Archie Griffin: ‘fishbowl’ makes back-to-back Heismans harder

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If anyone should know the pressure involved with winning back-to-back Heismans, it’s Archie Griffin. In fact, Griffin is the only one who’d know.

The Ohio State great, of course, is the only player in the history of college football to claim the prestigious Heisman Trophy in consecutive years back in 1974 and 1975.

Jameis Winston, after winning it as a redshirt freshman last year, is looking to match Griffin’s back-to-back feat. The Florida State quarterback, however, is facing a much tougher row to hoe than the first man who did it — and that’s according to the man himself. From the Associated Press:

Griffin… thinks it is more difficult to win the award in back-to-back years than it was 40 years ago. For him, the off-the-field distractions were more stressful than any defense.

“I’ll never forget that I was trying to do everything for everybody, and (coach Woody Hayes) called me into his office,” Griffin said. “He told me, `You know what? It’s going to make you soft. You can’t do everything for everybody.'”

Including Griffin and Winston, 20 non-seniors have won the Heisman, including the last seven winners (Ohio State’s quarterback Troy Smith in 2006 was the last senior). Of those 21, eight eschewed an opportunity to go back-to-back for early entry into professional football. Below are how each of the other 13 fared in the season after their Heisman win:

Army’s Doc Blanchard: 1945 winner, 4th in 1946
SMU’s Doak Walker: 1948 winner, 3rd in 1949
Ohio State’s Vic Janowicz: 1950 winner, not in 1951’s Top 10
Navy’s Roger Staubach: 1968 winner, not in 1969’s Top 10
Ohio State’s Archie Griffin: 1974 winner, 1975 winner
Oklahoma’s Billy Sims: 1978 winner, 2nd in 1979
BYU’s Ty Detmer: 1990 winner, 3rd in 1991
Oklahoma’s Jason White: 2003 winner, 3rd in 2004
USC’s Matt Leinart: 2004 winner, 3rd in 2005
Florida’s Tim Tebow: 2007 winner, 3rd in 2008
Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford: 2008 winner, injured most of 2009
Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel: 2012 winner, 5th in 2013
Florida State’s Jameis Winston: 2013 winner, ?

While it appears Sims was the closest to pulling off a repeat, he actually wasn’t as, in 1979, USC’s Charles White more than doubled-up the second-place Sooner great’s vote totals.  Instead, Army Glen Davis was arguably the closest… to actually beating Griffin by nearly 30 years.  Davis, the 1946 winner, was runner-up to his teammate, Blanchard in the 1945 voting by just 222 votes.

Times today, though, are much different from what they were then, most certainly back in Davis’ day and even Griffin’s.  With social media and television coverage, players face more scrutiny and are under a more powerful microscope than at any time before.

“They’re in a fishbowl,” Griffin told the AP when it comes to today’s Heisman contenders. “I mean, anything they do, Johnny [Manziel], every move he made it was talked about. Jameis, same thing. They’ve got to be extremely careful how they handle themselves because whatever they do, people are going to know about it.”

Johnny Football was the last player to attempt a repeat. In the run-up to the 2013 season, he was the source of constant media speculation, whether it be from NCAA violations to his partying ways.

Now a member of the Cleveland Browns — and still a lightning rod for contrived controversy — Manziel understands the “fishbowl” mentality as well as anyone. According to the quarterback, the run to the 2012 Heisman wasn’t fraught with nearly as much pressure as 2013.

“There is a lot of pressure,” Manziel said. “You’re the one that’s on TV every week. You’re the one who at the beginning of the year is already at the top of everybody’s Heisman list. … It’s everywhere because it’s the biggest trophy in college football.

“For me, I never really let it get to me too much, but at the same time, it was always around and it was always lingering no matter what went on throughout the season.”

(Photo credit: Ohio State athletics)

Illinois adds longtime NFL assistant; DC Hardy Nickerson given beefed-up title

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There was some movement on the coaching staff front for Lovie Smith Friday.

