter on Friday to express their shock over the loss of one of the cornerstones of the team in recent years.

After the hire of Matt Rhule this offseason, it isn’t too surprising to see some turnover among those staff members connected to the previous regime. Baylor’s new head coach brought most of his strength staff with him from Temple so it was probably only a matter of time before Kazadi moved on, though the timing of the quasi-announcement (the Bears started spring football last weekend) is somewhat interesting.

Either way, it appears Baylor will have a new direction in the weight room going forward.

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh has ditched his Dockers for another

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Peanut butter and jelly. Milk and cookies. Batman and Robin. Maize and blue. Jim Harbaugh and khakis.

All are iconic combinations, but it appears the latter is undergoing a few changes right now.

The Michigan head coach’s affinity for a pair of khakis has been so strong over the years that it’s become almost comical how much he likes the style of pant. Heck, he even got a commercial out of it a few years ago when he specifically started getting outfitted with Dockers brand khakis.

Despite being a paid endorser though, it appears that Harbaugh has dropped the famous Levi’s brand version of khakis to attack the day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind in another pair of pants.

Not only is the switch from Dockers to Lululemon result in a lot more comfort for the Wolverines coach, it’s probably a bit more of a hit to the ol’ wallet than dropping by Walmart for a pair of khakis off the shelf. It probably doesn’t make a huge difference for Harbaugh though given that he’s the highest paid coach in the country but it might result in a few more trips to the mall.

Either way, what it does mean is that now we demand a new commercial featuring Harbaugh and khakis. After all, if you’re upping the clothing game, you’ve got to up the ad game as well.

Former Penn State president found guilty of role in Sandusky scandal

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Former Penn State president Graham Spanier’s day in court has come and has resulted in a guilty verdict.

The Centre Daily Times is among the outlets reporting that a jury has found Spanier guilty of one count of endangering the welfare of children in a trial related to his role in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. In addition, Spanier was found not guilty on two other counts, one a similar child endangerment charge and the other a count of criminal conspiracy.

The verdict comes after lengthy deliberations by the jury in the case, which took a turn last week when former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz plead guilty to child endangerment charges as part of the same trial. All three figure to be sentenced in the next few months.

Prior to the scandal, Spanier was widely considered to be one of the most respected college presidents in the country and heavily involved in NCAA matters. However he was one of several key figures fired by the school as a result of covering up the actions of Sandusky, the Nittany Lions’ former defensive coordinator who was found guilty on 45 charges of sexually abusing minors.

While the verdict is likely to be appealed, Spanier is nevertheless facing the prospect of joining Sandusky behind bars as a result of his own involvement in the scandal.

Dad of RB Kingston Davis says son will transfer from Michigan

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Michigan’s the latest football program to see its roster hit with the annual spring personnel attrition.

The father of Kingston Davis confirmed to Sam Webb of Scout.com that his son informed UM officials earlier Friday of his intention to transfer from the Wolverines.  Apparently there were two reasons that triggered the running back’s decision: a crowded backfield and chatter that he would be changing positions.

While 2016 leading rusher De'Veon Smith is gone, the Wolverines’ second-, third- and fourth-leading rushers from last season — rising sophomore Chris Evans (614 yards), rising junior Karan Higdon (425), rising fifth-year senior Ty Isaac (417) — all return. Kareem Walker, a four-star 2016 recruit rated as the No. 4 running back in the country, sat out last season because of academics but should be a part of the rotation as a redshirt freshman. They also added four-star (O'Maury Samuels) and three-star (Kurt Taylor) backs as part of their 2017 recruiting class.

A three-star 2016 recruit, Davis was rated as the No. 1 fullback in the country in that year’s class. As a true freshman, the 6-1, 245-pound back carried the ball twice for 17 yards.