And for that, the whole of Aggie Nation can breathe a sigh of relief.
It had been nearly two months, since the SEC media days in mid-July and since the cash-for-autographs “scandal” in early August, that Johnny Manziel had spoken to the media, with Texas A&M slapping a zipper on the quarterback’s lips in the hopes of expediting the passing of the firestorm. Following the win over Sam Houston State in which he accounted for nearly 440 yards of total offense and four touchdowns, the reigning Heisman winner addressed the media… and did nothing to add any fuel whatsoever to the Johnny Football fire.
Needless to say, Manziel was asked about the last month or so that saw him come under NCAA investigation and ultimately hit with a half-game suspension he served opening weekend. Speaking in generalities, Manziel stated that he leaned on his Aggie football family during that time, letting them know during his NCAA-mandated mea culpa that he’s focused on the field even as if it seems the rest of the country is focused on the stuff off of it.
“The biggest thing that’s helped probably is just being around these guys, being in this building and having my teammates and still being able to be around them, It was easy to block all the stuff out, get off everything, not read anything and just grow with my teammates and continue to get a better bond with them and just spend time with them. …
“To let them know I’m here and I’m focused on this season and I love each and every one of these guys … that’s the message I was trying to get across. These guys mean the world to me. There’s so much other stuff that gets played on and is out in the public. But we know what is in this building.”
With one of the biggest games of the regular coming up against Alabama Saturday, one that will have as much hype as any in the past several years, Manziel looked to downplay the significance of a game being played the third weekend of the season.
“It feels like another game,” he said. “It feels like Week 3 of the season. We’ve got to continue to get better as a team continue to get better on every aspect, offense, defense, special teams. (To) have a full lineup back and a full roster back of guys who have been out will be nice.”
After public pressure helped get him out of the Little Apple, Corey Sutton is going to resume his collegiate playing career on the East Coast.
On his personal Twitter account Friday night, Sutton (pictured, No. 12) announced that he is “[b]lessed to say I will be continuing my collegiate career at Appalachian State University.” The rising sophomore will have to sit out the 2017 season because of arcane and one-sided NCAA transfer rules.
Beginning in 2018, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining.
The move comes three weeks or so after a very noisy exit from his first college football home.
In early June, the transferring wide receiver revealed in an interview that Kansas State had denied a release to all 35 schools he requested, including FCS and Div. II programs. Bill Snyder both confirmed the accuracy of Sutton’s accounting of events and defended his decision, then inexplicably ratcheted up the public rhetoric by revealing Sutton had failed a pair of drug tests.
Facing a maelstrom of criticism, Snyder subsequently apologized publicly while the football program granted Sutton a “full release” from his scholarship that still restricted him from transferring to any Big 12 school or one that’s on K-State’s future schedule while he still has eligibility. It’s unclear if the Sun Belt Mountaineers were on Sutton’s original list of 35 schools that was denied by the university.
In his lone season with the Wildcats, Sutton played in 11 games, catching four passes for 54 yards. Sutton came to K-State as a three-star 2016 signee after playing his high school football in North Carolina.
BYU’s future as an independent appears to be on solid ground through at least the next couple of seasons.
That’s the biggest takeaway from Friday’s announcement at the Cougars’ annual football media day in Provo as the school confirmed ESPN had exercised their contractual option to extend broadcast rights for BYU home games through 2019.
“We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with ESPN for decades and that relationship seems to get stronger every year,” athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a release. “There is great collaboration, and I feel really good about what we are doing together. We’ve had good dialogue about extending the contract and felt this option would give us some time for additional conversations.”
ESPN agreed to an eight-year deal with the school when they originally opted to become a football independent back in 2011. The network holds the rights to all BYU home games aside from at least one game a year that will be aired on the school’s own network, BYUtv.
In addition to extending the broadcast deal another season, BYU also secured a slot in a bowl game thanks to ESPN’s backing. The Cougars, if eligible, didn’t have a set bowl game to go to in 2017 and their slot in the Poinsettia Bowl for 2018 went away when the bowl folded earlier this year. The end result is that if BYU hits the necessary six wins in the next few seasons, they’ll wind up playing in one of the many postseason games that ESPN owns, operates or televises.
The schedule-makers in Oxford were pretty busy on Friday.
Not content to just add a non-conference game against Texas Tech in Houston to the Rebels’ slate of future games, Ole Miss has also added Sun Belt foe Troy to the schedule in 2022. According to a release from the Trojans, the two teams will open the season that year on September 3rd in Oxford.
The game will be just the second ever between the two programs despite being in neighboring states and about a five hour drive away from each other. The Rebels won the previous meeting back in 2013 by a score of 51-21.
The one-off game will complete the Ole Miss non-conference schedule for 2022 and leave just one opening between the upcoming season and 2023 left for the school to fill. In addition to hosting Troy for the opener, the Rebels will also play Central Arkansas and Tulsa in Oxford, plus Georgia Tech up in Atlanta.
Troy has played their fair share of SEC programs over the years and also has a future date with Missouri on the docket as well.
2017 will mark the return of UAB football after a brief absence on the scene following a controversial disbanding of the program. As part of that return to college football, the school is in the market to schedule several future games down the road and it appears one of the Blazers non-conference games could include a trip up the highway to play in-state power Auburn.
“We’ve had conversations with them,” Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs confirmed to AL.com this week. “We’d love to play them again if we can work it out on the schedule, but finding a common date is often difficult to do some times.”
As Jacobs alludes to, finding a match in terms of dates could prove to be tricky. The Tigers have filled all their non-conference slots through 2019 and already have already agreed to home games against two fellow CUSA programs in 2020 and 2022.
On the flip side, UAB also has signed up their fair share of top-flight SEC competition as well. The school will play at Florida this season and will travel to Texas A&M in 2018 and Tennessee in 2019. Meetings with the state’s two SEC programs are rare (Auburn and UAB last played in 1996) but it could be fun to see the recently revived Blazers find a way to schedule their neighbors up the road at some point in the future.
Based on comments from both schools, the only question left now might be what the date actually is.