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Penn State AD hired search firm to negotiate new James Franklin contract

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Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour appears to really be a fan of a particular search firm. So much so she hired one to do part of her job and recommended them to a rival school to boot.

Those are a few of the takeaways after reporter Andy Wittry decided to dig a little deeper into the recent Michigan State coaching search. This included a freedom of information request for emails to Spartans athletic director Bill Beekman that uncovered several gems.

While there were the notable ‘fan suggests hiring XYZ coach’ type emails, there was also a note that Barbour sent along to her counterpart in East Lansing:

“Sorry to hear about Coach Dantonio’s decision to retire,” the Nittany Lions AD wrote. “As I think we’ve discussed in the past, we have been partnered with Chad Chatlos and Ventura Partners for the last three plus years, utilizing them as our search consultant on all head coaching searches as well as a number of upper level administrator hires.

“Although we have not had to do a football search at Penn State during my time, frankly Chad and I have prepared for a football search on several occasions and he most recently served as our negotiator for Coach Franklin’s latest extension. He is/was fantastic.”

MSU did use a search firm to eventually hire Mel Tucker and spent six-figures with DHR International.

Beyond it being fascinating (and to some PSU fans, perhaps concerning?) that one AD would recommend a particular person to work with to a division rival, it’s notable that Penn State brought in outside help to lock their head coach up with a new deal.

The school confirmed on Feb. 26 that James Franklin had agreed to an extension worth over $35 million over the next six years.

While it’s no shock to see a search firm involved in finding a new coach, it’s a bit unique to bring one in for a renegotiation with a current coach — something most AD’s handle internally with an opposing agent.

The close ties with Chatlos and Ventura Partners is also interesting given that Collegiate Sports Associates was the search firm that wound up helping the university find Barbour for her current role. Typically that leads to a bit of a quid pro quo where the same firm is used for other searches but the Nittany Lions have instead gone exclusive with another.

Take note, as well, that Barbour said she has prepared for a football search on several occasions. Perhaps that little nugget is the result of Franklin’s name popping up in connection to spots like Florida State and USC in recent months.

Instead he appears to be sticking around Happy Valley for several years to come with that hefty new salary that was recently negotiated.

USC beats out Alabama, LSU, others for four-star RB Brandon Campbell

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Facing a must-win season — if the season is even playedClay Helton has added a talented piece to his future USC roster.  If he’s still the Trojans’ head coach come next year, of course.

On his personal Twitter account Saturday night, Brandon Campbell announced that he has committed to playing for Helton and his USC football program. According to 247Sports.com, the running back opted for USC over a list of finalists that included Alabama, LSU, Penn State and TCU.

That same site noted that Florida was also a consideration until Reynolds dropped the Gators this past week.

Campbell is a four-star 2021 prospect. He is rated as the No. 22 back in the country. The Katy, Tex., product is also the No. 49 player in the state regardless of position.

Campbell is the fifth commitment for USC this cycle. He’s the third four-star recruit to verbal. Quarterback Jake Garcia is the only five-star commit.

With the commitment, USC now holds the No. 2 class, behind Oregon, in the Pac-12 on the 247Sports.com composite. Overall, the Trojans are 13th nationally according to that same metric.

USC and Oregon, incidentally, are the only Pac-12 schools in the Top 20 currently. The Big Ten far and away leads all conferences with eight Top 20 classes currently, followed by the SEC’s four, ACC’s three and Big 12’s two. Football-independent Notre Dame (No. 6) is in the group as well.

Washington announces death of former player, coach Jim Lambright

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Jim Lambright spent nearly his entire adult life in Husky purple and gold, and the Lambright family announced Sunday that that life has ended.

“I’m deeply saddened by the news of Coach Lambright’s passing,” Washington AD Jennifer Cohen said in a statement. “Coach Lambright is synonymous with Husky football and he gave so much to this program both as a player and coach. My love for the University of Washington was sparked during Coach’s tenure on our football staff and I’m grateful for the impact he had on so many. I’d like to extend heartfelt condolences to his family, former players, teammates and coaches.”

An Everett, Wash., native, Lambright was an all-conference defensive end for the Huskies from 1962-64. He then moved into coaching as an assistant at Fife High School in Tacoma and then at Shoreline Community College north of Seattle.

His former coach Jim Owens called Lambright home in 1969, and he remained on Washington’s staff for the next 30 years.

Future Hall of Fame coach Don James retained Lambright in 1975 and promoted him to defensive coordinator in 1978, where he helped the Washington win six Pac-8/Pac-10 championships, three Rose Bowls and a share of the 1991 national championship.

Lambright was promoted to head coach upon James’ retirement in 1993, where he went 44-25-1 with a share of the Pac-10 title in 1995 and AP top-20 finishes in 1996 and ’97. He was relieved of duties after the 1998 season in favor of Rick Neuheisel.

“Coach Lambright was a legend at the UW, particularly when it came to playing the kind of physical, aggressive defense that his teams were known for,” said Washington head coach Jimmy Lake. “He was always supportive of the program that he loved so much. His impact on Husky football will not be forgotten.”

Lambright is survived by his daughter Kris, son Eric and two grandchildren. He was 77 years old. Cause of death was not revealed.

Patriarch of Hebert family dies of coronavirus complications

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Bobby Hebert, Sr., died Saturday due to complications of COVID-19, the family has announced. He was 81 years old.

Bobby, Sr., was the patriarch of the Hebert clan, a prominent football family in Louisiana.

Bobby Hebert, Jr., played quarterback at Northwestern State in the early 1980s — he was a teammate of Ed Orgeron‘s — before becoming the most decorated player in USFL history and a 12-year quarterback for the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.

Bobby’s grandson, T-Bob Hebert, played center at LSU from 2007-11. He was a redshirt on the Tigers’ 2007 title team and started on the 2011 LSU team that won that season’s SEC title and reached the BCS National Championship.

Bobby, Jr., is now an afternoon host for WWL-AM sports radio in New Orleans, and T-Bob hosts mornings for the ESPN Radio affiliate in Baton Rouge.

“You can be tough and the virus can still overwhelm you,” Bobby, Jr., said on WWL on Friday.

“I’m kinda numb and shocked. You get numb and then sometimes you don’t want to accept reality and what you are dealing with.”

Through tears, Hebert, Jr., described his father as a “fighter” who survived colon cancer, multiple strokes and a birth defect that required open-heart surgery.

Former LSU WR Orlando McDaniel dies from coronavirus complications

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Former LSU wide receiver Orlando McDaniel has died from complications related to COVID-19, according to LSU track and field coach Dennis Shaver.

Shaver told WBRZ McDaniel fell ill after traveling to Washington, D.C., to visit a family member.

A Shreveport native, McDaniel played wide receiver for LSU from 1978-81. He caught 64 passes for 1,184 yards and three touchdowns over his career in addition to winning an SEC championship and a runner-up finish at the NCAA championships as a 110-meter hurdler.

He was a second-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 1982 and played in three career games.

McDaniel, who was 59 and not 89, founded a youth track club in North Texas after finishing his playing career.

“He was such a tremendous athlete in both sports, but the love he had for track and field was really special,” Shaver told WBRZ. “We’re fortunate that people like him get involved with our youth.

“He was one of the most important people in our sport. He had to persuade youth to spend their summers doing something productive. Orlando had essentially dedicated his life to it. They’d come to summer meets and have two busloads full of people. It was a real impressive group of people. He’s sorely going to be missed.”