Joe Flacco: Manziel “quickly becoming my favorite player”

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Seems like everyone is taking potshots at Johnny Manziel these days, as every move by last year’s Heisman Trophy winner gets put under the microscope. My take: Sure, he’s being a bit of a knucklehead, but let’s have some perspective here, folks. Based on what people are saying about him, you’d think he was an axe murderer or something. The commentary over his antics this past Saturday has been a bit much.

One person who isn’t joining in the dogpile is none other than the quarterback of the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, Joe Flacco.

“Being hated is not a bad thing … I don’t know if I’ll be too popular after [saying] this: I [didn’t] know how I really felt about Johnny Manziel,” Flacco told Jim Corbett of USA Today. “But I feel like now that everybody hates him, he’s quickly becoming my favorite player in college football.”

Good for Flacco to take a contrarian stand. But does everyone really hate Manziel, though? For all the consternation over his actions, the media can’t stop talking about him. Johnny Football gets page views and TV ratings and allows talking heads to make dramatic statements about his future. In other words, they really love him. Or, they love that they get to hate him. Either way, they need him more than he needs them. It appears that he realizes it, too.

And, perhaps, that’s the one thing they really hate.

Greg Schiano was set to make nearly $28 million over six years as Tennessee’s head coach

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An ugly, very public backlash ended up causing some significant damage to Greg Schiano‘s bank account.

247Sports.com obtained the full Memorandum of Understanding between Schiano and the University of Tennessee, with the MOU revealing that UT was set to sign the Ohio State defensive coordinator to a six-year contract worth a total of $27 million; ESPN.com puts the number closer to $28 million. Schiano would’ve been paid $4.4 million in his first year as the Vols head coach.

However, Schiano was never officially hired as UT’s head coach after a certain segment of the fanbase used social media and other means to very vociferously object to the hiring based on Schiano’s (flimsy) connection to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. That backlash forced the university to reverse course on Schiano, setting the stage for an embarrassing series of snubs — and the athletic director working on a deal with Mike Leach one night only to be fired the next day — over the next couple of weeks before settling on Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as its next head coach.

It was reported back in late November that UT chancellor Beverly Davenport never signed the MOU, casting doubt on Schiano’s ability to seek any type of legal relief over the university backing out of the deal. It was further clarified earlier this month that the MOU, which was signed by Schiano as well as then-athletic director John Currie, needed to be signed by the university’s Chief Financial Officer to be valid; CFO David Miller never put his Herbie Hancock on the document, seemingly making it invalid if Schiano’s side decided to pursue a court case.

Should Schiano seek legal recourse through a lawsuit and ultimately win, though, it could prove to be very costly for UT. From ESPN:

If [Schiano] believes he was in fact hired, and then fired without cause, he would be owed 75 percent of the contract, which would equal $20.7 million.

Pruitt will make $3.8 million in his first year as UT’s head coach. Schiano made $700,000 (pre-bonus) as OSU’s coordinator this season, and is expected to get a bump in pay for 2018 that should get him to at least $800,000.

Three DBs among four who have left Syracuse since end of season

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Especially when it comes to the defensive side of the ball, Syracuse’s roster has seen a significant amount of attrition over the past couple of weeks.

Since the end of the 2017 regular season 17 days ago, a total of four players have left the Orange football program. Three of those who have taken their leave are defensive backs — Juwan Dowels, Daivon Ellison, Cordell Hudson — while the other is defensive tackle Kayton Samuels (pictured).

Dowels and Samuels were the latest to part ways, with both announcing on social media their decisions to transfer over the weekend.

Both of those two, along with Hudson, are leaving the Orange as graduate transfers. That transferring trio would all be eligible to play in 2018 if they move on to another FBS program.

Samuels played in 34 games during his time with the ‘Cuse, while Dowels played in 24. The latter’s 2016 season was cut short because of a knee injury in Week 2.

SMU confirms hiring of Sonny Dykes as new head coach

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After a year away from the head-coaching game, Sonny Dykes is back in it.

Not long after reports had surfaced earlier Monday, SMU confirmed a short time ago that Dykes has been named as the football program’s new head football coach.  Dykes replaces Chad Morris, who left for the same job at Arkansas late last week.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be introduced as the Head Coach at SMU,” a lengthy statement from Dykes began. “This is home and this is a program I grew up watching. I watched Mustang legends compete and I could always see myself putting on that iconic pony. Today, I’m proud to do just that.

“Coach Morris did great things here and I am fortunate that I have been selected to take the foundation Chad and his staff put in place and take it to a new level. And, make no mistake – That is what we plan to do.”

Prior to 2017, Dykes had spent the previous seven seasons as a head coach — four at Cal (2013-16) and three at Louisiana Tech (2010-12).  After being fired by the former school, he was considered a candidate for the offensive coordinator position at Arizona State.  Family issues, however, made TCU a better fit as he spent this past season as an offensive analyst with the Horned Frogs.

A native of Texas who played college baseball for Texas Tech, Dykes has gone 41-45 as a head coach — 22-15 at Louisiana Tech, 19-30 at Cal.

In Morris’ third season at SMU, the 7-5 Mustangs are bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012.

Florida DL Taven Bryan declares for NFL Draft

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The Dan Mullen era has everyone excited in Gainesville, but one key contributor won’t stick around to see it.

Defensive lineman Taven Bryan announced Monday he will leave school to enter his name in the 2018 NFL Draft. According to the statement released on his Twitter account, it sounds as if he made his mind up during the Jim McElwain and Randy Shannon regimes and nearly returned upon Mullen’s arrival.

Bryan ranked fifth on the team with 40 tackles while also recording six TFL and four sacks, just half a sack off the team lead.

A native of Casper, Wyo., Bryan will attempt to become just the third Wyoming native to be among the ranks of active NFL players.