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Third Idaho football assistant leaves

John McDonell, a Spokane native and the offensive line coach at Idaho last year, has left the Vandals' football program for the same position at Tulane University in New Orleans. Tulane announced the hiring in a release over the weekend.

Read on for more on the continued shake-up of the Vandals' coaching staff.


McDonell is the third offensive assistant that has departed coach Robb Akey's staff in the last two months. Offensive coordinator Steve Axman retired and wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Luther Carr was apparently let go.

Akey has not returned multiple phone calls left by The Spokesman-Review since Axman's retirement on Dec. 12.

Last year McDonell replaced Dan Finn, who left to become the O-line coach at San Diego State. McDonell coached at Memphis in 2010 and Bowling Green in 2009. Tulane will be his fourth stop in four years — and it will be farther away from his roots.

In an October interview with the S-R, the Gonzaga Prep grad and former longtime Washington State assistant said he and his family “were very happy to find a way back home.” McDonell said his mother still lives in Spokane and other family live in western Washington.

“In this business you have to have a wonderful wife and kids, and I do,” McDonell said at the time. “My wife Mindy and (children) Michael and Megan. And this is a chance to get back closer to family.”

McDonell also praised Akey and his staff. “I just feel so fortunate to be with him because I feel obviously a great fan. But he’s just a wonderful man, just a wonderful head coach, a great guy to work for.”

With signing day on Wednesday, Akey will address the media shortly after noon. On his Twitter page — with recruiting winding down — Akey posted this message: “It was a great weekend for the Vandals, can't wait till Wednesday!!”

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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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