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.
As the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Lamar Jackson is the unquestioned starter under center for Louisville heading toward the 2017 season. Now, Jackson’s backup is on the move.
Following the Cardinals’ spring game this past weekend, Kyle Bolin confirmed that he will be transferring from the U of L’s football program. After earning his degree next month, the quarterback will be leaving Bobby Petrino‘s team as a graduate transfer and eligible immediately at another FBS program.
As to a potential landing spot? Northern Illinois is one as this was tweeted Monday evening…
… while Bolin retweeted the following tweet around the same time:
NIU, though, won’t be the only program looking to add an experienced signal-caller. In fact, Texas, Cincinnati and Western Michigan have already spoken to Bolin, as confirmed by the player himself.
Bolin started five games in 2015 as he and Jackson shared quarterbacking duties that season. Jackson replaced Bolin after a pair of picks in the regular-season finale against rival Kentucky that year and, coming off his four-touchdown performance in the Music City Bowl win over Texas A&M, the former was firmly entrenched as the starter heading into the spring of 2016.
It appears one member of the Purdue football program has avoided what could’ve been a fatal catastrophe.
According to the West Lafayette Journal & Courier, Boilermaker defensive back Andy Chelf was the victim of an off-campus shooting early Sunday morning. Police do not believe that the wound was self-inflicted, and that “there is a shooter” involved.
From the newspaper’s report:
Police found… Chelf, 20, about 3 a.m. Sunday in the 200 block of Wiggins Street with a single gunshot wound in his torso, West Lafayette Police Department Capt. David Van Vactor said.
The safety was transported to a local hospital, although it’s unclear if he remains hospitalized or in what condition. On his personal Twitter account Sunday afternoon, however, Chelf intimated that he’s OK.
No arrests have been made in connection to what’s an ongoing investigation.
“First and foremost, we are thankful that Andy is on the road to recovery, and we are appreciative of the hospital staff,” a statement from the school read. “Our Office of the Dean of Students, as it does in any such case, has been in touch with Andy and his family to offer its assistance. A number of our coaches and players spent Sunday at the hospital. We certainly will do whatever we can to assist the West Lafayette Police Department in its investigation of the incident.”
A three-star 2015 recruit, Chelf has yet to play a down for the Boilermakers, missing one full season because of a torn ACL. He’s expected to compete for playing time in 2017.
The financial score between P.J. Fleck and his former employer has officially been settled.
According to mlive.com, Fleck, athletic director Kathy Beauregard confirmed to the website, has satisfied the $600,000 obligation owed to Western Michigan. Fleck owed the money as a buyout after leaving as WMU’s head football coach for the same job at Minnesota in early January.
The news comes nearly a month to the day that WMU announced that Fleck would be taking his “Row the Boat” mantra with him to Minnesota. In return for the rights to the very personal saying, Fleck will make an annual payment of $10,000 over the next five years, with the $50,000 being used to support a scholarship for a WMU football player.
In his four years at WMU, Fleck guided the Broncos to a 30-22 record. The 2016 season launched Fleck to national prominence as he guided the Broncos to a perfect 13-0 regular season that included a MAC championship. That earned WMU the Group of Five’s New year’s Six berth, although the perfect season and Cinderella story was spoiled by Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl.
Fleck takes over a program in Minneapolis that went 9-4 last season.
A situation involving a player who left P.J. Fleck‘s former football program is causing some consternation for the head coach’s current one.
In very late February, Western Michigan 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 rumored that the starting linebacker could join his former coach, Fleck, in Minnesota; it was further rumored that Fleck had been actively recruiting Spillane and other Bronco football players, the former before he had been given a release.
On Twitter, Spillane attempted to brush aside the suggestions that his move from Kalamazoo had anything to do with his former coach.
In a seemingly related matter, both the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press are reporting that the university will self-report to the NCAA what it’s describing as a “minor” violation involving contact with one of his former players. The former player was not identified by name.
Any contact between a coach and a player on scholarship at another university is strictly prohibited.
From the Pioneer Press:
From my understanding, even if a coach sends a former student-athlete a text that even says ‘happy birthday,’ that’s a violation,” [athletic director Mark] Coyle said.
Coyle said he has spoken to Broncos athletics director Kathy Beauregard “and reassured her we are not recruiting students from Western Michigan.
The Gophers opened their first spring practice session under Fleck on Tuesday.