Talkin' 'Bout Spring Practice: Saban happy with Kiffin; Spurrier still going strong

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Steve Spurrier signed a contract extension in January to keep him at South Carolina through 2018. (John Raoux/AP)

Spring practice notes: Steve Spurrier still going strong, Nick Saban on Lane Kiffin, and more

With spring football taking place across the country, Campus Union has decided to round up all of the important news and notes from each week in practice.

Spring practices are drawing to a close, and just three teams are playing their spring game in the month of May. Spring football may be behind us, but that just brings us one step closer to the real deal.

• SI's Andy Staples had an update on Steve Spurrier, who is coaching well into his 60s despite once saying he had no plans to do that.

As he travels the state meeting the Gamecocks faithful, Spurrier gives each group the same poll. He lists four of South Carolina's victories from the 2013 season and asks those in attendance to yell the loudest for their favorite. The crowds always pick the same game. They did in Conway, and they did clear across the state in Greenwood the previous night. And their answer explains an awful lot about why Spurrier is still coaching at South Carolina instead of playing golf four or five times a week. [...]

Of course it was Clemson. Both crowds, Greenwood and Conway, went nuts when Spurrier mentioned South Carolina's rival from the Upstate. The Gamecocks looked up at the Tigers -- geographically and metaphorically -- for a long, long time. How thoroughly has Clemson dominated historically? South Carolina could win the next 20 matchups in a row and the Tigers would still have a four-game lead in the all-time series. For Gamecocks fans, who suffered through more than 100 seasons before their team notched its first bowl win and kept faithfully showing up, 11 wins and a No. 4 ranking in the final AP Poll is nice. But beating Clemson every year is still enough.

• Clemson picked up a quarterback in fifth-year transfer David Olson from Stanford. While Olson won't exactly be in line for playing time, veterans from a school like Stanford are typically a net gain overall. Olson didn't get much playing time for the Cardinal, and he'll be behind Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson, but with Chad Kelly's dismissal, there was an opening there.

• SI's Stewart Mandel tried to answer the question of why the College Football Playoff committee is deciding to release a weekly poll (I mean, obviously, aside from the fact they want one to complement SI's Power Rankings). We don't know enough yet about how the committee will operate or why they'll make the decisions they end up making, but those gaps in knowledge are replaced with fear right now – fear of what could go wrong and of the horror stories our minds tend to invent out of paranoia.

Says Mandel:

To be clear, I've long been a pro-selection committee guy. I believe it to be a far more enlightened method than asking 120-plus coaches and sportswriters to hurriedly throw together a Top 25 ballot by early Sunday morning. Committee members have been given iPads for the specific purpose of watching as many games as possible (they'll have access both to the TV broadcast and coaches' film cut-ups). A third-party company is currently developing a data platform that will provide them with "countless pieces of statistical information for every FBS team." They'll have an extra 48 hours to devote to the task.

And while fans will likely hold their conspiracy theories about potential biases, I have enough familiarity with the basketball process to know it's virtually impossible for any one member to brainwash the other 12 into voting a certain way. The recusal policy released Wednesday does not specifically preclude Tom Osborne from discussing and voting on former Big 12 nemesis Texas, but the man has a pretty decent track record of integrity. I'm not too worried.

"We've got a lot of precedent," said Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick, who serves with the commissioners on the CFB's Management Committee. "We have all of our sports with one exception, postseasons determined by selection committees. We have a comfort level and experience level."

The difference is, all those other selection committees don't sit down to produce their bracket having already done so for six straight weeks. Just like the AP or coaches poll, it's hard to imagine last week's ballot won't impact the following week's.

• They're still in the honeymoon period, but Alabama coach Nick Saban has liked what he's seen from new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin so far. From Coaching Search:

“Lane did a fantastic job with our staff and our players,” Saban said. “Both parties have a lot of respect for his knowledge, his enthusiasm, experience. I think they respect him as a teacher. He did a really good job with the staff and the players. Any time you make a change, everybody’s got to make little adjustments. We tried to keep some of the things we’re doing and allow Lane the freedom to do some things that he wants to do. I think everybody’s bought into that, and it’s worked out really, really well.

“I think he’s a great asset to our staff, in terms of his knowledge and experience. It’s been great for me, too, to have a guy that’s been a head coach before and had some of the issues and problems we have. I really feel good about his addition to our staff.”

Oregon State's Mike Riley discussed the end of spring practice on the Pac-12 teleconference this week, and the Oregonian's Gina Mizell rounded up his answers, including how he feels about transfer Luke Del Rio's immediate eligibility:

I think it was just one of those things that helped us immediately at the competitive depth for a backup position there. We liked Luke a lot in high school, and so then to get him a year later and then to have him be eligible I think just kind of brightens our picture as far as the competition for the backup spot here to Sean and a guy that we really like.

Tennessee took a small hit when fifth-year senior JaRon Toney decided to leave the football team. He had 79 career tackles and will be pursuing a non-football career.

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