Johnny Manziel

Johnny Football breaking the Heisman rules as a freshman

42 Comments

It’s time to come clean.

I didn’t believe Texas A&M would come close to the kind of success it’s having in its inaugural SEC season, and I certainly wasn’t “all in” on Johnny Manziel as a legitimate Heisman candidate — at least not in the sense of the redshirt freshman bringing home the hardware in December.

Think about that for a minute as the shock of a 29-24 win for No. 15 A&M in Tuscaloosa over the top-rankeddefending BCS champions  begins to subside: a redshirt freshman — hell, a freshman of any classification — winning the Heisman.

Seems unlikely, doesn’t it? Impossible even, because Manziel’s not Matt Barkley or Montee Ball. You know, guys who were supposed to be receiving first and second-place Heisman votes just a few months ago. Familiar names. Even West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith had the Heisman wrapped up and shipped to Morgantown in September before the postal service realized the Big 12 was having it re-routed.

Manziel’s not an upperclassman who has time to build his lore, either, although the legend of “Johnny Football” is at a fever pitch at the moment. In fact, Manziel’s freshman status means no media interviews, per Kevin Sumlin’s coaching policy. Just about everything that’s supposed to play a role in college football’s most prestigious individual award, Manziel doesn’t have.

But he does have the most important metric. He’s got game.

The Heisman is supposed to be awarded to the most outstanding player in collegiate football. There are some fine candidates this year. Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein are just some of the names that should under serious consideration. Barring injury or a complete end-of-season meltdown, it’s impossible not to add Manziel’s name to that list after putting on the show he did against Alabama, effectively putting the SEC’s BCS championship game streak on the line in the process.

Manziel’s numbers against the Tide were exemplary (345 total yards and two touchdowns) and his season statistics are equally as impressive (2,527 passing yards, 1014 rushing yards and 31 total touchdowns), but what held Manziel back from the likes of Klein and Barner were his struggles against Florida and LSU, two sound defenses in the SEC. To project that Manziel was going to somehow turn it around against Alabama was a stretch.

But Manziel did turn around. He turned around, evaded, ran into his own lineman and even fumbled the ball and recovered. And that was just on one touchdown pass to Ryan Swope to put the Aggies up 14-0 in the first quarter. Manziel is more than numbers. He’s theatre.

For that, he’ll get an invite to New York. Manziel may not win the Heisman, but he’ll get a lengthy look at becoming the first freshman to win the award. For all his showmanship, the one thing Johnny Football has showed the college football world is that there are no more rules for who qualifies as a Heisman candidate.

Alabama DL coach Bo Davis out after possible recruiting violation, report says

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 28:  Jonathan Allen #93, Tim Williams #56 and Rashaan Evans #32 of the Alabama Crimson Tide react after a defensive stop against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan Hare Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

As some of his pupils move on to greener pastures this weekend, it appears Alabama defensive line coach Bo Davis is on his way out of Tuscaloosa as well.

Andrew Bone and Aaron Suttles of the Tuscaloosa News reported Thursday evening Davis is expected to resign or be fired after the school has opened an inquiry into possible violations on the recruiting trail. The nature of the violations was not revealed, but the NCAA has made “multiple” investigations into the matter and Alabama has opened its own corresponding inquiry.

Davis is a longtime Saban lieutenant, first working under him with the Miami Dolphins, then following him to Tuscaloosa as part of Saban’s original Alabama staff. Davis left for Texas in 2010 and spent a year at USC before returning to the Tide in 2014.

Alabama’s defensive line was nothing short of outstanding last season, providing the bedrock to Saban’s fourth national champion. The Tide led the nation with 52 sacks, ranked fifth with 108 tackles for loss and posted a national-best 75.73 yards per game rushing defense.

Davis’s contract runs through 2017 and pays him $475,000 annually.

 

Report: Conference USA football could return to ESPN this fall

HUNTINGTON, WV - DECEMBER 06: Remi Watson #8, Kevin Rodriguez #35, and Stefan Houston #3 of the Marshall Thundering Herd take the field before their game against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Joan C. Edwards Stadium during the Conference USA championship game on December 6, 2014 in Huntington, West Virginia. The Thundering Herd defeated the Bulldogs 26-23. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Getty Images
2 Comments

It’s no secret that ESPN is the front door to the college sports world, and any league that doesn’t have a foothold on the Worldwide Leader faces a serious uphill climb for coverage. See: Conference USA.

