Johnny Manziel, Luke Joeckel

A&M, NCAA confirm Manziel’s half-game suspension


And there you have it.  The Johnny Manziel situation has finally come to an end.  Probably.

Following up on earlier reports, Texas A&M and the NCAA released a joint statement in which it was “confirmed… that there is no evidence that quarterback Johnny Manziel received money in exchange for autographs, based on currently available information and statements by Manziel.”  The reigning Heisman winner was interviewed for six-plus hours Sunday by NCAA investigators regarding allegations that he had received impermissible benefits.

However, because of what was described in the release as “an inadvertent violation” of NCAA bylaw — i.e Manziel not taking the proper steps to ensure someone doesn’t profit off of hisn name and/or likeness — A&M declared Manziel ineligible and set the conditions for his reinstatement, which are as follows and which have been accepted by the NCAA:

  • A one-half game suspension for Manziel
  • Manziel will address the team regarding the situation and lessons learned
  • Texas A&M will revise its future education concerning student-athlete autographs for individuals with multiple items

In the release, the NCAA did note that “[i]f additional information comes to light, the NCAA will review and consider if further action is appropriate.”

“I am proud of the way both Coach [Kevin] Sumlin and Johnny handled this situation, with integrity and honesty,” A&M chancellor John Sharp said in a statement. “We all take the Aggie Code of Honor very seriously and there is no evidence that either the university or Johnny violated that code.”

With the punitive measure, Manziel will be forced to sit out the first two quarters of the season opener Saturday vs. Rice in College Station.  Sumlin has stated neither who will start in place of Manziel or whether the All-American would play in the second half.

Regardless, the news seemingly brings to a conclusion a drama that began less than four weeks ago.  Normally not known for its expediency — Miami says hello, NCAA — The Association, for whatever reason, closed the book on this situation in a remarkably efficient manner.  And, for a football program with high hopes for the 2013 season, the swiftness was appreciated.

“Texas A&M University would like to thank the NCAA staff, not only for its fairness and professionalism throughout this process, but also for the expediency of its actions,” A&M athletic director Eric Hyman wrote. “Texas A&M is a proud member of the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference and, as such, we will continue to abide by the rules governing the association and the conference.  Texas A&M is committed to competing with integrity and sportsmanship, and we will continue to ensure strict compliance guidelines for our student-athletes, coaches and supporters.”

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.

Unitas Award whittles watch list in half down to 15

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Trevone Boykin #2 of the TCU Horned Frogs looks for an open receiver against the Texas Longhorns in the second quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season?  Watch lists are being whittled.

The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior.  The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.

The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).

The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten.  The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).

Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.

Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah