Ricky Williams

Ricky Williams gave first-place Heisman vote to Te’o, not Manziel


And before you ask, yes, it’s a ssslllooowww news day.

In becoming the first (redshirt) freshman to claim the Heisman Trophy in the 78 years of the prestigious award, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel finished a comfortable distance ahead of runner-up Manti Te’o.  Manziel was given a first-place nod on 474 ballots, Te’o on 329.  One of the ones who opted for the Notre Dame linebacker?  A certain former Texas Longhorn.

During a radio interview earlier this week and by way of the Dallas Morning News, Heisman winner and ex-UT running back Ricky Williams acknowledged that he Te’o and Manziel 1-2, in that order, on his Heisman ballot.  As a former winner, Williams is given the opportunity to vote on the award annually.

While Williams’ “snub” of a player from an in-state rival may stir up some in Aggie Nation, Williams’ response to a “second-guess” question was immensely more interesting and enlightening.

As you have no doubt heard, Te’o was embroiled in a bit of controversy last month as it came to light that he was the victim of an online hoax involving in part a “dead girlfriend.”  That emotional subplot — Te’o playing the majority of the season through the grief of losing his girlfriend (fake) and beloved grandmother (real) — was one of the myriad storylines heading into the New York City ceremony and was a significant reason according to many that the defensive player was even in the Heisman discussion.

When asked if he would still give Te’o his vote for the Heisman if he knew then what he knows now, Williams was unequivocal that he still would’ve thrown his first-place support to Te’o.

“I wouldn’t have,” Williams said when asked if he would’ve changed his vote. “I was watching that crap on TV. I don’t really watch the news that much, but it was on every day. Finally, when it got to Kathie Lee and Hoda [on the Today Show], I was like, what’s going on with this stuff? I didn’t get what the big deal was.

“To me, it’s like people are surprised that athletes are strange. Do you guys know what we do? Especially football players. To play football in the NFL, you have to be a little bit strange. Otherwise you would’ve given up a long time ago.”

Being Ricky Williams, he’s certainly qualified when it comes to the nature of being a bit strange.

Regardless, good for him.  Yeah, he’ll take some grief from Aggie fans, but he voted for Te’o based on the player’s on-field accomplishments (we think).  The fact that Te’o was duped has nothing to do with the linebacker leading the Irish to a perfect season and a spot in the BCS title game.  He may have been exposed against Alabama — who isn’t these days? — but his play through the first 12 games was very much Heisman worthy, as Williams and 328 voters would attest.

Steve Spurrier discusses retirement; Gamecocks name Shawn Elliott interim coach

Steve Spurrier

Odds are pretty good Steve Spurrier has coached his final game as the Head Ball Coach, but Spurrier let it be known he is not going to go away quite as easily as you might think. Spurrier addressed the media today as South Carolina made its transition between coaches official. Spurrier noted he is resigning as head coach, but he is not necessarily retiring. As previously reported, Shawn Elliott will take on the role as interim head coach of the Gamecocks effective immediately.

The first thing Spurrier wants to remind everybody is he is not retiring. This is simply a resignation from his current position. Spurrier left the door open to possible options down the road for him in his post-coaching career. The idea of Spurrier walking away from the football world never to be heard from again is a startling one, so it is good to know he is not going to let that happen.

“College football is a game of recruiting, as well know,” Spurrier said when assessing why it was right for him to leave his job now. “That’s another reason I need to move on. I don’t know if coaching is completely over or not. It is fun being on a team. I might be a consultant for someone. I doubt if I’ll be a head coach again, but who knows?”

Spurrier said he realized Sunday the time to walk away was now and explained he always knew he would need to step aside the moment he saw himself holding the program back. That echoes the sentiment he has shared over the years, especially when asked about coaches like Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden as they each got up in the years. This season South Carolina is off to a 2-4 start, so the writing was on the wall for Spurrier, who also said it was in the best interests for all if an inevitable change was handled immediately.

“We’ve slipped. It’s my fault. I’m the head coach,” Spurrier said of South Carolina’s recent struggles.”We haven’t lost it. We’ve got a dang good team.”

“Our team is not in shambles despite what some might say,” Elliott said when he was given a chance to speak to the media. “We’re going to do everything we can to make the University of South Carolina proud of this football program.”

Elliott will now have the rest of the season to show what he can do as a head coach, and he knows this will be a bit of an open audition for the job as South Carolina starts searching for its next head coach.

Mark Dantonio quickly tosses aside South Carolina discussion

Mark Dantonio

Michigan State has become a national power under the coaching of Mark Dantonio. The grizzled and confident coach has put together a master plan in East Lansing and has taken the Spartans to the top of the Big Ten along the way, capturing a Big Ten title and victories in the Cotton Bowl and Rose Bowl as well as in-state dominance over the Michigan Wolverines. Danotnio is preparing his Spartans to take on the Wolverines this week, but with the new vacancy opening up at South Carolina following the sudden retirement of Steve Spurrier, Dantonio has already been presented with the question about his thoughts on coaching at South Carolina.

He did not seem all that interested in discussing the vacancy when meeting with Michigan State media this morning.

“Coach Spurrier’s had an outstanding career there, it’s alma mater, and we’re here to talk about Michigan,” Dantonio said when asked about it today. Video below from the Big Ten Network

Dantonio played defensive back for the Gamecocks in the mid 1970s, which helps make Dantonio an interesting name to mention in any coaching future discussion out of Columbia. While Dantonio may have played at South Carolina for Jim Carlen, Dantonio grew up in Ohio and has coached the bulk of his career within Ohio and the Big Ten. He is also one win away from picking up his 100th career coaching victory, 81 of which have come at Michigan State.