O Brien Award Manziel Football

Manziel: life’s been ‘pure chaos,’ but ‘still the same person’

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As eloquently encapsulated by Ben late this past week, Johnny Manziel‘s life has been a whirlwind over the past year, from exiting spring practice trailing in the Texas A&M quarterback race to a summer arrest to claiming the starting job on the way to a historic Heisman Trophy as part of a stunning SEC debut to myriad off-field “hoopla.”

In particular, Manziel’s offseason since the Aggies’ 28-point thrashing of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl has been a seemingly daily source of contrived controversies.  Exhibit A: a Big 12 assistant stating during a January radio interview that “[i]f they can keep (Manziel) out of jail or keep him eligible, he’s gonna be pretty good.”  The bright spotlight shining on Manziel’s every move led A&M’s athletic director to have a sit-down with the player and his parents to discuss how to successfully navigate the sudden and ofttimes crushing trappings of fame.

For his part, though, the quarterback sees the same old Manziel he was prior to Johnny Footballing his way straight into the nation’s consciousness.

I still see myself as the same person I was before,” Manziel told ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit during an interview.

“We did a lot of great things. I’ve been so blessed to have the done the things I did individually. For me, I don’t see it that way. I still see myself as young, the same guy I was before I ever won the Heisman. Hopefully my friends still feel I’m the same way. I just want people to know I”m still the same person I’ve always been.”

Manziel did allow that his life has been “pure chaos” since winning the Heisman last December, admitting that he doesn’t understand people “freak[ing] out” upon meeting him. “I don’t get it. I don’t understand it,” Manziel said of the attention he’s garnered.

With another trip to a noted quarterback guru planned for the not-too-distant future, Manziel and his Aggie teammates opened spring practice Saturday with expectations as high as they’ve ever been.  Collectively, A&M will be looking to somehow improve upon an 11-win season in the school’s first season as a member of the SEC.  Individually, Manziel will be looking to become just the second player ever to repeat as a Heisman winner.

As should be expected when it comes to Manziel, however, there’s even drama attached to something that’s nearly a year down the road.  As Manziel will be a redshirt sophomore in 2013, and thus three years removed from high school, he would be eligible for the 2014 NFL draft.  The speculation is, given the recent success of non-traditional quarterbacks — i.e. not strictly pocket-passing QBs — in the NFL, Manziel might decide and may even be leaning toward early entry into the draft.

During the Herbstreit interview, Manziel didn’t exactly pour cold water on the rumor mill churnings.

“You never know how things might play out. If an opportunity comes to go to the NFL, you have to look at that just like you have to look at everything,” Manziel said. “For me, the NFL is the thing that’s always been, kind of somewhat like the Heisman, it’s been a dream as a kid to be able to have an opportunity to even be talked about being able to play in the NFL.

“For me I’m enjoying my time here for sure and if that comes calling, just like anybody else, the decision will have to be made.”

Manziel did state that he’s “very happy here and very happy with Coach [Kevin] Sumlin and in college football. I love it.”

How long he’ll remain in College Station, unfortunately, will likely be one of the overriding themes as Manziel attempts to replicate in 2013 an unprecedented 2012 season.

Colorado QB Sefo Liufau hurt as Washington takes halftime lead in Pac-12 title game

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 02:  Jake Browning #3 of the Washington Huskies runs with the ball against the Colorado Buffaloes during the Pac-12 Championship game at Levi's Stadium on December 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Colorado’s unlikely road to the Pac-12 title may have gotten a little bit harder on Friday night.

Buffaloes starting quarterback Sefo Liufau suffered a lower leg injury midway through the first quarter and missed most of the half as the unlikely South Division champions trailed Washington 14-7 in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Liufau eventually headed to the locker room before the whistle at the end of the second quarter but it’s possible he will return to the game.

Backup Steven Montez did lead the team down on a scoring drive shortly afterward (capped off by a Phillip Lindsay touchdown run) but was under pressure on nearly every snap by the Huskies’ pass rush.

His counterpart similarly didn’t have much luck against Colorado’s stingy defense either. Washington signal-caller Jake Browning finished the half just 4-of-12 for 38 yards but the Huskies didn’t bat much of an eye by doing what they wanted on ground — rushing for 148 yards behind the tough running of both Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman.

