Quick Hits: Ekeler, Mullen, Harbaugh, and Jim Tressel

Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler describes the moment he informed his players about leaving for Indiana: "It was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do professionally. I just stood there for two minutes. I couldn't even talk. I love those guys. They're like my kids."

"If you want to grow as a person and coach, you have to get out of your comfort zone. Some people think I'm nuts. But that's how I'm wired. And that's why I'm leaving my home state and dream job. You've got to grow, man."


Unique and very nice video production from Vandy athletics: Watch this great video of behind-the-scenes Day #1 with Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin.


Quoting West Virginia offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen: "I didn't see this coming.”


West Virginia QB Geno Smith praises outgoing offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen: "People don't see what he's done for me off the camera. He took me from a boy who came in not knowing anything about college and a guy who had made a lot of mistakes early in my career and molded me into a man with a lot of responsibilities. I'm able to say that I can take care of my business because of him.”

"As far as life goes, he teaches me life lessons on a daily basis. He's not a guy who's all about the Xs and Os. He's genuinely here for the players. I appreciate him for that. He was there for me when I was struggling with my foot injury and going through things and he really uplifted me."


John Harbaugh talks about Jim Harbaugh’s future: "I have no idea what he’s going to do. We do talk about it all the time. He’s having a baby ... in four or five days, and they’ve got the bowl game, so he’s just swimming right now. So he’s not even thinking about it right now.

"I think he wants to stay at Stanford, I think he’d love to stay there, but then again, you just have to see what happens. He’s not the kind of guy that’s going to make any kind of commitment until he’s ready to make a commitment. I think his commitment right now is having a baby and winning the Orange Bowl. So we’ll see what happens.”


Jim Tressel pumped up for Darrell Hazell: “I’m so excited for Darrell Hazell as he takes over as the head coach at Kent State. He has certainly been a difference-maker at Ohio State. The Golden Flashes are starting a golden era led by Darrell Hazell.”

Hazell: I went and watched film before I said yes to the job

Just days after winning his first national title at Florida, Urban Meyer told thousands of coaches at the AFCA Coaches Convention that the key to the profession is taking the right jobs.

Meyer urged coaches not to take any job, especially because of salary, but to take jobs where there is immediate potential (i.e. players).

Perhaps Darrell Hazell was listening.  On Monday, the former Ohio State wide receivers coach was introduced as the new head coach at Kent State.  Before accepting the job however, Hazell admitted, “I went and watched the film before I said yes to the job.”

Hazell said, “There are enough good players here to be competitive. If we can surround those good players we have currently with a few other guys, we’ll be OK to compete next year for what we want to compete for.”

So what the first step?

“If you don’t have a belief system, you don’t have a chance,” said Hazell. “We’re going to change the image of our guys, the way they think, to have a balanced ego and walk around with their chest out. That’s how it’s going to start.”

Hazell will coach with Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, where the Buckeyes will face Arkansas on January 4th in New Orleans.

Which assistant coach is absolutely crushing his contract incentives?

Oregon offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Mark Helfrich is cashing in on several contract incentives that will pay quite nicely.

According to USA Today, Helfrich earns $231,000 in base salary.  He earned an additional $17,000 for beating Oregon State and $35,000 for winning twelve regular-season games.

Helfrich secured another $12,000 for the team’s nine network TV appearances and will receive four months pay ($66,667) for reaching the BCS Championship Game.

What’s on the line in Glendale?  Helfrich will earn an additional $66,667 for winning the game and $50,000 for notching the Ducks’ thirteen victory.

We’re not done yet.  Helfrich will bring in another $30,000 for a top-10 finish and $75,000 for final #1 ranking.

How stoked is Helfrich about this season?

Most importantly, Helfrich was recently named the 2010 FootballScoop Quarterbacks Coach of the Year.  For this honor, we believe he should get another $200,000 for joining an elite group of previous winners such as Josh Heupel (Oklahoma, 2008) and Tom Rossley (Texas A&M, 2009).

On second thought, $250,000 sounds more reasonable.  He is the best in his craft, nominated and selected by his peers.

Maryland AD answers tough questions, explains decision

Maryland AD Kevin Anderson announced today that he is making a strategic business decision to buy out the contract of ACC Coach of the Year, Ralph Friedgen.

The most interesting part of the presser came when a reporter asked, “If James Franklin had not left for Vanderbilt, would Ralph be returning?”

Anderson responded, “Yes.”

Anderson also said, “James would have been a candidate in that pool.  I told him he would not automatically have given him the job.  The decision was his (to go to Vanderbilt).”

“We needed to make a long-term well thought out decision.”

“Having a head coach with one year remaining on his contract would have made it impossible to recruit well accomplished assistant coaches and high level recruits.”

“We will immediately begin a national search.”

“The search for a new head coach begins immediately.  The search is an open one.  Despite reports to the contrary, no candidate has been contacted by me or my staff.”

“He (Ralph) made it very clear he didn’t want to be a lame duck coach.”

“I do have a list.  There is no leading candidate.  Mike Leach is on that list.”

Pete Lembo talks about his plan at Ball State

Ball State introduced new head coach Pete Lembo just moments ago.  Lembo was 35-22 in five seasons as the Elon University head coach.  He was 44-14 in the five previous seasons as the head coach at Lehigh University.

Lembo said, “This is not about me.  This is about the Ball State program and all the different constituents in it.  My focus is to maximize the potential of the players.”

“I want our team to be the tightest knit team on the campus and in the MAC.  We will work hard to develop trust and build intangibles. We will be heavily involved in the players’ lives.”

“Character and fit are huge components for me.”

“I have extensive recruiting in Florida and Georgia, if we need to go outside our region, that’s where we’ll go.”

“The MAC is an outstanding league.  It has risen in recent years.  It’s been a long-term goal of mine.  There are so many parallels between the community we are leaving and this community.”

“I think in any profession, who you work for is half the battle.  I learned a lot of Tom (Collin) in this process.  He likes to hire people he can trust and then hand them the keys to the car and support them.”

“This is not going to be about Pete Lembo bringing in his guys.  Everyone is going to have a clean slate.  We are going to embrace all the players.”

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