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.

Pair of Alabama defenders undergo surgery after Tide’s spring game

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Alabama’s spring game wrapped up on Saturday and with it, the last of the Crimson Tide’s spring practices. While that means the coaching staff is free to fly across the country to visit recruits during the evaluation period, it also results in several players going under the knife to correct injuries in order to be back by fall camp.

Two of those players are starting cornerback Anthony Averett and (likely starting) linebacker Christian Miller, both of whom underwent sports hernia surgery this week according to AL.com.

The report states that Averett played with the hernia most of last season while the Tide marched their way to the national title game. Miller was one of the stars of the show on Saturday during Alabama’s spring game, recording two sacks while dealing with the injury.

Both are expected to be fully healthy for camp in August as Nick Saban and company vie for yet another conference title and berth in the College Football Playoff.

SEC commissioner hints at review of rules regarding alcohol sales in football stadiums

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The prohibition of alcohol at football stadiums has undergone one interesting about-face in college athletics the past 15 years or so. While various suite levels at stadiums across the country have generally had access to a few adult beverages, there’s been some very large programs that have opened up the taps in the general seating areas the last few years.

From West Virginia to Texas to Ohio State, more and more programs are selling beer and/or liquor across the board and raking in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in added revenue while doing so. One conference that isn’t jumping in on that trend however has been the SEC, which has numerous restrictions on where those types of beverages can be sold. That may be about to change in the near future however according to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.

“At some point, I’m relatively certain, there will be further review of the prohibition,” said Sankey on Monday, per The Tuscaloosa News. “That doesn’t predict any outcome.”

While you may think that the league is close to opening the floodgates on alcohol being served at stadiums across the conference, you probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions on the matter as Sankey seemed to hold his ground and stand firm on keeping things as is right now.

“The conference has a policy that says that we’re not selling alcohol in the general seating area,” he added. “Now, you can agree or disagree with that policy, but that’s the policy. The basis for changing that or maintaining it is one that’s developed in the conversation.

“I think we were at like 98 percent ticket sales in football… So is that one-percent margin a trade that we’re going to make?”

It’s no secret that of-age fans can easily find a few beverages at SEC tailgates prior to games nowadays but it seems momentum is slowing building in the conference to allow fans to buy some during a game. It might not happen anytime in the very near future but the conversation is certainly going to keep popping up each year with many more schools across the country jumping in on this trend.

QB Malik Zaire reportedly sets timetable for transfer decision while adding Harvard to the mix

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While we don’t yet know where former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire is transferring to, we might have an idea of when he plans on making a move this offseason.

Per Orangebloods.com’s Anwar Richardson, the signal-caller has zeroed in on the end of May for an announcement on his new school in a timetable that coincides with the Irish’s graduation ceremonies. Perhaps just as interesting is the fact that there may also be a new school in the mix and it’s known for being a powerhouse of a different kind away from the gridiron.

“In addition, I was told a new school is in the mix. Zaire is still considering Texas, Wisconsin and Florida, and the grad transfer quarterback has added Harvard to his short list. It remains unclear how serious Zaire is about playing Ivy League football. If he does go that route, Harvard would be his landing spot.”

The Ivy League power is an interesting new destination for Zaire and could be a pretty good backup option given what’s going on at his other finalists.

While Texas and Wisconsin are both on his shortlist, both the Longhorns and Badgers return their starting quarterbacks from last season in Shane Buechele and Alex Hornibrook. Richardson reports that Zaire wants to start in 2017 and not hold a clipboard but he is still keeping his options opens when it comes to the thin depth charts at the position in both Austin and Madison.

Complicating things is Florida, which should be a prime landing spot for Zaire were it not for an SEC rule passed last year that is preventing him from transferring him there this offseason. The league is set to talk about changes to that rule at their spring meetings in Destin, Fla. but it remains unclear if the QB will wait and see before making a decision (and it’s entirely possible the SEC keeps things as they are).

Either way, the former Irish starter does not appear to be lacking options when it comes to the graduate transfer market.

Tennessee hires College Football Playoff CFO for administrative role

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Tennessee might not be a favorite to make the College Football Playoff in 2017 but the school is doing their best to bring a little bit of the sport’s postseason to Knoxville.

Athletic director John Currie announced on Tuesday that the Vols would be hiring the College Football Playoff’s Chief Financial Officer Reid Sigmon as Tennessee’s new Executive Associate Athletics Director and Chief Operating Officer. The hire isn’t too surprising considering the two worked together for several years at Kansas State in very similar roles.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Reid Sigmon to the Tennessee Athletics family,” Currie said in a statement. “He has earned national credibility as part of a visionary leadership group creating the College Football Playoff organization for the last four years, and his tremendous integrity and understanding of college athletics make him a perfect addition to our Tennessee leadership team.”

Sigmon served in a variety of roles in college athletics as well as the NFL before eventually landing with the College Football Playoff. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that he starts at Tennessee on May 15 with a salary of $285,000 per year.