A number of coaches have had their opinions on an early signing period put on record in recent weeks, many of which have come from the land of the SEC. Penn State head coach James Franklin has been keeping tabs on what his former SEC coaching rivals have been saying, and he is now on record of being in favor of the idea if set up properly.
“There’s been a lot of discussion in the last league I was in and a lot of discussions in this league as well,” Franklin said this week, according to The Patriot News. “I’d be for it, but I’d be for it under the right circumstances.”
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson previously noted an early signing period would be a good idea for student athletes who have long made up their mind what school that will attend. Franklin is on board with that part of the argument, suggesting it helps lock up the players who dream of playing for a particular school.
“What I mean by that is I think you only want an early signing period for the kids that are going to a school no matter what, and have always wanted to go to that school,” Franklin explained. “So it’s the kid that’s always grown up wanting to go to Penn State, is not going anywhere else. You might as well get that kid locked up.”
The Conference Commissioners Association will review the topic of an early signing period during a June meeting. Georgia head coach Mark Richt is a bit more cautious about the idea of the early signing period, as is Maryland head coach Randy Edsall. Stanford’s David Shaw is opposed to it.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has said he wants to make a spring trip for the football program an annual event. Staying true to his word, Harbaugh announced Michigan will be heading to South Africa next spring.
“We’re going to (South) Africa,” Harbaugh said in a radio interview with WTKA-AM in Ann Arbor, according to The Detroit Free Press. “We’re going to Johannesburg and Cape Town and we’re going to do a safari. How about that? How about a safari?”
This spring, Michigan visited Paris. Last year, the team took a trip to Rome. This all started becoming a thing after opposing football coaches in the south caused an uproar over Michigan packing up the program and heading to Clearwater for some spring football practices.
Each of the past two trips for Michigan have been covered by donations from some big-money donors to the program. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and The Graham Group founder Don Graham split the bill for Michigan’s trip to Paris this spring. Kotick also took up the expenses for Michigan’s trip to Rome in 2017. It is unknown how Michigan is covering the pending expense of a trip to South Africa at this time, but if donors with deep pockets keep taking care of the charges, there is no reason not to take advantage of the travel opportunities.
In the meantime, Harbaugh has plenty of time to pick out a good safari hat to go with his finest pairs of khaki pants. Of course, he’ll probably stick to the blue Michigan cap to keep with his style abroad.
Clemson quarterback Hunter Johnson is reportedly seeking to transfer to a new program, according to multiple reports Monday morning. The sophomore, a former five-star recruit in Clemson’s Class of 2017, is believed to have a desire to play for a couple of Big Ten schools.
Purdue and Northwestern have emerged as the top two potential destinations within the Big Ten, according to various reports. Johnson is an Indiana native and would figure to step right into a possible starting job with either the Boilermakers or Wildcats if he were to transfer to either Big Ten school. Of course, Johnson would have to wait until 2019 to begin playing for Purdue or Northwestern or any other FBS school due to NCAA transfer rules.
Despite Johnson’s talent and potential, it appears he got stuck in a tough spot on a Clemson roster that is overflowing with top-tier talent. With Kelly Bryant essentially cemented as Clemson’s starting quarterback, Johnson would have been waiting for his time to shine at the position, assuming he beat out the competition for the job. Clemson just added a five-star quarterback in the most recent recruiting class with Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence has already enrolled and played well in the Clemson spring game, offering a glimpse to the future of Clemson’s offense once Bryant moves on.
Johnson appeared in seven games as a freshman for the ACC champion Clemson Tigers last season, in which he completed 21 of 27 pass attempts for 234 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Zerrick Cooper, also a freshman last fall, appeared in three more games than Johnson as both backing up Bryant.
Purdue and Northwestern would both figure to be good landing spots for Johnson. Northwestern is preparing for one final year with Clayton Thorson at the helm, and Johnson could potentially slide right in once the 2019 season comes around after sitting out the year as a transfer. Purdue would also give Johnson a chance to shine in an offense coached by Jeff Brohm, which could rack up all kinds of attractive passing stats.
Johnson will have three years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2018 season. He also has a redshirt option to spare.
The Kansas Jayhawks made a change in leadership Monday morning with the firing of athletics director Sheahon Zenger. While a change in AD may be an ominous sign for a head coach of a struggling football program, Kansas football coach David Beaty appears to be safe from any further changes.
“Sheahon has been a loyal Jayhawk, and our athletics department has improved in many areas under his leadership,” Kansas chancellor Douglas Girod said in a released statement. “But Athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary.”
“[Earlier] today I spoke with Coach Beaty and shared my expectation that he will continue recruiting hard and getting his team ready for the season,” Girod made a point to say in his released statement about the firing of Zenger.
Deputy athletics director Sean Lester will fill the gap at the AD position on an interim basis while Kansas conducts a search for a new athletics director.
Zenger was named AD at Kansas in 2011, after a previous stint at Illinois State. Prior to his job at Illinois State, Zenger was an assistant AD at Kansas State. Zenger has made two coaching hires for Kansas football. The more recent hiring of Beaty was made in after the 2014 season and has yielded a football record of just 3-33 in that span. Prior to Beaty, Zenger was responsible for hiring former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis to a massive contract that took a toll on Kansas athletics years after the Weis experiment had imploded. Of course, Zenger should take the brunt of the attack for the Weis hire, but there is plenty of blame to be spread around with others having a chance to say “no” to the sizable contract that was being offered to Weis at the time.
With a new AD coming in, it may not be unfair to suggest the 2018 season must be one that sees obvious improvement in the football program on the field. Beaty’s hot seat will certainly be warming if Kansas continues to struggle and a new AD is put in place to decide his fate as the head coach moving forward.
Since retiring from the NFL, Charles Woodson has become increasingly vocal about his alma mater. Not only has the Michigan alum shouted out his love for the Wolverines, he’s also not shy in calling out the team after a few years of sub-par results — particularly when it comes to the game against their heated rival Ohio State.
You can add another chapter for Woodson in that matter over the weekend as the Heisman Trophy winner did not mince words in calling out how ‘The Game’ is being treated by some in Ann Arbor.
“You know what, to be quite honest, I really feel like in recent years there hasn’t been the emphasis I’m used to being put on that game,” Woodson told the Detroit Free Press on Saturday. “Every game has been put on the same level as that game. That’s not the way we were brought up. Not the way we were raised around here.
“We had no shame in saying (we were going to beat Ohio State). And every time I watch our teams in recent years, it’s ‘oh, it’s another game.’ It’s not.”
Woodson has already guaranteed a victory over the Buckeyes this spring at a commencement speech he gave to UM graduates and has been vocal about the program getting back to the position he had it in back in the late 1990’s when they were winning titles and — most importantly — beating Ohio State. The Wolverines have never beaten Urban Meyer since he arrived in Columbus and have just two wins in the series in the past 15 tries. Jim Harbaugh, who is certainly familiar with beating OSU as a player, is 0-3 against the Buckeyes as head coach.
It goes without saying that the team is very much aware of the current six-game losing streak they have against their chief rival and, given everything that has gone on this offseason, could be in their best position in years to get a win when the two meet in Columbus this November. However, Woodson might be getting a text message or phone call from Harbaugh to tone down the rhetoric just a tad given that he’s writing a check the players will have to cash.
Certainly everybody in Ann Arbor knows how big ‘The Game’ is to the school and will be emphasizing a win this year more than ever even without the extra push from one of the all-time greats in maize and blue.