The NCAA Football season is right around the corner. With the month of July comes training camps.
It may be a quiet period for college football, let’s just call it the calm before the storm, but there were still plenty of interesting stories this past week. (Un)fortunately, a couple of them are centered on Lane Kiffin. Let’s check out what you may have missed.
If you took a long weekend, you may have missed last Friday’s announcement that Florida Atlantic has given head coach Lane Kiffin an extension that will keep him coaching the Eagles until 2027. Kiffin has been at Florida Atlantic for just one season, but he led them to an 11-3 record, a perfect 8-0 record in conference play, a Conference USA championship, and a win in the Boca Raton Bowl. He verbally agreed to the extension back in December, but now it’s official and in writing, which is an important factor for someone like Kiffin.
Oddly enough, there is no increase in his base salary of $950,000 per year. However, there are some impressive incentives, including half a million dollars if FAU reaches the College Football Playoff Championship Game. Kiffin will also get a $1 million bonus if the Owls are a top-10 team for three straight seasons, so clearly, the bar is quite high. There are also buyouts in his contract in case a bigger school comes calling. But why you would ever want to leave a job, any job, in Boca Raton is anybody’s guess.
Speaking of Kiffin, he was on a podcast last week and divulged that when he was the offensive coordinator at Alabama, security told him to wear a bulletproof vest during the Crimson Tide’s road game against Tennessee, where Kiffin notoriously coached for a single season before heading to USC. Kiffin managed to convince security officers that the vest wasn’t needed. Of course, as we all know, Kiffin was no shot during his return to Tennessee.
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In a surprise move, Cal wide receiver Demetris Robertson announced last week that he intends to transfer due to personal reasons, although he did not elaborate on those reasons. A couple years ago, Robertson was a five-star recruit and the top wide receiver in the country coming out of high school. He had an excellent freshman season, catching 50 passes for 767 yards and seven touchdowns. However, he made only seven catches a year ago before being sidelined the rest of the season with an injury. As a native of Georgia, Robertson could be leaving Cal for a school closer to home. If he transfers to another FBS school, he will have to sit out a year but will then have two years of eligibility left.
Back in January, Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski tragically committed suicide. Earlier this week, his parents announced that his autopsy showed signs of Stage 1 CTE. According to his father, Mark Hilinski, the medical examiner likened Tyler’s brain to that of a 65-year old. His parents said Tyler had never fired a gun until shooting himself with a shotgun. They noticed no signs of depression other than him being less responsive to their calls and texts late in the season and into January. Tyler’s younger brother, Ryan, a quarterback committed to South Carolina in the class of 2019, says he intends to keep playing football even after looking at the results of his brother’s autopsy.
“Did football kill Tyler? I don’t think so,” Tyler’s mom, Kym Hilinski said in a recent documentary. “Did he get CTE from (playing) football? Probably. Was that the only thing that contributed to his death? I don’t know.”
We’ll close on a positive note. Kent State wide receiver Antwan Dixon has been cleared to continue his football career 14 months after a bone marrow transplant that may have saved his life. As a junior in high school, Dixon was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare blood disorder in which the body stops making red blood cells.
Dixon had a promising freshman season in 2015, catching 26 passes for 355 yards. However, the disease became so bad that he had to leave school. He’s missed the past two seasons and received a bone marrow transplant from his father 14 months ago. But Dixon was back in school and around the team during spring practice and is now clear to play this season. New head coach Sean Lewis says he’s excited to see Dixon in practice during training camp. Oddly enough, Dixon has grown by nearly a full inch since 2015 and is now 5’8.5’’
“I’m Antwan Dixon again,” Dixon said earlier this month. “I’m normal again. It’s go time. People always talk about the risk and all that other stuff. But if you live your life with caution, you’re not living your life how you want to. Everything happens for a reason. You get through it. You’ve just got to keep pushing.”