Archie Griifin

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


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)

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

Markell Jones
AP Photo

It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

Associated Press

Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.