Illinois officially welcomed three new additions to the football staff on Wednesday, including one in-house promotion for the Illini program. The new members of the staff are running back coach Mike Bellamy, offensive line coach Bob McClain and strength and conditioning coach Lou Hernandez.
Bellamy spent the previous two seasons as a wide receivers coach for Toledo but spent four years on the Illinois staff from 2012 through 2015 as an assistant coach. Of course, Bellamy is also a former Illinois football player who earned All-Big Ten honors as a wide receiver in the late 1980s.
“It’s always a positive when you can add an alum to your staff,” Illinois head coach Lovie Smith said in a released statement. “Coach Bellamy has proven himself as an assistant here with a previous staff and at Toledo the last two seasons. Mike’s experience in Chicago and the state, along with his knowledge of our program, will definitely be a benefit. He did a terrific job with the receivers when he was here before, and now he gets the opportunity to expand his coaching role to running backs. Both coaches are excellent additions to our program.”
Hernandez is also marking a return to the Illini. After previously working at Illinois form 2005 to 2011, Hernandez has spent the last seven seasons at North Carolina.
“Returning to Illinois is an incredible opportunity,” Hernandez said in a statement. “This is not only an amazing place to work professionally, but it is also very special to me personally.
McClain was an in-house promotion for the staff. McClain joined the Illinois football program as an analyst last year. He has a history of coaching offensive linemen with jobs at Glenville State, Appalachian State, Virginia State, California University of Pennsylvania and Lenoir-Rhyne prior to his arrival at Illinois last year.
Former Missouri and Toledo head coach Gary Pinkel revealed in a TV interview on Sunday night that he is once again undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“I’m doing good. I had to get treatment again for the first time in four years. My cancer came out of remission, and so I had treatment last month. I’m doing fine,” Pinkel told KMIZ. “With my type of lymphoma, you’ll never be healed. But that’s kind of why I retired when I did – I just wanted to not go back and regret working 85 hours a week, 35 weeks out of the year when I could be doing other things with my family and my eight grandkids.”
Pinkel was originally diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May of 2015 and stepped down after that season. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the lymph nodes and then spreads throughout the body.
“You keep battling it. I’m going to battle it, Pinkel said. “I’ve got a very positive approach to it, and I’m around a lot of good people that are helping me. There’s a lot of people out there with a lot worse cancers than Gary Pinkel has, and so prayers to all of them.”
Since retiring, Pinkel has used his time as a fundraiser for Missouri and also running the GP M.A.D.E. Foundation, which supports children with cancer and also provides mentoring for at-need kids.
Pinkel, 63, was 191-110-3 as a head coach at two schools over 25 seasons.
Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese is joining Florida’s staff as an analyst, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Benoit.
Zampese spent the 2016-17 seasons as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator after serving 13 seasons as Marvin Lewis‘s quarterbacks coach. Cincinnati went 13-18-1 in Zampese’s two seasons running the offense, which is why he spent 2018 as the Cleveland Browns’ quarterbacks coach and the first part of 2019 as the offensive coordinator for the AAF’s Atlanta Legends.
He is the son of former Chargers, Rams, Cowboys and Patriots offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese.
It is not immediately known what the younger Zampese’s role will be with the Gators, but his experience indicates he’ll work with Dan Mullen and coordinators John Hevesy and Billy Gonzales to develop Florida’s offensive plan and help Brian Johnson tutor the quarterbacks, or perhaps use his coordinator experience to self-scout Florida’s offense and scout Florida’s future opponents.
All the reporting that came out since the bombshell reports saying Connecticut is looking to leave the American Athletic Conference to rejoin the non-football Big East have confirmed that, yes, this is really happening, likely in time for the 2020-21 athletic year. The reporting has also said that UConn’s soon-to-be-homeless football program will not drop down to FCS, but instead join a different conference or try to make it as an FBS independent.
On Saturday, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy tweeted that UConn has determined it will not return to FCS, where the program competed for most of its history before joining the then-power conference Big East in 2004.
On Sunday morning, NCAA.com’s Andy Katz followed with a note saying it looked like the Huskies will try to make a go of it as an independent, writing that UConn will attempt to schedule neighbors like UMass (a fellow independent), Boston College, Syracuse and Rutgers while honoring existing contracts for home-and-homes with Duke, Illinois, NC State and others.
For a check in with someone who might actually know something, let’s see what Huskies head coach Randy Edsall has to say.
Either way, it sounds like the train is moving and we could hear something official sooner rather than later.