Interesting News and Notes from In and Around the Spartan Nation
- MSU Basketball The meltdown that will ensue if the Spartans are blown out this week against UNC will not be pretty. Coach Izzo has talked about wanting to be elite and the expectations that come with it. The Spartans looked terrible against Maryland, beat a bad Oklahoma State and didn’t have an easy time with Wichita State. This is also a team that struggled at IPWF and UNC is far superior to any of them. Izzo has a fan base that affords him facilities that are amongst the best in the nation and better than many pro venues, the top salary in college basketball and the fans expect more. Something he wanted and has gotten. Is this team as good as UNC? No, but they certainly aren’t as bad as they have looked. There is no shortage of confidence in the Spartan Nation for Izzo and this season he will be highly scrutinized. He has quietly for years spoken about the Final Four at Ford Field. The fans and those around the program that have those expectations are not wrong to have them. I also think that Tom Izzo has earned the right to be judged at the end of the season rather than at the beginning. Some fans need to keep that in mind and withhold judgment as they meltdown over how the season has started.
- Brian Kelly Brian Kelly, the former CMU head coach was the front-runner to get the Tennessee job that shockingly went to fired Raider Coach Lane Kiffin. So what happened? Tennessee was, “Made aware,” that Coach Kelly, “Wasn’t interested at this time,” according to a source with DIRECT knowledge of the situation. Kelly has told me before on more than one occasion that Notre Dame is his dream job.
- Notre Dame The question is not if Charlie Weis is done at Notre Dame, but when. If Notre Dame is able to get Urban Meyer to leave Florida it will be a no brainer that the Irish make the change. Notre Dame is Meyer’s dream job and one source close to Urban told me Sunday night, “It is my opinion that if they would let him coach the national championship game (if he beats Bama) that he would leave for the Irish job. It is his dream and he would have done about as much as you can at Florida.” One thing that people are not considering is Brian Kelly. He has a lot of support among Irish insiders and if they can’t get Meyer, I would be shocked if he didn’t get the job. There is a reason that Kelly or to be politically correct those near him let Tennessee know that he wouldn’t be interested. Many close to the program feel Kelly thinks he has the green light from Notre Dame, but if they can get Urban he may be stuck without a high profile job that he craves. Here is another tid bit. The new Notre Dame Athletic Director has scheduled a meeting with Coach Weis next Monday. The only thing that will keep Charlie at ND is if the AD can’t raise the millions that they buy out will take. That is not likely.
- Marinelli/Lions Monte Kiffin is on his way to Tennessee with his son Lane. One thing that I have heard twice in the last 24 hours from two separate sources is that the Bucs can stomach the loss because they are VERY CONFIDENT that Rod Marinelli will be fired and Gruden would willing take Marinelli back as the DC.
- More Lions Speculation is mounting from sources around the league that the Lions will look outside of the organization for a GM. Word is also that WCF is being, “Pushed hard,” to retain Tom Lewand from his son as President. If that is the case (and I believe it is) this will go over like a lead balloon. One highly placed source inside the NFL told me this morning, “There is no way he can do that. If Mayhew is not retained and Lewand is how in the world could that be justified? The Lions fans are loyal, but they aren’t stupid. He has to clean house.”
- More Lions and this may be good news? Outside of WCF doing all Lions fans a favor and selling the team, there is a next best option. WCF should fire and clean house and hire Scott Pioli from the Patriots. He is a brilliant football mind and can and will surround himself with great people. Pioli is the son-in-law of Bill Parcells and is a former Executive of the Year. WCF is a good man (I am so sick of having to keep saying that, but you have to or people think you hate the guy) but he is a meddler that has tied the hands of his GM’s for years. I hate to say it, but fans come up with pie in the skies hopes of names that they want, but good football people are not coming here or anywhere to be second guessed and over ruled by an owner who hasn’t and can’t won anything. If Ford won’t sell the team, the Lions best option is to head to New England and pay Pioli $5 million per year to be President and GM. Give him total control, in writing with full football authority. Sell Pioli that WCF and Jr. will stay out of the decision-making. Now you ask for what good news I might have? Pioli is interested in the Lions job if he would have total and complete authority. He’s interested and not talking to him would be dumb. However, we have come to expect dumb moves from this organization.
- Have you booked your trip to Orlando? All signs point to the Spartans going to Orlando for the January 1 Capital One Bowl game. The Spartans need to root for USC to simply take care of business and beat UCLA. The bad taste of the PSU game isn’t gone, but a 9-3 record and a great January 1 bowl game sure put the season is perspective.
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