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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.

Sun Belt adds affiliation with Arizona Bowl

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The Sun Belt is consolidating its membership to the south and east, but its postseason profile has struck far out west.

The conference has announced an affiliation with the Arizona Bowl, bringing the New Orleans-based league’s bowl roster to five.

The inaugural Arizona Bowl infamously could not find two conferences to pit against each other, so Nevada and Colorado State faced off in an all-Mountain West affair. That embarrassing scenario will be avoided moving forward as the Sun Belt will play opposite the Mountain West from 2016-19.

The 2016 Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl will be played on Dec. 30. Time is still to be determined, but organizers think an afternoon kick will lead to a better experience. “If you were at the game last year, the suites were packed,” bowl organizer Ali J. Farhang told the Tucson Citizen. “It was warm and comfortable. If we can get that kind of environment in the stadium too …”

The 2015 game kicked at 5:30 p.m. local time, with a temperature of 44 degrees. This year’s game will kick off between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

As recruits jump ship, Baylor WR KD Cannon, RB Terence Williams stick with Bears

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One of the more interesting subplots to follow as Baylor moves into the post-Art Briles era will be the reaction from recruits and current players.

Speculation exists the NCAA will — or at least should — allow current Bears out of their scholarships without penalty, similar to how the NCAA treated Penn State players in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. But, for now, the NCAA has offered no such provision, and as such players are still bound to remain at Baylor or sit out a year.

On Friday night, wide receiver K.D. Cannon announced he will remain in Waco for what will most assuredly be his final season as a collegian. A rising junior, Cannon caught 50 passes for 868 yards and six touchdowns, and figures to gobble up much of the 74 grabs, 1,363 yards and 20 touchdowns Corey Coleman left behind.

Running back Terence Williams made a similar proclamation as well on Friday. A rising sophomore, Williams rushed 88 times for 556 yards and three touchdowns in 2015.

While current players are compelled to remain in Waco, recruits are under no such obligation. An already light 2017 class has seen two defections with decommitments from three-star offensive lineman Jayden Peevy and four-star tight end Kedrick James, a Waco product.

It may also be a matter of time before the prize of this year’s class, four-star quarterback Kellen Mond, succumbs to an avalanche of pressure to leave as well.

Caught somewhere in between the current and future Bears is the class of 2016, players who have inked themselves to Baylor but have yet to enroll in the school. The top two players from the Bears’ 17th-ranked class have publicly wavered on their desire to play for Baylor. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement; one player has wavered, and one has outright refused to report.

Four-star offensive lineman Patrick Hudson, the second-ranked offensive lineman in Texas, tweeted Friday he is reconsidering his stance with Baylor.

Meanwhile, four-star running back Kameron Martin will not enroll according to Max Olson of ESPN.

Whether Baylor grants Martin’s release will perhaps set a precedent for other 2016 Bears who may be inclined to join Martin but have not spoken out yet.

One thing is certain, though: the mess in Waco is only just beginning to sort itself out.

ACC sees revenues spike nearly $100 million in 2014-15

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Here’s how wacko, bonkers, crazy college sports has gotten in the past half-decade, and more specifically the money taken in by the SEC and Big Ten: the ACC saw its revenue jump by nearly $100 million in 2014-15 — and they’re worried about falling behind.

Whereas a decade ago simply making $100 million as a conference would’ve been cause for a clicking of heels in Greensboro, the ACC’s jump from $302.3 million in 2013-14 to $403.1 million in 2014-15, according to tax documents obtained by USA Today, is met by concern of just how in the heck they’re going to match the SEC’s $527.4 million and the Big Ten’s $448.8 million without what those two leagues have — a TV network.

The ACC has seen revenues jump nearly $170 million in two years, and the 2014-15 jump was thanks in large part to a $30 million exit fee played by Maryland in leaving for the Big Ten.

Commissioner John Swofford saw his pay grow along with his conference’s, from $2.1 million and change to just under $2.7 million.

The ACC was the final Power 5 to release its financials for the 2014-15 fiscal year, and with all five out we now have a full picture of how the schools stack up on a per school basis (full shares only):

  1. SEC: $32.6 million*
  2. Big Ten: $32.4 million
  3. ACC: $25.8 million*
  4. Pac-12: $25.1 million
  5. Big 12: $23.4 million^

*  – Splitting difference between highest and lowest distributions, as listed by USA Today
^ – Does not include third-tier payments such as Longhorn Network

Michigan spent nearly $350,000 on spring break trip to IMG Academy

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 31: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines looks on during warm-ups before the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on October 31, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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When Jim Harbaugh goes on vacation, he does it big.

The world’s most notable khaki pants aficionado went to France last summer and, as was well-publicized at the time, brought the entire Michigan roster to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., for a spring break football trip.

According to the Detroit News, that trip cost Michigan’s football program nearly $350,000.

That $348,553 figure represents nearly 10 percent of the entire athletics budget at Coppin State, according to the most recent figures on record from USA Today, the lowest in Division I.

Michigan, meanwhile, spent over $151 million on athletics — and that figure will only go up considering the month-long satellite camp tour Harbaugh has planned for his staff in June.