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)

Jim McElwain hints at playing three quarterbacks vs. Michigan

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Considering his opponent won’t so much as release a simple roster, there’s no reason whatsoever for Florida head coach Jim McElwain to say anything of consequence.

Still, it sounds as if No. 17 Florida may play all three of its quarterbacks next Saturday against No. 11 Michigan (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC).

“You’re going to see a bunch of them in there playing. The three guys have done a really good job. Not naming a starter right now,” McElwain said. “I think that there’s some things that they all bring to the table that are really good. Now the key to us is putting them in those positions that play to their strengths.

“Will all of them play? I don’t know yet. Will a couple of them play? I don’t know yet. I know we will have somebody at the position. This is not — don’t read into this that we’re not happy where they’re at. It’s really more so the competition has really brought out some good things. It’s going to be … ultimately the guy the team moves with the best, the guys that create positive plays on third down and get the ball in the end zone [that we go with].”

The three of them, by the way, are graduate transfer Malik Zaire, junior Luke Del Rio and redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks. In a world governed by the truism of “If you have two quarterbacks you don’t have any,” it’s not exactly a good sign that none of Zaire, Del Rio or Franks have separated themselves from the others.

Zaire showed flashes but was eventually benched at Notre Dame and just arrived on campus this summer. Del Rio, a 2-time transfer before arriving at Florida, was the Gators’ starter coming out of training camp last season but fought through injuries throughout the season. And Franks is a 6-foot-5 former 5-star recruit that many thought would have grabbed the job by the horns by now.

While every team turns over from one season to the next, Florida finished 105th nationally in yards per play last season while Michigan’s defense placed second. With top playmaker Antonio Callaway serving a suspension, Florida will look to put the ball in the hands of whomever can move it, even if three of them happen to play quarterback.

Tracy Claeys discusses protests that led to his firing from Minnesota

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Chances are you haven’t heard Tracy Claeys‘s name mentioned in a while. The former Minnesota interim-turned-full time head coach was let go in January and has not been picked up by a new staff in the months since.

But Minnesota released an outside report last week that defended the school’s decision to suspend 10 players amid a sexual assault investigation and pinned the subsequent team-wide threatened boycott of the Holiday Bowl on “weak leadership” of the coaching staff. The Gophers played and won that Holiday Bowl, but it wasn’t enough to save Claeys’s job.

On Wednesday, Claeys penned an essay in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that both defended his tenure as the Golden Gophers’ head coach and admitted mistakes in a saga that would have swallowed many a head coach’s career.

Last September, I suspended five players for a reported sexual assault. When law enforcement authorities the following month declined to file any charges, the university reinstated those players. At the time, I was congratulated by our athletic director for my handling of this issue and promised that I would remain the head football coach in 2017.

But university officials soon conducted their own inquiry and in December resuspended the five players and suspended five more — again, even though prosecutors had determined there was no basis for formal charges.

Members of our Football Leadership Group and others on the team felt strongly that administration officials had overstepped their authority and that the accused players were treated unfairly and denied protection under due process. To amplify their argument and shine light on what players felt was a flawed and unjust process by the university, the team voted to boycott the Holiday Bowl.

It was a decision that moved us directly into the national spotlight. Unfortunately, some misunderstood or misinterpreted the players’ decision to boycott the Holiday Bowl. They felt that our team and coaches were condoning or downplaying sexual misconduct or assault. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

In light of this new report, are there things I would have done differently? Certainly. First and foremost, I would have remained on campus with my team and coaches rather than attend a Holiday Bowl news conference in San Diego. I’m confident that my presence would have better directed the conversation with our players and that I could have steered them toward something other than a decision to boycott the game.

 I also would have refrained from using social media to state my support of the team’s decision. This was too complex and important an issue to address in a 140-character message. It generated more questions than it answered and likely created more problems than it solved.
Claeys was 11-8 in his one and a half seasons as Minnesota’s head coach, his first head coaching job. Assuming he does not get hired in the next week and a half, the 2017 season will be Claeys’s first out of the game since launching his career as a student trainer at Kansas in the early ’90’s.

Kirk Ferentz and wife donate $1 million to Iowa children’s hospital

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Kirk Ferentz may be the but of a bunch of contract-related jokes, but no one jokes about the man’s character.

And for good reason.

The University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital announced Wednesday that Kirk and his wife Mary have donated $1 million to create the Savvy Ferentz Program in Neonatal Research, which will aim to improve the survival rate for premature babies. The Ferentzes made the donation in honor of their granddaughter Savvy, who was born in 2014 at 22 weeks gestation.

“We knew Savvy was born too early,” Mary said in a statement. “We also knew they do extraordinary things at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital that would give her a fighting chance. We were thankful we had that.”

The Stead Family Children’s Hospital claims higher survival rates for infants born at 24- and 25-weeks than the average U.S. hospital, and the Ferentzes hope their donation will further increase those rates.

“The University of Iowa has long been a leader in neonatal research and in providing high-level patient care, particularly to this most vulnerable population,” Iowa pediatrics professor Dr. Jeffrey L. Segar said. “This gift from the Ferentzes will help us capitalize on our strengths, advance our research, and, most important, make an impact on the lives of many Iowa children and their families, now and far into the future. We are deeply grateful for their support.”

Kirk Ferentz will begin his 19th season as Iowa’s head coach next Saturday against Wyoming (noon ET, BTN).

Texas TE Andrew Beck now out for entire 2017 season

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As it turns out, it’s much worse than originally thought for one playing member of the Texas football program.

Nearly a week ago, Andrew Beck went down during practice with what was later diagnosed to be a broken foot.  At the time, it was thought that the tight end would miss anywhere from 6-8 weeks, which would’ve put him back, at the latest, early October.

Fast-forward to Wednesday, however, and the Longhorns announced that Beck will be sidelined for the entire 2017 season because of the injury.  The senior will undergo surgery at some point this week to repair the damage.  He’s already undergone two previous foot surgeries and sat out the spring because of issues in that area.

The good news is that Beck has yet to use his redshirt season, which means he could return in 2018 as a fifth-year senior.

Beck started 13 games the past two seasons, including three in 2016.  Last season, he caught four passes for 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Entering summer camp, he had been expected to be the Longhorns’ starter.

With Beck out, that onus will likely fall on Kendall Moore, a graduate transfer from Syracuse.