Kevin Sumlin’s support helped overturn Manziel’s suspension

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In the wake of Johnny Manziel‘s tweet earlier this month in which he wrote that he “can’t wait to leave College Station,” a report surfaced that the Texas A&M quarterback had been suspended for the 2012 season following an offseason arrest.  That suspension, the report stated, had the quarterback seriously considering a transfer.

It never got to that point, obviously, as the punishment was overturned as part of the school’s appeals process and Manziel went on to win the Heisman Trophy in his first season as a starter.  Not so unexpectedly, his head coach played a role in getting the suspension overturned.

The Daily Oklahoman writes that “the overturn came, in part, because of the backing of Aggie coach and former OU assistant Kevin Sumlin, who wrote a letter in support of Manziel during the appeal process.”  According to the coach, the letter of support didn’t come out of fear of losing a starter — Manziel was behind Jameill Showers entering summer camp and wasn’t named the starter until two weeks before the season opener — but rather due to the fact that he was taking steps to comply with the other internal punishment meted out and taking those steps seriously.

“A lot has been said about discipline, but he went through all that, which is a little bit more than people think,” Sumlin told the paper at a golf outing in Edmond, Okla., Tuesday. “That’s not a public deal, it’s just what I ask him to do. He did all those things and his parents were involved in all of that. So for him to go through that, then go through camp and those types of things and earn the job, that’s what’s brought him to where he is now.”

Suffice to say, the overturn might have been the Aggies’ biggest win in a highly-successful debut season in the SEC, but the road hasn’t gotten any easier for the player or the program in the offseason.  Manziel has been connected to several mostly overblown “controversies” the past few months, but Sumlin said the fact that his rock-star player is back on campus and with his teammates preparing for summer camp is helping to calm what’s been an offseason full of rough water.

“It’s been really hard,” Sumlin said when asked about the past six months or so for Manziel. “You know, he’s a young guy. And because of that, he is who he is and he’s made some mistakes. Everybody knows that. But right now, I think for him to be back, we have summer school going, we have fall camp coming up. Him being back with his teammates, that’s a good deal, good for him.”

Thanks to the constant tumult, there might not be a person in the country more anxious to get the 2013 season started than Manziel.  Well, other than Sumlin and his coaching staff, of course.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.