C-USA currently splits its rights between Fox Sports 1, CBS Sports Network and the American Sports Network and, unless you happen to be a fan of one of the league’s 14 teams, you probably didn’t see a game before bowl season. But that could change soon.

The conference’s television deals expire at the end of June, and Harry Minium of the Virginian-Pilot reported ESPN has become a “late but serious bidder” for a portion of the C-USA package.

A change in partners would be well received by C-USA on two fronts. First, it’s ESPN. Second, the conference isn’t raking it in as is. Minium reported Old Dominion has planned for a drop in television revenue of $600,000 to $700,000 this fall — up from the originally anticipated fall of $500,000. And ODU only received $1 million last year to begin with. The drop can be attributed to the exodus of high-wattage programs — Houston, Memphis, East Carolina — to the AAC, allowing Fox and CBS to pay below the agreed amount. Exit fees had subsidized the loss in revenue, but those funds are running dry.

Conference USA declined to comment on the state of the negotiations, but five games have already been moved to weeknights — indicated back-channel negotiations are well under way.

That Old Dominion (and, presumably, other C-USA schools) could make only $300,000 on TV rights from an entire year is, in a word, shocking. In a world where the Big Ten could secure half a billion dollars over six years for half its package, this is a nice reminder that that world isn’t open to everyone.

LB Nick Holman makes ‘hard decision’ to transfer from USF

Nick Holman
Getty IMages
Leave a comment

A little over a week after the end of spring practice, USF has seen its depth at linebacker take a bit of a hit.

Calling it “a hard decision,” Nick Holman took to Twitter Wednesday night to announce that he has decided to transfer out of the Bulls football program and “pursue other opportunities” elsewhere. The linebacker gave no specific reason for his decision to transfer.

Barring something unforeseen, Holman would be forced t sit out the 2016 season if he moves on to another FBS program. He’d then have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

Holman came to USF as a three-star member of the Bulls’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 31 player at any position in the state of Alabama. After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Holman played in 11 games in 2015.

The Tampa Bay Times wrote that “Holman led the White team with five tackles in the April 16 Green and White intrasquad game, and was listed as the backup to senior Nigel Harris at weakside linebacker on the post-spring depth chart.”

In statement, SEC reaffirms league to rescind its satellite camp ban

Auburn v Mississippi State
1 Comment

The SEC had fought hard in pushing the NCAA’s Div. 1 Council to ban the practice of satellite camps, and then continued to push for The Association’s Board of Directors to reaffirm the ban.  In the end, though, that conference has taken the “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em” tack.

Shortly after the NCAA confirmed that its Board of Directors had, at least for the foreseeable future, rescinded the ban on coaches taking part in football camps outside of their regions, the SEC confirmed that it will be rescinding its own ban on the practice.  That rescinding follows through on the “threat” made last year by the conference that it would, essentially, unleash its football programs on the rest of the country if a ban wasn’t enacted.

The SEC’s lifting of the ban on such camps is not effective immediately; rather, it will take effect May 29.  After that date, as outgoing commissioner Mike Slive said in late May last year, “our folks will be free to fan out all over the country and have at it.”

In a statement, Slive’s replacement, Greg Sankey, lamented the lifting of the ban while at the same time reaffirmed that “SEC coaches will be allowed to engage in summer camps as a result of Conference legislation approved during the 2015 SEC Spring Meetings.”

Below is the entirety of Sankey’s statement.

While we are disappointed with the NCAA governance process result, we respect the Board of Directors’ decision and are confident SEC football programs will continue to be highly effective in their recruiting efforts.

“We continue to believe football recruiting is primarily an activity best-focused in high schools during the established recruiting calendar, which has provided opportunities for football prospective student-athletes from all across the country to obtain broad national access and exposure but with appropriate guidance from high school coaches, teachers and advisors that focuses on both their academic and athletic opportunities as they decide where they will play college football.