Jake Spavital

A&M officially adds two to coaching staff


With three spots open on his Texas A&M coaching staff, Kevin Sumlin has officially filled two of those — with a third on its way to becoming official as well.

The two confirmed additions are Jake Spavital and Jeff Banks, the school announced Thursday.  The former will serve as co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach as previously reported, the latter as special teams coordinator/tight ends coach.

Spavital comes to the Aggies after spending the past two seasons as Dana Holgorsen‘s quarterbacks coach at West Virginia.  Holgorsen was Sumlin’s offensive coordinator at Houston in 2008-09, with Spavital serving on the same staff.

Kliff Kingsbury, who left his College Station post for the head coaching job at Texas Tech, had previously held the coordinator title as well as the quarterback duties.

“I know I have some big shoes to fill,” Spavital said. “I’m excited to be here, and I’m looking forward to the challenge of keeping this offense moving in the right direction. It’s been a smooth transition for me so far. I was with Clarence (McKinney) and B.J. (Anderson) when they were putting in the offense (at Houston) and I know Coach (David) Beatty from when he was at Rice, so I’m familiar with the staff.”

Banks will also be replacing a Sumlin assistant who was hired as a head coach this offseason; earlier this month, Brian Polian was tabbed as the successor to the legendary Chris Ault at Nevada.

Banks comes to the Aggies by way of UTEP and a (very) brief pit stop in Charlottesville.  Jan. 3, Virginia announced that Banks had been hired as Mike London‘s running backs coach/special teams coordinator.  Exactly a week later, UVa. announced that Banks had left to “to pursue another coaching position.”

Obviously, “another” involved a move from the ACC to the SEC for Banks.

“Texas A&M is one of the premier coaching stops in college football with Coach Sumlin and the SEC, which is the nation’s best conference,” Banks said. “Coach Polian did a great job with the special teams last year, and my goal will be to try to be even better.”

With that, the lone hole in Sumlin’s 2013 staff is at linebackers as Matt Wallerstedt followed Kingsbury to the Red Raiders as defensive coordinator.

While the school has yet to announce a hiring for that vacancy, Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson confirmed Thursday that Hoosiers defensive tackles coach Mark Hagen has accepted a job at A&M.

(Photo credit: West Virginia athletics)

Vols ‘very confident there was no inappropriate conduct’ between Butch Jones, player

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 11:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers watches the action during a game against the Chattanooga Mocs at Neyland Stadium on October 11, 2014 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”

Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.

At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August.  The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.

“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to GoVols247.com‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”

Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.

Michigan’s keeping ‘fingers crossed’ for leading rusher’s availability

De'Veon Smith
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Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5.  The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.

De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland.  Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.

“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”

Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.

Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).

In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well.  The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury