Texas A&M finally gets behind Manziel for Heisman, but is it enough?

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Earlier this week, the New York Times wrote an article about Texas A&M’s lack of official Heisman publicity for quarterback Johnny Manziel. That’s understandable to a degree. Manziel’s a redshirt freshman that only recently — meaning after this past Saturday’s win over Alabama — launched into the legitimate, end-of-season Heisman talk. He’s not even allowed to talk to the media.

It’s no coincidence that Manziel’s not currently favored to win the award either. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein holds that distinction according to Bovada, and right or wrong, Klein’s going to have a better opportunity to seal up the Heisman with a season-ending game (on the last weekend of the season) against rising Texas with a BCS championship spot on the line. Manziel, on the other hand, finishes the season against Missouri with nothing else to play for other than another win.

Those are the politics of the Heisman — part of them, anyway — and although A&M previously did nothing in the way promoting Manziel outside of trying to trademark the nickname  “Johnny Football”, they’re certainly playing the Heisman game now. The A&M athletic department has an official Heisman website for Manziel and released a promo video Friday (with hashtag and everything) which you can view below.

“Johnny Manziel is most dynamic player in college football this season,” the video description reads. “He’s broken the 43-year-old SEC record for total yardage in a game – twice. Through just 10 games, he’s thrown for more yards than Tim Tebow & Troy Smith had in their respective Heisman seasons, and he’s on pace to break Cam Newton’s SEC total offense record – even though he will play in one fewer game.

“Without a doubt, Johnny ‘Football’ Manziel is best candidate for this year’s Heisman Trophy Award.”

Is it too little too late? Possibly. Mold the statistics however you want, this Heisman race could easily go to four or five individuals (I would personally include Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, USC receiver Marqise Lee and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in the discussion) and there are still three weekends left in the regular season to sort it all out. There’s no Cam Newton this year.

The good news for Manziel is that the Heisman is supposed to go to the “most outstanding” player in college football, not the best player on the best team or the individual with the most impressive stat line. Conversely, the bad news for Manziel is that “most outstanding” means something different to every Heisman voter, and that’s not even taking regional biases into consideration.

Arkansas State stadium expansion includes pair of waterfalls

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The college athletics’ arms race of the past few decades has produced a number of unique designs when it comes to various stadiums and other football-centric facilities. Just about everybody is trying to hang their hat on something new and different to set themselves apart from the crowd and that ethos is seemingly creeping into just about every design element in any new building across the country.

Arkansas State appears to be the latest program to go in this direction and, based on new renderings of a north end zone project for Centennial Bank Stadium that were released on Thursday, the school is perfectly content to ignore TLC’s advice and start chasing actual waterfalls.

“This project will allow us to attract the top students in the country and provide first-class services to develop our students on and off the playing surfaces,” athletic director Terry Mohajir said in a statement on the school’s website for the project. “Additionally, we’ve created a unique feature to pay homage to the great state of Arkansas, the Natural State.”

This is far from the only water feature to be incorporated into a stadium in recent years (Jacksonville’s EverBank Field — home to the annual Florida-Georgia game — has a pool after all) but is a little bit outside the box for a smaller FBS school’s stadium. The two waterfalls are set to be placed on either side of the north end zone grandstand and include a new outdoor premium seating area as well. Also included in the project are a new weight room, a training/rehabilitation area, new football locker room, position meeting rooms, a players’ lounge, academic rooms and team-theater meeting area.

No cost breakdown or timeline were given but safe to say the former will involve millions of dollars and the latter will result in several years passing before the water is flowing in Jonesboro.

Virginia stays in-house to fill coaching void

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Bronco Mendenhall didn’t have to look far to find someone to fill the hole on his Virginia coaching staff.

The football program announced in a press release that Mendenhall has promoted Vic So’oto (pictured, No. 37) to defensive line coach.  Last season, his first with the Cavaliers, So’oto, who played his college football for Mendenhall at BYU from 2005-10, served as a graduate assistant.

So’oto replaces Ruffin McNeill, who left Charlottesville earlier this month for a spot on Lincoln Riley‘s staff at Oklahoma.

“Vic was Ruffin’s understudy for the last year-and-a-half,” Mendenhall said in a statement. “He was my very first commitment at BYU when I became the head coach. He was a very good player for us and someone who has experience playing in the NFL.

“He’s very passionate. He is very knowledgeable about defensive football and our system. He knows the defensive line play in our system, inside and out. He’s a great teacher and fits perfectly and seamlessly into this position because he was taught and mentored by Ruff this past year. Our defensive front won’t miss a beat.”

Kerry Coombs adds assistant DC to Ohio State coaching responsibilities

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Heading into the 2017 season, Kerry Coombs will have an additional title on his coaching résumé.

Ohio State announced Thursday that Coombs has been promoted to assistant coordinator, defense, by Urban Meyer.  Coombs will retain his titles of special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach as well.

Greg Schiano will remain in his role as defensive coordinator.

“Kerry Coombs is absolutely deserving of this promotion to assistant coordinator, defense,” the head coach said in a statement. “He is an outstanding coach, instructor and mentor to the young men in this program. He is one of the best recruiters in the nation. He is incredibly loyal, and we at Ohio State are very fortunate that he loves this school and loves being a Buckeye.”

Coombs will be entering his sixth season with the Buckeyes, one of two assistants, the other being wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who have been with Meyer all five of his seasons in Columbus.

The past two years, three of Coombs’ corners — Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley in 2017, Eli Apple in 2016 — have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Another, Bradley Roby, was taken in the first round of the 2014 draft.

Frank Kush, winningest coach in Arizona State history, dies at age 88

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The most famous head coach in the history of Arizona State athletics has passed.

The university confirmed Thursday that the legendary Frank Kush died earlier in the day of unknown causes.  He was 88 years old.

After finishing his collegiate playing career at Michigan State and a stint in the Army, Kush’s first job in coaching was as the line coach for the Sun Devils in 1955.  When Dan Devine left to become the head coach at Missouri in December of 1957, Kush was promoted to head coach.

Kush spent the next 21½ years as the head coach at ASU, leading the Sun Devils to a 176-54-1 mark that included seven Western Athletic Conference championships.  The wins are the most in the football program’s history; in fact, he’s the only coach in the school’s history who has accumulated more than 60 wins during his time in Tempe.

From 1969-73, Kush’s ASU squads won five straight WAC titles.  They lost just six games total in that span against 51 wins.  In 1975, they went a 12-0, capping off the second perfect season under Kush with a win over Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.

In part because of Kush’s on-field success with the Sun Devils, ASU began play in the then-Pac-12 conference in 1978.

Kush’s tenure at the school ended in controversy, however, as he was fired in the middle of the 1979 season after a player accused the coach of mental and physical abuse in a September lawsuit.  The coach was ultimately fired because the university accused him of hindering the investigation into the allegations.