Johnny Manziel

Another day, another Manziel allegation connecting him to autograph signings


It had been a whole four days since anything related to the NCAA investigation of Johnny Manziel came up, so we were probably due.

ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported Monday night that the Heisman Trophy winner is connected to another pair of autograph sessions: one in South Florida after the BCS championship in January, and another one later that month in Houston. In all, OTL claims Manziel did six signings for three brokers in three states in less than a month, signing his name to various pieces of memorabilia a whopping 4,400 times.

Like all previous reports, there is no evidence of money being exchanged between Manziel and a broker. In fact, OTL’s latest piece never mentions Manziel receiving payments for the two newly reported sessions, in which he allegedly signed around 1,500 pieces of memorabilia per session.

But while trying to pin down a money trail remains an important part of investigating Manziel, it’s possible the redshirt sophomore could face consequences for violating another NCAA bylaw:, which requires a student-athlete to make every effort to stop the sale of products featuring his or her likeness. It may be a laughable rule, but it’s a rule nonetheless. Signing over 4,000 autographs in a month (or a even a modest 1,500 autographs) for multiple brokers (allegedly) would imply Manziel had absolutely no intention of preventing the sale of those items.

Manziel’s lawyers, as well as Texas A&M’s legal counsel, however, have a strong interest in doing so. OTL reports that multiple autographed Manziel items on eBay have been taken down via prompts from Manziel’s representation.

Even other programs not affected by the Manziel story are following suit. Last week, USC sent out a release stating it had sent a cease and desist letter for an autograph of wide receiver Marqise Lee that was for sale. Similarly, Ohio State and South Carolina announced that they had found no wrongdoing in the sale of autographs from Braxton Miller and Jadeveon Clowney, respectively.

Whether or not the NCAA finds any wrongdoing in Manziel’s case remains to be seen. There are other potential avenues by which the NCAA could find Manziel guilty of violating bylaws. For example, if Manziel’s friend and personal assistant did in fact negotiate, or attempted to negotiate, a signing deal for Manziel on his behalf, he could be considered an agent under the Cam Newton rule.

With multiple angles to the story, it’s quite possible an investigation of Manziel extends past preseason camp.

Not everybody seems happy about USC’s hiring of Clay Helton

Clay Helton

If there is one thing that can be said about USC hiring Clay Helton as head coach on a permanent basis, it is that it provides stability for the program moving forward. Current players have responded well to Helton. Future Trojans players are responding well to Helton on the recruiting trail. Former USC players? Well, that’s a different situation.

We saw some of this at Miami in recent years with former Hurricanes ripping now former head coach Al Golden. That was a bit of a different situation with Golden being a coach that went against the grain of all that was perceived to be representative of The U. Helton is different because he has been loyal to the program as an assistant coach during a turbulent time. He at least deserves respect of those following and those who have played for USC for that alone. The problem is Helton lacks the kind of appeal most wearing USC lenses expect from their coaching hire and it seems more likely to believe athletics director Pat Haden settled for Helton instead of being able to expand the coaching search and bring in a high-quality coach for the job.

There is one way to swing the emotions the other way for those unhappy with the decision. If USC beats Stanford to win the Pac-12 championship this week, that would be one step in the right direction for the Helton haters and the Haden skeptics (myself included). The pressure will be on more next season regardless of what happens this week in the Pac-12 championship game and whatever bowl game USC ends up playing. USC will be loaded with talent and will be a trendy pick to make a run in the Pac-12 and, perhaps, even the College Football Playoff.

USC names Clay Helton permanent head coach

Clay Helton

The top coaching vacancy in college football has been filled. USC has announced it will remove the interim tag from Clay Helton and make him the permanent head coach moving forward.

Helton has gone 5-2 since taking over the program following the dismissal of Steve Sarkisian as head coach. The most recent win this weekend against UCLA both snapped a three-game losing streak to the crosstown rival Bruins and clinched USC’s first trip to the Pac-12 championship game as Pac-12 South Division champions. Helton has been with the USC program since 2010 under various assistant roles. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2013 and named interim head coach that season following the firing of Lane Kiffin. He stayed on the staff following the hiring of Sarkisian from Washington.

Helton had become a clear player favorite in the program, as Helton calmed a troublesome environment of uncertainty in the middle fo the season and delivered a division championship. The only losses under Helton came on the road against Notre Dame in Helton’s first game as interim head coach and more recently at Oregon, a program that revived itself as well. If nothing else, Helton’s being named the head coach provides for some stability for the program, although there should be some questions moving forward whether it will be the right move or not in the long term. The USC job was thought to be the top job on the market and worthy of some high-caliber candidates. There had been rumblings USC reached out to Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, a former Oregon coach of course, but the odds Kelly was going to leave the Eagles on his own a year after getting general manager power were always low.

USC will continue to bring plenty of pressure to win, and win big. Helton will continue to guide a roster packed with talent and getting back to full strength after a stretch of sanctioned seasons. If Helton does not win, he will quickly enter the hot seat conversation.

USC plays Stanford for the Pac-12 championship this week.

Will Mark Richt coach again? “Oh yeah, no doubt”

Mark Richt

On Sunday the end of the line for Mark Richt at Georgia was finally reached. The Bulldogs and the head coach will go separate ways after a 15-season run in Athens, but this will not be the final stop for Richt as a head coach. On Monday, during a press conference with the media to address the coaching change, Richt was asked whether he will coach again.

“Oh yeah, no doubt,” Richt said in his response. “I’m going to listen to anybody that’s interested in talking to me,” Richt said when again asked about what’s next for the now former head coach of Georgia.

The press conference with Richt was a bit unusual for these types of settings. First, Richt continued to show his Georgia pride by wearing a black coat and red tie and had a Georgia pin on his coat. Second, he sat right next to Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity, who offered no insight whatsoever on what’s next for Georgia. When asked about the coaching search or the status for assistants, McGarity continued to shift the focus on Richt.

Richt expressed his enthusiasm for getting to coach one final game for Georgia. He will coach Georgia’s bowl game, wherever that may be, giving him one last chance to end a season with a bowl victory, which he has done nine times previously.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.