Lane Kiffin’s suspension of freshman running back Dillon Baxter for violating team rules has gained the admiration of his boss, Athletic Director Pat Haden. Considering Kiffin’s past of generally not following the rules combined with USC’s tumultuous summer, getting off on the right foot under the new administration has been important.
Haden takes over at USC with a no-nonsense mentality. The first order of business was to strip USC of everything Reggie Bush. Jerseys, Heismans, bobble heads and more. Gone.
So when Baxter’s summer started going “up in smoke” the pressure was on to make a statement early.
“Dillon’s a high-profile athlete, like we’ve had some other ones around here, and he wasn’t doing things he was supposed to be doing,” said Haden. Baxter will continue to practice with the team, even though he is suspended for the first game of 2010 against Hawaii.
Kiffin and USC needed to show they have turned a corner in their less than reputable past. In Kiffin’s case, however, that past might come back to haunt him. The NCAA is expected to make a trip out west to talk with the former Vols coach about potential recruiting violations while at Tennessee.
“It’s not good for the image, there’s no doubt about it, but we don’t know what’s going to come out of that,” Haden said in regards to a potential upcoming visit. “But these things seem to dog Lane, which is unfortunate because I do know that he’s gotten my message and I know he’s trying to do things right.”
It appears Keyshawn Johnson Jr. will continue his collegiate playing career a little bit further west than where it began.
On the same day that Kevin Sumlin was hired as the head coach at Arizona, Nate Clouse of Rivals.com reported that Johnson will be enrolling at UA this week and play for the Wildcats. The son of former USC great Keyshawn Johnson will be eligible to play immediately for Sumlin in 2018.
In late June of last year, Johnson was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Not long after, the wide receiver decided to take a leave of absence, with his famous father stating that his son needed some time to “mature” and would not play for the Cornhuskers in 2017.
At the time, the plan was for the junior Johnson to return to Lincoln and play his college football for Mike Riley. With his father’s college offensive coordinator dismissed at the end of the regular season, Johnson took to Twitter in mid-December to announce that he wouldn’t be returning to the Cornhuskers.
Johnson was a four-star member of the Cornhuskers’ 2017 recruiting class who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, but never played a down for NU. Before signing with Nebraska, he held offers from, among others, Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State and USC.
Roster attrition across college football continues unabated, with Minnesota the latest to lose one its football players.
Zo Craighton revealed on his Twitter account Monday that, “[a]fter prayers and considerations,” he has decided to transfer out of P.J. Fleck‘s football program. “There will always be a place in my heart for Minnesota,” the redshirt sophomore cornerback wrote in his social media missive. “I made friends for life and I appreciate the fan base for all the support.”
Craighton played in 11 games the past two seasons, missing the final nine of the 2017 season because of injury. Coming out of high school in Louisiana, the defensive back was a three-star member of the Gophers’ 2015 recruiting class.
Sean Lewis‘ first staff at Kent State will come armed with a famous coaching surname.
The football program announced Monday that Lewis has hired a total of six new assistants. One of the coaching sextet is Mackey MacPherson, the grandson of former Syracuse head coach Dick MacPherson.
The younger MacPherson will coach the Golden Flashes running backs after spending the past two seasons as an offensive graduate assistant with the Orange. Both Lewis and MacPherson were on Dino Babers‘ staff at the ‘Cuse.
The other full-time assistant hired by Lewis are as follows:
Zac Barton — special teams coordinator
Brian Cochran — defensive line
Jon Cooley — safeties coach
Matt Middleton — wide receivers coach
Bill O’Boyle — offensive line
Nearly two weeks ago, Lewis announced the hiring of his coordinators on both sides of the ball.
There’s a new leader in the clubhouse for “Early Entrant With the Most Vowels in his Surname.”
On his personal Twitter account over the weekend, Joel Iyiegbuniwe announced that he is leaving Western Kentucky early and making himself available for the April NFL draft. The linebacker, a native of Bowling Green, Kent., stated that he came to his decision “[a]fter much thought, prayer and discussion with my family, coaches and advisors.”
This past season, Iyiegbuniwe led the Hilltoppers in tackles with 117, tackles for loss with 11.5 and forced fumbles with three. He was named first-team All-Conference USA following the regular season.
Including last season, Iyiegbuniwe had started 27 straight games at outside linebacker for the Hilltoppers.
Today is the deadline for draft-eligible players to inform the NFL of their intentions.