It should make for a fantastic second half from the Bay Area as both teams harbor hopes of making it into the College Football Playoff after capturing a Pac-12 title.

Row The Boat! Western Michigan captures MAC title over Ohio and states Group of Five case

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 02: Trevor Sweeney #25 of the Western Michigan Broncos celebrates causing a first half fumble on a kick return with teammate Leo Ekwoge #33 while playing the Ohio Bobcats during the MAC Championship on December 2, 2016 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Still perfect. Still rowing.

Western Michigan completed a dream undefeated regular season on Friday night and captured the school’s first MAC Championship since 1988 with a 29-23 win over Ohio.

The Broncos led from wire-to-wire on Friday night but struggled to complete drives with touchdowns against a stingy Bobcats defense on a night where they needed all the style points they could get. WMU is the College Football Playoff’s highest ranked Group of Five team but are in a neck-and-neck battle with Navy for a bid to the Cotton Bowl this season.

Even if the final margin wasn’t what head coach P.J. Fleck wanted, he nevertheless was excited at the way his team played defensively in holding Ohio to just 213 yards on the night. The normally prolific offense had their moments too, with quarterback Zach Terrell finishing with 301 yards, two scores and two interceptions.

One of those touchdown passes from Terrell went to wide receiver Corey Davis, who continued to press his case that he’s a first-round pick in the spring. The pass-catcher scored the team’s first touchdown back in the second quarter on a 70-yard scamper and the all-time leader in FBS receiving yardage finished his MAC career with 155 yards on nine catches.

The Bobcats tried to use their normal formula of running the ball and playing defense to control the clock but failed to do much of the former. The team finished with just 37 yards on the ground (and 251 overall) but did manage to make things interesting with three second half touchdowns and a late drive that could have taken the lead but instead ended with a game-sealing interception.

That wasn’t exactly the kind of high-flying #MACtion game the conference record 45,615 fans at Ford Field were looking for, with many of them sporting WMU colors as the school looks ahead to Sunday and whether or not they’re headed to a New Year’s Six Bowl at the end of the month.

On Friday night however, they just had to soak in the remarkable run the Broncos are on and row that boat all the way to a championship.

Report: Les Miles not in the mix in Purdue head coaching search

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 28:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers look on during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Tiger Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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One of the bigger storylines of this offseason is the annual coaching carousel and where former LSU head coach Les Miles will land.

The longtime coach has stated he wants to coach again in 2017, and has plenty of credentials — over 100 wins, SEC and national championships — but where he will find a fit is one of the bigger mysteries.

A lot of folks have noted that he could be in the running for the Purdue job (Miles is a Big Ten man at heart) but it appears that will not be the case. According to Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel, a source told him to cross Miles’s name off of Purdue’s list.

There are not a ton of big openings at the moment so with the Boilermakers reportedly off the table, it might be a long offseason for the former LSU coach. Western Kentucky’s Jeff Brohm and Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck have been the two biggest names mentioned with the Purdue search but it appears unlikely any movement happens before this weekend.

Thamel also mentions Miles could be in the mix at Houston, which would be fascinating given his years at Oklahoma State and over a decade spent a few hours East in Baton Rouge. Either way, it looks like the carousel has a few more spins left in it this month.

Colorado denies Mike MacIntyre is interviewing at Baylor this weekend

BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 19:  Head Coach Mike MacIntyre looks on from the field during the second quarter against the Washington State Cougars at Folsom Field on November 19, 2016 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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Colorado plays Washington on Friday in the Pac-12 Championship Game but that hasn’t stopped the coaching carousel from taking a break.

Rumors have circulated that Buffaloes head coach Mike MacIntyre is a candidate at Baylor and that he would be interviewing with the Bears either today or tomorrow. Colorado’s sports information director wanted no part of those reports continuing to flourish however, and took to Twitter to vehemently deny them.

That is… quite the denial.

At the same time, you can understand why Baylor wants to speak with MacIntyre give his credentials for turning around the program, his moral values and the fact that he was just named the Walter Camp Coach of the Year.

If it’s not meant to be however, the school will no doubt be turning to other candidates this weekend, possibly including fellow Pac-12 coach Sonny Dykes at Cal.