For a brief moment, let’s forget about the nonsense revolving around whether or not Michigan will be or should be allowed to send its spring football practices down south over spring break. Instead, let’s take a look at the actual spring game. Michigan announced Friday morning its annual spring game will be played on Friday night, April 1, in Michigan Stadium. The exact start time has yet to be announced, but this being Michigan in the Jim Harbaugh era we should expect this to be a headlining event on the spring game schedule. Anything less would be a disappointment at this stage, right?
Michigan’s spring game, which will be aired by Big Ten Network, moving to Friday night puts the Wolverines in their own timeslot on the spring game calendar. Not that spring games generally battle for TV ratings the way actual games will in the fall, but Michigan is now the only program slated to play on that evening (per FBSchedules.com), although the Wolverines would have been the biggest name playing a spring game on the following day (the next biggest name would have been TCU). We will have to wait and see how Michigan handles this spring game and how much of a big deal they make out of it as well, but if the signing day event was any indication it would seem to be Michigan is in “go big or go home” mode with promoting the football program. With Big Ten Network setting up shop for the game, odds are Michigan will have some nice plans up their sleeves for the primetime event, which is free for all fans.
Last year’s spring game in Ann Arbor drew a school-record crowd of an estimated 60,000 fans. The hiring of Harbaugh generated quite the spark and renewal of enthusiasm surrounding the program and that was proven by the large turnout for the spring game. Michigan traditionally has not been a huge spring game draw the way others in the Big Ten (Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State) or SEC (Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee) routinely are. Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio made it a point to encourage fans to show up in big numbers for the Spartans’ spring game last year as well, knowing that a big turnout and help keep interest high in the spring as well. Michigan State did turn in a respectable number of fans for its spring game too, with 48,000 showing up.
For what it is worth, the release from Michigan also confirmed Michigan plans to hold its first spring football practice in Bradenton, Florida on February 29.
Unlike how his 2017 season ended, Greg Dortch‘s 2018 offseason is trending much more positively.
In Wake Forest’s late-October win over Louisville, Dortch went down with what turned out to be a season-ending abdominal injury. Four months after sustaining the injury, and with spring practice right around the corner, the wide receiver has been medically cleared to fully participate in practice.
Despite missing the last month of the regular season as well as the postseason, Dortch still led the Demon Deacons in receiving yards with 722. His 53 receptions and nine receiving touchdowns were tied for tops on the team as well.
In the game in which he was injured, he set the school record with four touchdown catches.
When it came to filling out his Purdue coaching staff, Jeff Brohm didn’t have to look very far.
Kevin Wolthausen, the football program confirmed in a release, has been hired as the 10th of Brohm’s allotted 10 Boilermakers assistant coaches. Per the school, Wolthausen will be working with the team’s special teams and defense.
This marks a positional homecoming of sorts for Wolthausen as he spent the 2012 season as the defensive line coach at Purdue. Last season, Wolthausen served as a quality control coach for both special teams and defense for the Boilermakers.
In between his two stints in West Lafayette, Wolthausen was the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach at UConn in 2016; the two years prior, he was the Huskies’ defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.
In 2013, Wolthausen was the special teams coordinator at Florida International. The 60-year-old long-time college football assistant has also spent time on staffs at Louisville, Arizona, USC, Arizona State and Oklahoma.
For the most recent addition to his Troy coaching staff, Neal Brown has dipped into the Football Championship Series.
The Sun Belt Conference program confirmed Tuesday that Brandon Hall has been hired by Brown as his new linebackers coach. Hall had spent the past four seasons as the co-defensive coordinator at FCS Jacksonville State.
“Brandon is an outstanding defensive coach and has experience coaching at a lot of different levels,” a statement from Brown. “He is relentless on the recruiting trail and already has developed strong relationships in the areas that we believe are key. Looking at his track record, it comes as no surprise that Brandon helped build one of the top defenses in the FCS at Jacksonville State over the last four years.”
Prior to JSU, Hall had spent time at Arkansas State, Auburn and Oklahoma.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to join this program and coaching staff,” Hall said in his statement. “You can’t help but get excited as a coach when you look at what Coach Brown and the rest of this staff has done over the past three years with the Troy program. My family and I are looking forward to becoming part of the Trojan Family and continuing the strong tradition of Troy football.”
The departure of a longtime UCLA staffer has officially been confirmed.
Late last week, reports surfaced that Angus McClure was leaving UCLA for a position at Nevada. Tuesday, the Mountain West Conference football program confirmed that McClure has been hired as Jay Norvell‘s new offensive line coach.
McClure had been with the Bruins since 2007, serving at various times as position coach for both sides of UCLA’s lines as well as special teams. Most recently, McClure had served as recruiting coordinator for the Pac-12 school.
McClure and Norvell have a prior working relationship as they were both on the same staffs at Nebraska and UCLA.
In addition to McClure, David Lockwood was announced as Nevada’s new safeties coach. Lockwood was on the UNLV staff last season after spending the previous three years as the cornerbacks coach at Arizona.
“I think we made our staff stronger with these two veteran hires,” Norvell said in a statement. “I’m excited about the experience and expertise that we have added to the Wolf Pack coaching staff.”