Illinois announced earlier today that Gill Byrd has been hired by Smith as the Fighting Illini’s safeties coach.  Byrd will also hold the title of passing-game coordinator.

“I’m very pleased to have Gill Byrd join the Illini coaching staff,” said Smith in a statement. “We’ve spent several seasons together in the NFL and I envision Gill bringing a great combination of knowledge and enthusiasm to our program. He will be a terrific influence on the young men he coaches, and, as good a coach as he is, he is probably an even better person.”

Byrd, who played his college football at San Jose State, has spent the past 19 seasons at the NFL level, coaching defensive backs during stops with the St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, most recently, with the Buffalo Bills last season.  This will mark Byrd’s first-ever job at any level of college football.

In addition to the hiring of Byrd, the football program also confirmed that Hardy Nickerson has been given the additional title of assistant head coach.  Nickerson has served as the Illini’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for each of the past two seasons.

Texas to give Todd Orlando raise to $1.7 million per year

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Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the raises.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the University of Texas System Board of Regents are set to approve several athletics-related contracts next week, headlined by athletic director Chris Del Conte’s multi-million dollar six-year deal and a hefty raise for Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

Orlando, who joined Tom Herman when he came over from Houston prior to last season, was already one of 15 assistants who were making over $1 million in 2017. He was courted by several programs this offseason however and the cost to retain him on the 40 Acres didn’t come cheap as his amended contract is set to pay him a reported $1.7 million as part of a new four-year deal.

Also on tap for the board? The Statesman notes that new offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand has a three-year contract awaiting approval worth nearly $640,000 annually.

While all those new contracts do add up for the Longhorns, it’s not like the burnt orange can’t afford it all as one of a handful of programs who topped $200 million in revenue last year.

Texas A&M athletic director: ‘Resource issues in ACC vs. SEC’

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CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd recently stopped in College Station to do a deep dive on one of college football’s biggest storylinesJimbo Fisher’s $75 million move from Florida State to Texas A&M.

While the money — some $90 million for the Aggies when all is said and done — is one of the more eye-catching parts of the story that are broken down, the comments from some at the school probably won’t go unnoticed by those in Fisher’s former conference.

“I’m not going to put words in Jimbo’s mouth, but there are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC,” Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward told CBS Sports, answering part of the question as to why the national title-winning head coach made the move from one of the sport’s blue-bloods to one of the oft-labeled “sleeping giants.”

We’re guessing those in ACC territory will not take kindly to those comments and note that some schools in the league have no problem raising cash, such as Clemson when it comes to their new football facility that has everything from mini-golf to sleep specialists. They also would probably point out that the conference has just as many national titles in the past five years as the SEC does too.

Still, when you look at the larger picture, there’s little question that the SEC is ahead of the ACC when it comes to revenues as a whole and the slow pace of facilities upgrades in Tallahassee was one of the many public grumbles that Fisher made known about before leaving FSU.

Something says all those ACC-SEC football games in 2018 will see Woodward’s comments brought up again — especially when Clemson heads to College Station to play Texas A&M in Week 2.

UCF’s Shaquem Griffin wins inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award

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UCF has won another trophy for last season and this is one they can very proudly display in the school trophy case.

That’s because recent Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin was named the winner of the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award during a ceremony in the Dallas area on Thursday night. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph were also finalists for the new award.

Griffin was one of the best players in college football for UCF despite the fact that his left hand was amputated when he was younger because of a congenital condition called amniotic band syndrome. A tenacious pass rusher, he was the AAC’s defensive player of the year in 2016 and was recently named the defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl as his team capped off a perfect season.

The award honors “exemplary leadership” on and off the field from a Division I college football player and was presented by Witten’s foundation. The former Tennessee star and All-Pro tight end with the Dallas Cowboys started the award last year and serves somewhat as the college version of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.