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

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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 12.5.2.2 — 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.”

D-II head coach to reportedly take RBs coach job at Syracuse

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It appears Dino Babers is on the verge of, once again, completing his Syracuse coaching staff.

FootballScoop.com is reporting that reporting that Justin Lustig (pictured, left) is leaving his job as the head coach at Div. II Edinboro (Pa.) College to take over as running backs coach at Syracuse.  Additionally, Lustig will serve as special teams coordinator for the Orange.

This will mark Lustig’s first job at a Power Five program.

Lustig replaces Mike Hart, who left earlier this month to take the running backs coach job at Indiana.  Tom Kaufman, who oversaw Syracuse’s special teams as well as coached linebackers, took the defensive coordinator job at an FCS program two weeks ago.

Hired in January of last year, Lustig took over an Edinboro team that finished 0-11 in 2015 and turned them into a 9-2 squad one year later.  For that turnaround, he was named the Div. II Coach of the Year.

Lustig’s last job at the FBS level came at Ball State, where he served as running backs coach/special teams coordinator from 2011-15.  He also earned the title of assistant head coach prior to the start of the 2015 season.

Former Baylor TE Tre’Von Armstead arrested in connection to 2013 sexual assault

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The cloud habitually hovering over the Baylor football program continues to get darker.  And more ominous.

According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, “[f]ormer Baylor football player Tre'Von Armstead was arrested Wednesday… on three second-degree felony sexual assault charges stemming from an alleged 2013 sexual assault while he was a member of the Baylor football team.” While the alleged rape occurred in mid-April of 2013, the case was suspended by the Waco Police Department, ESPN.com writes, “after the alleged victim chose not to pursue charges against Armstead and former Bears running back Myke Chatman, who she accused of sexually assaulting her at her apartment.”

The victim in that alleged assault, a former “Baylor Bruin” recruiting hostess for the football program, filed a lawsuit in late January of this year in which it’s alleged that 31 Baylor football players committed 52 acts of rape over a four-year period starting in 2011.  It was further alleged in the lawsuit that BU assistant football coaches, including current Florida Atlantic assistant Kendal Briles, contributed to what was described as a “culture of sexual violence” around the football program.

“Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players,” Briles, the son of disgraced former BU head coach Art Briles, told one recruit according to that lawsuit, one of many the university is currently facing as a result of the sexual-assault scandal.

Despite the 2013 allegations of Armstead being involved in a sexual assault, he remained with the football program until his dismissal in September of 2015.  A little over a week ago, Armstead was arrested on multiple charges in Las Vegas after he allegedly physically assaulted a woman.

Louisville clarifies titles for revamped defensive coaching staff

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The offseason shuffling of Bobby Petrino‘s defensive coaching staff appears to be complete.

Thanks to Todd Grantham‘s move to Mississippi State earlier this offseason, Petrino was forced to overhaul his staff on that side of the ball.  Peter Sirmon, who Grantham replaced at MSU, was hired by the U of L as defensive coordinator in mid-January.

As the Cardinals kicked off spring practice this week, the football program detailed the responsibilities for the defensive side of the staff.

New defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon announced on Wednesday that he has finalized position changes on his defensive staff. Sirmon will mentor the defense, but will also coach the outside linebackers. Lorenzo Ward will coach the secondary, while Cort Dennison will now mentor the inside linebackers. L.D. Scott will stick with coaching the defensive line.

Last season under Grantham, the Cardinals were 31st nationally and sixth in the ACC in scoring defense (23.8 points per game).  They were 14th and third, respectively, in total defense (319.6 yards per game).

Auburn wide receiver Kyle Davis potentially out for spring

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Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was optimistic about wide receiver Kyle Davis returning to the team at some point this spring, but the tune has changed regarding his future. Malzahn is now saying Davis may be out for the remainder of Auburn’s spring practices due to personal reasons.

“Kyle Davis is still taking care of some personal business,” Malzahn said, according to SEC Country. “I’m not for sure if he’s going to be back before the end of the spring. He will be back for the fall, just taking a little bit longer than we initially thought.”

It was just a few weeks ago Malzahn said Davis was going to be out for the start of spring practices, which are now close to half over. For now, the plan is simply to have him return over the summer in preparation for the fall.

In the meantime, Malzahn confirmed John Franklin III is working primarily as a wide receiver, which had previously been suspected to be the case.