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Ole Miss confirms hiring of Lane Kiffin as head coach

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That certainly didn’t take long.  At all.

Friday, reports emerged that, barring the unexpected, Lane Kiffin would be the next head football coach at Ole Miss. Saturday afternoon, less than an hour after Florida Atlantic claimed another Conference USA championship, Ole Miss confirmed that, yes, the Lane Train is rolling into Oxford.

Kiffin will officially be introduced at a 2 p.m. ET press conference Monday.

“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Coach Kiffin to the Ole Miss family,” athletic director Keith Carter said. “As we entered this process, we were looking for energy, innovativeness and a program builder who could excite our student-athletes and fans. Coach Kiffin checked every box and is a home run for our program. I look forward to locking arms with him to take Ole Miss Football to a championship level.”

The 44-year-old Kiffin — yes, he’s still just 44 — has spent two separate stints in the SEC. The first was a blink-and-you-missed-it year as the head coach at Tennessee.  From 2014-16, Kiffin was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Alabama.

The hiring means that Kiffin will square off against Nick Saban at least once a season as well.

“I am truly honored and humbled to join the Ole Miss family, and recognize this as a special opportunity to lead Rebel Football into the future,” Kiffin said. “I am especially grateful to Keith Carter, Chancellor Boyce and the entire Ole Miss family for their trust and confidence. Our staff and I will work tirelessly to recruit and develop successful players for this program, and I look forward to producing many exciting memories to add to Ole Miss’ storied football legacy. I am excited to get to Oxford and begin the groundwork of building a championship program that Mississippi’s flagship university deserves, and I’m thrilled to be back in the greatest athletics conference in the nation. Hotty Toddy!”

Named the head coach at FAU in December of 2016, Kiffin has since led the Owls to a 25-13 record.  The win Saturday over UAB gave FAU two conference championships in three seasons as the Owls won the title in Kiffin’s first season.

Kiffin will not remain with the Owls through their bowl game this season.  Instead, the school confirmed that defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer will serve as interim head coach until a successor is named.

“Coach Kiffin deserves our thanks and a great deal of credit for continuing to build our football program to high levels of success,” a statement from athletic director Brian White began.

“A national search will begin immediately. I know there will be a great deal of interest in the position. We have an extremely talented roster returning with an established culture of success. There are outstanding facilities here with the new Schmidt Family Complex about to open and recent renovations to FAU Stadium. I couldn’t be more excited about the future of our football program.”

Ex-Houston safety Earl Foster killed in shooting

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Houston is the latest college football program to be hit with a tragedy involving a current or former player.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle has reported that Earl Foster (pictured, right) was killed in an East Houston shooting Tuesday night. According to the report, Foster was found dead outside of a gas station.

Duarte also wrote that “[a] female companion was transported to a local hospital in critical condition.”

The shooting reportedly happened somewhere other than the gas station. “The vehicle arrived at the gas station and asked for help,” the report stated.

As of this posting, no arrests have been made. The shooting remains under investigation by the Houston Police Department.

Foster, a three-star prospect coming out of Lamar High School in Houston, was a safety for the Houston football team from 2012-15. He appeared in 49 games for the Cougars. All of his action came in a reserve role or on special teams.

The Houston football program expressed sadness over Foster’s death.

Craig Naivar, who was Foster’s position coach in 2015, posted on Twitter his sadness over the development.

“The relationships & bonds built thru competition, the grind & fellowship last forever,” the new USC safeties coach wrote. Very saddened today to hear of the loss of one of our brothers. Please keep Earl & his family close you your hearts, in your thoughts & prayers, Love you buddy.”

Oregon expected to land Boston College grad transfer QB Anthony Brown

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A very experienced player who could replace Justin Herbert has been added to the Oregon football roster.  Reportedly.

In mid-December, Anthony Brown took the first step in leaving Boston College by placing his name into the NCAA transfer database.  Four months later, the quarterback is ready to take the next step as Yahoo Sports! is reporting that Brown is set to be added to the Oregon football roster.

As a graduate transfer, Brown would be eligible to play for the Oregon football team in 2020.  The upcoming season would serve as his final year of eligibility.

In mid-October, Brown suffered a knee injury that was serious enough to sideline him for the remainder of the 2019 season.  He also saw his redshirt freshman season in 2017 cut short because of a knee injury.

In between the twin knee injuries, Brown had started 18 straight games under center for the Eagles — 12 in 2018, six in 2019.  All told, he started 28 games during his time with the ACC school.

Brown, whose decision to transfer came a week or so after head coach Steve Addazio was fired, will apparently finish his time at BC with 4,738 yards, 40 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in completing nearly 55 percent of his 680 pass attempts.  he also ran for 421 yards and another four touchdowns.

Oregon currently has three quarterbacks on its football roster.  Those are redshirt sophomore Tyler Shough, redshirt freshman Cale Millen and true freshman Jay Butterfield.  Shough is the only one in that group who has actually attempted a pass at the collegiate level.  As Herbert’s primary backup in 2019, Shough completed 12-of-15 passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns.

Butterfield was a four-star member of the Oregon football Class of 2020.  The California high schooler was rated as the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the country in this year’s class.  He’s widely viewed as as the quarterback of the future for the Ducks.

Iowa State announces one-year, temporary reductions in pay, bonuses for coaches

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Iowa State is the first FBS athletic department to address the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.  They certainly, though, won’t be the last.

Because of the crisis, there are growing fears that the 2020 college football season could be canceled.  While all options are being considered, a complete cancellation of the season would have a steep impact on the financial bottom line of most FBS schools, especially those in the Group of Five.

Because of previous revenue streams in the tens of millions, a Power Five program would be better equipped to handle such a development.  One Power Five school, though, is getting ahead of the cash-cow spigot that is college football potentially being shut off.  In a letter posted Wednesday night, Iowa State athletic director Scott Pollard unveiled “several initiatives that we are implementing in the athletics department to best prepare for, both the known and the unknown, financial challenges that we will be facing soon.”

For our audience, the most noteworthy initiative involves coaches’ pay.  That one-year reduction will save the athletic department — Pollard made sure to note the department “is funded almost entirely by external sources” — in excess of $3 million.  Additionally, bonuses for coaches have been suspended.  That move will save in the neighborhood of $1 million

From the release:

  1. A one-year, temporary pay reduction for athletics department coaches and certain staff. This comprehensive plan will reduce total payroll by more than $3M.
  2. A one-year, temporary suspension of all bonuses/incentives for all coaches. This decision will save the department $1M.
  3. Delaying (from January 2021 to January 2022) a previously announced increase in Cyclone Club annual giving levels. The delay will save donors approximately $2.5M for required seating donations.
  4. A freeze on season / individual game ticket prices for all sports.
  5. An extension to the deadline for this year’s Cyclone Club donations and football season ticket renewals to May 29, 2020.
  6. Providing multiple payment options for season tickets and donations. Those required payments can be made monthly, quarterly or semi-annually.

In December of last year, and amidst rumors of other job opportunities, Iowa State announced a contract extension for head football coach Matt Campbell.  His $3.6 million in salary was sixth among Big 12 head coaches in 2019.

At this point, it’s unclear how much Campbell’s pay will be reduced.

Michigan State equipment manager sewing facemasks to help fight against COVID-19

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The need for facemasks in the country has never been so high, and many are attempting to chip in and help produce as many a possible. Among those taking action to produce facemasks for those who need them is Michigan State head equipment manager Andrew Kolpacki. Kolpacki, with his friends, has been spending time learning how to make facemasks suitable for those working in high-risk jobs fighting COVID-19, and he is committed to making the facemasks for as long as he is in isolation.

“Sewing is used in football equipment we usually are repairing jerseys but obviously without being on the football field right now for spring football we can use that skill that we’ve developed and put it towards good use,” Kolpacki said in a story published by WLNS.

According to the report, Kolpacki and two of his friends have produced around 100 masks while working about four hours a day. The masks are being distributed to local health care workers, nursing homes, and family and friends.

Every little bit helps in times like these, especially with medical facilities sometimes having to scramble just to find facemasks, and others preserving the facemasks they do have so they can be sure masks are available when treating patients with coronavirus symptoms.

They learned how to make the facemasks by watching videos on YouTube, as anyone can do these days. And Kolpacki, whose mother is a nurse, has his own sewing machine, so he was ready to step into action.