Texas A&M Spring Football Game

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.

Report: Ole Miss reportedly tried to bring Mississippi State down with it in NCAA probe

STARKVILLE, MS - NOVEMBER 28:  Damore'ea Stringfellow #3 of the Mississippi Rebels is pursued by Mark McLaurin #41 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the second quarter of a game at Davis Wade Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Starkville, Mississippi.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Ah, rivalries. The sibling-like struggle across the sport is what makes the college football world spin, and we got a great example of that in a report detailing Ole Miss’s response to its impending charges.

As we know, a key charge against Ole Miss was the Rebels’ attempted payment of a sum between $13,000 and $15,000 to a recruit that ultimately signed with Mississippi State, and the Rebels’ response was to turn around and bring their Egg Bowl rivals down with them.

According to Neal McCready’s inside-the-program accounting of the process for Rebel Grove, Ole Miss has a recording of Leo Lewis‘s mother asking other programs for money:

Ole Miss, per multiple sources, possesses a recording, and has given the SEC a copy, of Lewis’ mother asking Ole Miss for money and detailing incentives she received from other programs, including Mississippi State.

Considering the sourcing on this one, the phrase “including Mississippi State” is anything but an accident. It’s the college football version defense of the “Yes, Mom, I may have taken the booze from the cabinet, but Little Brother drank some of it, too!” defense.

To which the NCAA will likely respond: “But I haven’t spent four years investigating him.”

While the “they cheated too” last gasp of a defense likely won’t extend Ole Miss a stay of execution, you have to at least respect the Rebels for trying it.

Kliff Kingsbury completes Texas Tech staff with D-line hire

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 29:  Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first half at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 29, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Less than two weeks after a hole was created on his Texas Tech coaching staff, Kliff Kingsbury has made a move to fill it.

Tech confirmed early Thursday afternoon that Kingsbury has added Terrance Jamison as a Red Raiders assistant.  Specifically, Jamison will serve as the team’s defensive line coach.

Jamison replaces Kevin Patrick, who left earlier this month for the same job at North Carolina State after one season in Lubbock.

“We’re looking forward to adding Coach Jamison to our staff,” a statement from Kingsbury began. “He is someone that has built a strong reputation in the coaching community. He will be a tremendous asset on our defensive staff as well as in recruiting.”

The past three seasons, Jamison was the line coach at Florida Atlantic.  That was his first on-field job at the FBS level.

He’s also been a graduate assistant or quality control coach at Cal and alma mater Wisconsin.

“My family and I are grateful for the opportunity to join Coach Kingsbury’s staff,” Jamison said. “I’m excited about the potential of the defensive line group and working with (defensive coordinator David) Gibbs. I look forward to jumping right in and getting started with spring practices next week.”

Tennessee adds future home-and-home with BYU

KNOXVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 10: Rajion Neal #20 of the Tennessee Volunteers runs into the end zone with an eight-yard touchdown reception in the first overtime against the Missouri Tigers at Neyland Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Missouri won 51-48 in four overtimes. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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At the moment, BYU is looking at one hellacious start to the 2019 season.

Thursday afternoon, BYU announced tat it has added a future home-and-home series with Tennessee.  The Volunteers will serve as the host for a Sept. 7, 2019, matchup at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, with the second game set for Sept. 1 or 2, 2023, at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.

The 2019 game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.

“There’s something about those orange and white checkerboard end zones that shouts ‘Tradition!’,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a statement. “When the opportunity to play a series with Tennessee presented itself, we didn’t blink. They’re a storied football program with a winning tradition, national championships, a classic stadium, incredible fans and hall of fame coaches.

“It will be a great experience to visit SEC country and play in Neyland Stadium, and later host Tennessee in Provo.”

BYU will kick off the 2019 season against Utah, followed by games against Tennessee, USC and Washington the next three weeks.  They also have a pair of mid-October games against Washington State and Boise State.

UT’s other non-conference games that season include Georgia State, Chattanooga and UAB.

Fighting Illini live up to nickname as Lovie Smith calls early end to practice amidst fisticuffs

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 01: Head coach Lovie Smith of the Illinois Fighting Illini looks over the field against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Illinois 31-16. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
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Lovie Smith is not a big fan of fighting amongst his Illinois players, a lesson he shared with his aptly nicknamed Fighting Illini squad Wednesday evening.

According to the Decatur Herald & Review, Illinois’ spring practice session yesterday came to an abrupt and premature end after a fight between players broke out.  The names of those involved in the fisticuffs are not known as the media hadn’t been permitted to view practice.

From the Herald & Review‘s report:

…a source said Smith wanted to send a strong message about how he hates fighting and considers it an inexcusable transgression that robs the rest of the team of a chance to concentrate on getting better.

The field was cleared at about 5:35 p.m., nearly an hour before practice was scheduled to end. The players were sent to the locker room and the field was quickly cleared of equipment. Reporters were told there would be no interviews and were told to vacate the Memorial Stadium facility.

The Illini, which finished 3-9 in their first season under Smith last year, kicked off spring practice feb. 14 and will conclude it March 10 with the annual spring game.