That whole thing about Western Michigan’s most productive player on the defensive side of the football leaving the program? Never mind.
In very late February, WMU announced that Robert Spillane (pictured) had asked for and been granted a release from his scholarship in order to transfer to another school. It was thought at the time that the linebacker could be following his former head coach, P.J. Fleck, to Minnesota; the Gophers subsequently self-reported a minor violation to the NCAA regarding Fleck’s contact with one of his unnamed former players.
Wednesday, Spillane’s transfer plans were reversed as Fleck’s replacement, Tim Lester, confirmed that the junior has rejoined the Broncos football team. His official return, it should be noted, had to be approved by the team’s leadership council, the team as a whole as well as the coaching staff — and it was unanimously given a thumbs-up by all involved.
“We’ve been texting throughout the whole process of when he was away,” the head coach said according to mlive.com. “I was hoping he was doing alright. He came in and I met with him and he told me he wanted to come back and join the guys and that he felt terrible about his time away.”
Last season, Spillane led the Broncos in tackles with 111 — next closest was Asantay Brown‘s 95 — while he was second in tackles for loss with 10.5 and tied for third in sacks with three. His three interceptions were tied for second as well. The last of those three picks came at the end of the MAC championship game that helped seal WMU’s win over Ohio.
The past three seasons, Spillane started 28 games for the Broncos. He started all 14 games last season.
No matter how good or bad your football team is nowadays, chances are high that your school is planning to upgrade football facilities in order to keep up with the burgeoning college athletics arms race.
Case in point lies in Lawrence, where Kansas is set to embark on a whopping $300 million renovation of Memorial Stadium that will also include an indoor practice facility. AD Sheahon Zenger disclosed the plans on Wednesday night while speaking at a booster function, according to the Kansas City Star.
“It will be something that will be just that next step in transcending our program to the next level,” Jayhawks head coach David Beaty reportedly said. “We really do have to keep up with the facility war that goes on out there.”
Memorial Stadium is one of the older stadiums in the Big 12, dating back to the 1921 opening of the site. While there have been a handful of updates in the past few years, there hasn’t really been much of a major renovation since 1998-99. Plans for the updated design and any additional features should be unveiled in September based on the timeline that Zenger disclosed.
No word on if Kansas is planning on adding any waterfalls to project just yet however.
The college athletics’ arms race of the past few decades has produced a number of unique designs when it comes to various stadiums and other football-centric facilities. Just about everybody is trying to hang their hat on something new and different to set themselves apart from the crowd and that ethos is seemingly creeping into just about every design element in any new building across the country.
Arkansas State appears to be the latest program to go in this direction and, based on new renderings of a north end zone project for Centennial Bank Stadium that were released on Thursday, the school is perfectly content to ignore TLC’s advice and start chasing actual waterfalls.
“This project will allow us to attract the top students in the country and provide first-class services to develop our students on and off the playing surfaces,” athletic director Terry Mohajir said in a statement on the school’s website for the project. “Additionally, we’ve created a unique feature to pay homage to the great state of Arkansas, the Natural State.”
This is far from the only water feature to be incorporated into a stadium in recent years (Jacksonville’s EverBank Field — home to the annual Florida-Georgia game — has a pool after all) but is a little bit outside the box for a smaller FBS school’s stadium. The two waterfalls are set to be placed on either side of the north end zone grandstand and include a new outdoor premium seating area as well. Also included in the project are a new weight room, a training/rehabilitation area, new football locker room, position meeting rooms, a players’ lounge, academic rooms and team-theater meeting area.
No cost breakdown or timeline were given but safe to say the former will involve millions of dollars and the latter will result in several years passing before the water is flowing in Jonesboro.
Bronco Mendenhall didn’t have to look far to find someone to fill the hole on his Virginia coaching staff.
The football program announced in a press release that Mendenhall has promoted Vic So’oto (pictured, No. 37) to defensive line coach. Last season, his first with the Cavaliers, So’oto, who played his college football for Mendenhall at BYU from 2005-10, served as a graduate assistant.
So’oto replaces Ruffin McNeill, who left Charlottesville earlier this month for a spot on Lincoln Riley‘s staff at Oklahoma.
“Vic was Ruffin’s understudy for the last year-and-a-half,” Mendenhall said in a statement. “He was my very first commitment at BYU when I became the head coach. He was a very good player for us and someone who has experience playing in the NFL.
“He’s very passionate. He is very knowledgeable about defensive football and our system. He knows the defensive line play in our system, inside and out. He’s a great teacher and fits perfectly and seamlessly into this position because he was taught and mentored by Ruff this past year. Our defensive front won’t miss a beat.”
Heading into the 2017 season, Kerry Coombs will have an additional title on his coaching résumé.
Ohio State announced Thursday that Coombs has been promoted to assistant coordinator, defense, by Urban Meyer. Coombs will retain his titles of special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach as well.
Greg Schiano will remain in his role as defensive coordinator.
“Kerry Coombs is absolutely deserving of this promotion to assistant coordinator, defense,” the head coach said in a statement. “He is an outstanding coach, instructor and mentor to the young men in this program. He is one of the best recruiters in the nation. He is incredibly loyal, and we at Ohio State are very fortunate that he loves this school and loves being a Buckeye.”
Coombs will be entering his sixth season with the Buckeyes, one of two assistants, the other being wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who have been with Meyer all five of his seasons in Columbus.
The past two years, three of Coombs’ corners — Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley in 2017, Eli Apple in 2016 — have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Another, Bradley Roby, was taken in the first round of the 2014 draft.