The Lane Train is wasting little time rolling out members of his first coaching staff in Oxford.
Officially confirmed as Ole Miss’ head coach Saturday, Lane Kiffin on Thursday unveiled the first two members of his on-field staff — offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and offensive assistant Kevin Smith.
While Smith wasn’t given an official title, he spent the past three seasons as Kiffin’s running backs coach at FAU. That was the 43-year-old Smith’s first on-field role at any level of football as he had spent the previous three seasons at his alma mater UCF as both a coaching intern and quality control coach.
Smith, a consensus All-American as a running back at UCF, played five years for the NFL’s Detroit Lions and one season in the Canadian Football League.
Lebby, coincidentally enough, spent the past two seasons at UCF, the first as quarterbacks coach before being promoted to coordinator following the 2018 season. Prior to that, he was an assistant at Baylor for five years, primarily as running backs coach.
Lebby’s father-in-law is disgraced former Baylor head coach Art Briles. His brother-in-law is Kendal Briles, who was Kiffin’s offensive coordinator at FAU for one season before leaving for the same job at Houston and then, ultimately, Florida State.
In addition to those on-field hires, Wilson Love was announced as the Rebels’ head strength & conditioning coach. Like Smith, Love was a part of Kiffin’s Owls program the past three years.
Wednesday, Mike Norvell confirmed the identity of his offensive coordinator at Florida State. A day later, it was the coordinator on the other side of the ball who was identified.
In what amounts to a reunion after a very brief time apart, Norvell announced Thursday that, as had been speculated, Adam Fuller has been hired as Florida State’s defensive coordinator. Fuller spent the 2019 season in the same position for Norvell at Memphis.
“We are so very excited about the addition of Adam Fuller to the Florida State football family,” Norvell said. “Adam is one of the top defensive minds in college football and has been a part of developing some of the most productive defensive units in the nation throughout his career. Coach Fuller will bring an aggressive and detailed approach to our Seminole defense. It will put our great student-athletes in a position to showcase all their skills and talents while being developed at the highest level.
“Adam has recruited the state of Florida, specifically the Tampa area, throughout his career, which will assist in fostering relationships throughout the state. I am excited to see him elevate our Florida State defense back to one of the nation’s elite.”
Memphis was Fuller’s second coordinating job at the FBS level. The first came at Marshall the year before.
“My family and I are very excited to join the Seminole program,” Fuller said. “The history and tradition of Florida State’s defense brings a major responsibility. I look forward to embracing the pride that comes along with that.”
Fuller and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham are the second and third FSU staff additions for Norvell. The first was Odell Haggins, who served as the Seminoles’ interim head coach after Willie Taggart was fired and was quickly retained by the new head coach.
After a season away, Lavonte Valentine is back at the FBS level.
By way of his personal Twitter account Wednesday, Valentine announced that he has decided to transfer to South Florida and continue his collegiate playing career with the Bulls. As Valentine, whose transfer from South Carolina was confirmed in August of this year, comes to USF from the NAIA level, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.
The move comes a couple of days after Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott was named as the football program’s next head coach.
Coming out of high school in Melbourne, Fla., Valentine was a three-star member of South Carolina’s 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 all-purpose running back in the country. In part because of a torn ACL suffered his senior season of high school that caused him to miss spring practice and fall behind on the depth chart, Valentine took a redshirt for his true freshman season.
Valentine did, though, run track for USC this past spring, and he told The State that he will run track and play football at USF.
Colorado State has hired former Boston College and Temple head coach Steve Addazio to be the next head Ram, the program announced Wednesday.
“I would like to thank President Joyce McConnell and Director of Athletics Joe Parker for the opportunity to lead this football program,” Addazio said. “Colorado State University is a world-class institution, and Fort Collins is an incredible city to live in and to be able to recruit to. Our program will be one built on toughness and passion, and we will work tirelessly to develop men of character to return championship-level football back to Colorado State.”
Many had this job pegged for Ohio State super-recruiter (and former Ram running back) Tony Alford from the start. However, the search quickly centered on former head coaches and, after periods where it looked like former Tennessee head coach Butch Jones and former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson would be the hire, Addazio got the job.
Addazio is 57-55 in nine seasons as a head coach at BC and Temple. He went 9-4 upon taking over for Al Golden at Temple in 2011, then never posted anything better than a 7-6 mark in his eight remaining seasons. BC was 6-6 when it announced he would not return earlier this month.
Colorado State went 4-8 under Mike Bobo this season.
Following his exit from BC, Addazio was quickly dogged by accusations of rude and paranoid treatment by former players.
“Throughout his career, Coach Addazio has been committed to the holistic development of student-athletes and of the programs he has led,” Parker said. “He has focused on crafting cultures where his students thrive on the field and in the classroom. We look forward to Coach Addazio leading our football team as we strive to be the preeminent program in the Mountain West.”
So much for that.
Monday, a report surfaced that, if he opted to forego entering the 2020 NFL Draft early, Jordan Love was considering taking a graduate transfer from Utah State. Specifically, The Home for Wayward Transfer Quarterbacks, Oklahoma, was mentioned as a potential destination; Houston and Texas Tech were considered options as well.
Tuesday evening, Love made all of the transfer discussion a moot point as the junior announced via Twitter that he will indeed become a part of next year’s NFL draft pool.
The 6-4, 225-pound Love passed for more than 3,000 yards each of the past two seasons, throwing 49 touchdowns versus 22 interceptions in that span. He rushed for seven touchdowns a season ago as well, although he was held without one on the ground this season.
Some view Love as a likely first-round draft pick, which will obviously influence his decision. In four career games against Power Five opponents, Love went 83-of-135 for 1,036 yards, four touchdowns and nine interceptions. This season against LSU, he completed half of his 30 pass attempts in a loss to LSU, throwing for just 130 yards and three interceptions.
“Jordan and his family have been tremendous throughout this process, and he is making this announcement now so it’s not a distraction to the team and his teammates leading up to the bowl game,” said Utah State head football coach Gary Andersen in a statement. “Jordan has been a great student-athlete and is a tremendous teammate, and we are excited for his future in the NFL. Go Aggies!”