Rice v Texas A&M

Sumlin says Manziel will talk…eventually


Why does the media love to talk so much about Johnny Manziel?

Perhaps because the media rarely gets a chance to talk to Johnny Manziel.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner didn’t talk to reporters for most of the 2012 regular season — an almost-unheard-of situation for such a high profile player. If not for a big win over Alabama and an absurd 5,116 yards of total offense, he never would have won the Heisman, an award that relies in large part upon publicity and name recognition.

Nature abhors a vacuum and, in the meantime, the media has been more than willing to fill it with all kinds of manufactured news about Manziel. But while the best solution is probably to avoid a bunker mentality and let the rather eloquent sophomore speak for himself — to take control of the narrative, in other words — it appears mum is the word…for now.

Indeed, Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said on Tuesday that his star player will eventually talk, but that now isn’t the right time.

”I think it’s important now based on where he is that his focus is to try to be our quarterback and a student athlete,” Sumlin said. ”That’s his biggest challenge right now. (It’s) not his challenge to be here.

”I don’t think right now that him coming here and saying the words would change some people’s opinion about who he is. At the appropriate time he’ll be able to speak for himself.”

Sumlin is clearly struggling with his wayward pupil and trying his best to get him to see the light about his public behavior. As with most coaches, his first instinct is to shut down media access in these kinds of situations. But the fact that Manziel hasn’t spoken publicly since SEC media days in July hasn’t changed the amount of chatter surrounding him. Not by one iota. If anything, it has caused even his most minor actions to be taken up with a frenzy by the media.

Perhaps a different strategy is needed, one of engagement, not isolation.

Because we all know that, no matter what, Johnny Football will not be ignored.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

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.