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.”

Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil to return for Texas A&M on Oct. 24

Associated Press
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As if this day wasn’t busy enough, Ole Miss announced late Monday evening star-crossed offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil‘s suspension has been capped at seven games, meaning he’ll miss Saturday’s trip to Memphis but return in time for Texas A&M visit to The Grove on Oct. 24.

From the university:

The University initially withheld Tunsil from competition at the start of the season as both the NCAA and the University examined several alleged improper benefits.  During the course of the process, it was determined by the NCAA that Tunsil received impermissible extra benefits that included the use of three separate loaner vehicles over a sixth-month period without payment, a four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate, and one day use of a rental vehicle.  In addition, it was determined that Tunsil was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators regarding the loaner vehicles.  He later corrected his account and since apologized. 

As part of his reinstatement conditions, the NCAA imposed a seven-game suspension, ordered Tunsil to pay the value of the extra benefits to a charity, perform community service, and he will also make the vehicle down payment.

Said Tunsil: “I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made and want to thank everyone for their continued support. I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and the entire Ole Miss family for how my choices affected our program. This was a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to being back on the field with my team and redeeming myself. The last 10 months have been a physical and mental battle for me, but I love playing this game more than anything else. I want to be here for my teammates who are depending on me to finish what we started together.”

The news is, obviously, great for Tunsil and head coach Hugh Freeze personally, as well as the entire Ole Miss football program. It’s also a nice plus for NFL scouts, as it means Tunsil’s first live action of 2015 will come against possible future No. 1 draft pick Myles Garrett.

Hope he’s been practicing.

Report: Steve Spurrier set to retire

Steve Spurrier

Say it ain’t so, Steve.

According to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated Monday evening, Steve Spurrier is set to retire.

Spurrier, 70, is a legend the likes college football has never seen before and never will again.

He was a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Florida, then returned to his alma mater and turned the program into a juggernaut, leading the Gators to 122-27-1 record from 1990-01 and a national championship in 1996. After a stint with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, Spurrier landed at South Carolina, where since 2005 he’s racked up a school record 86 wins.

But those wins slowed down of late. After an SEC East championship in 2010 and three straight 11-2 seasons from 2011-13, the Gamecocks fell to 7-6 in 2014, and are off to a 2-4 mark this fall. With the possibility of losses to nemeses old and new like Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida and Clemson ahead, Spurrier, it appears, would rather fade away quietly to the putting green.

Perhaps no two sentences summarize Spurrier, then and now, more precisely than this:

Combined with his three years at Duke, Spurrier closes up shop with a 228-89-2 mark, and a bust in the coaches’ wing of the Hall of Fame waiting for him.