Urban talks LeBron’s return to Ohio

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Earlier this millennium — that reads and sounds so odd, but not anymore so than using “aughts” — then-Notre Dame assistant Urban Meyer offered a scholarship to All-State wide receiver — and basketball megastar — LeBron James.

The relationship cultivated at that time reaped an appearance by The King at an Ohio State game last season as the Ohio State head coach’s guest.

Friday, the Prodigal King returned home to Ohio after the future basketball Hall of Famer announced he would be re-signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Not so unexpectedly, and after a brief delay relative to Les Miles, Meyer took to Twitter to address the news.

A few hours after that tweet, Meyer spoke to Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer about what, just four short years ago, many thought would’ve been an impossible let alone improbable return.  Not surprisingly, Meyer went with what many would consider hyperbole but’s actually closer to reality when it comes to what it means for the state in general and Northeast Ohio specifically.

“When I heard the news, I was like, ‘They’re going to shut down the whole state,'” Meyer, an Ohio native, said. “I’m really happy for Northeast Ohio. Now we’ve got to go get a championship.”

(Writer’s note: a professional sports championship in the city of Cleveland that’s 50 years in the making, by the way.)
(Life-long, 45-year-old Cleveland pro sports fan note: ugh.  It’s a slap in the face, punch in the gut, kick in the tentacles to type that.)

James has long been connected to the flagship university in his home state.

On more than one occasion, the hoops star has stated publicly that, if he wouldn’t have jumped to the NBA right out of high school — that pro league has since changed that rule — he would’ve played basketball for the Buckeyes.  Hell, he even has his own locker in the OSU men’s basketball team’s locker room.

Given his return to Northeast Ohio, those around the basketball and football programs can expect to see the Chosen One around more and more.

As far as Meyer is concerned, that’s more than fine.

“He’s got an open door,” the coach told the paper. “If he wants to catch a pass, we can probably figure that out, too.”

Ohio State co-DC Jeff Hafley reportedly rebuffed interview overtures from Cincinnati Bengals

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The Cincinnati Bengals were rebuffed in its pursuit of an SEC defensive coordinator this past week.  As it turns out, they pursued another coordinator at the collegiate level — and were shot down yet again.

According to a report from the NFL Network, the Bengals sought an interview with new Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley for their still-vacant coordinator job. “However,” the report stated, “he’s not going to renege on his commitment to OSU after taking the job last month.”

On Jan. 7, the Buckeyes confirmed Hafley and Michigan assistant Greg Mattison had been named as co-coordinators on Ryan Day‘s first OSU coaching staff.

The 39-year-old Hafley — he’ll turn 40 in April — has spent the past three seasons as the defensive backs coach for the San Francisco 49ers.  All told, Hafley worked at the NFL for the last seven seasons.

Hafley’s last job at the collegiate level coming at Rutgers in 2011 as part of the coaching staff of Greg Schiano, who was let go by Day as OSU’s defensive coordinator early last month.

Ex-Illinois WR Mike Bellamy returning to Illini as RBs coach

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A familiar face will reportedly be next up on the offensive side of Lovie Smith‘s Illinois coaching staff.

Bob Asmussen of the Champaign News-Gazette was one of a handful reporting Friday that Smith is set to name Mike Bellamy as his new running backs coach.  While there’s nothing yet official from the football program, a school official stated that a staff announcement could come as early as this weekend.

The hiring of Bellamy, who would replace an assistant lost to a MAC school, would mark a Champaign homecoming on a couple of fronts.

In the late eighties, Bellamy was a first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver and second-team All-American kick returner for the Illini.  Then, from 2012-15, Bellamy served as wide receivers coach at his alma mater.

The past two seasons, Bellamy was the wide receivers coach at Toledo.  In between his stints at Toledo and Illinois, he was a quality control coach at Mississippi State in 2016.

Arkansas reportedly hiring Auburn staffer for on-field role

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One SEC West school has turned to another from the same division to fill a hole on its coaching staff.  Reportedly.

According to 247Sports.com, and citing two sources familiar with the decision, Chad Morris is expected to hire Kenny Ingram as Arkansas’ defensive line coach. Morris’ move to add a new assistant to his Razorbacks staff was triggered by John Scott‘s move to South Carolina earlier this offseason.

Ingram, who played his college football at Arkansas State, has spent the past two seasons as the Director of Player Relations at Auburn.

Prior to his time on The Plains, Ingram worked as the defensive line coach at Cincinnati from 2015-16.  From 2006-09, he was on the coaching staff at Memphis, including a turn as defensive coordinator his last season with the Tigers.

In 2012, Ingram worked with the defensive line at his alma mater ASU.

Lincoln Riley’s brother named App State running backs coach

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Garrett Riley is a bright, accomplished coach in his own right, but until he wins back-to-back Heismans with two different quarterbacks (or, at least becomes a head coach in his own right), he’s going to be known as his big brother’s little brother. With that in mind: Lincoln Riley’s brother has been announced as Appalachian State’s new running backs coach.

“I’m excited to be part such a traditionally successful program,” Riley said in a statement. “I’m humble and grateful to have the opportunity to be around this organization and work with Coach Drink and the rest of the staff that I’ve known about for several years. Look forward to continuing the great success that Appalachian State’s had, and I can’t wait to start working with the players.”

Garrett followed Lincoln to Texas Tech and East Carolina before branching out on his own at Kansas, where he joined the staff as an offensive analyst in 2016 and was promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2017 and tight ends/fullbacks coach in 2018.

Appalachian State has not announced an offensive coordinator under new head coach Eli Drinkwitz — and certainly the head coach, a former offensive coordinator himself, will have tremendous sway on his favored side of the ball initially — it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Riley become the Mountaineers’ offensive coordinator in 2020 or 2021. “We’re looking to be cutting edge on offense, and we expect him to continue to push that,” Drinkwitz said Friday. “His experience coaching in North Carolina will also benefit our program.”