Johnny Football breaking the Heisman rules as a freshman

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It’s time to come clean.

I didn’t believe Texas A&M would come close to the kind of success it’s having in its inaugural SEC season, and I certainly wasn’t “all in” on Johnny Manziel as a legitimate Heisman candidate — at least not in the sense of the redshirt freshman bringing home the hardware in December.

Think about that for a minute as the shock of a 29-24 win for No. 15 A&M in Tuscaloosa over the top-rankeddefending BCS champions  begins to subside: a redshirt freshman — hell, a freshman of any classification — winning the Heisman.

Seems unlikely, doesn’t it? Impossible even, because Manziel’s not Matt Barkley or Montee Ball. You know, guys who were supposed to be receiving first and second-place Heisman votes just a few months ago. Familiar names. Even West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith had the Heisman wrapped up and shipped to Morgantown in September before the postal service realized the Big 12 was having it re-routed.

Manziel’s not an upperclassman who has time to build his lore, either, although the legend of “Johnny Football” is at a fever pitch at the moment. In fact, Manziel’s freshman status means no media interviews, per Kevin Sumlin’s coaching policy. Just about everything that’s supposed to play a role in college football’s most prestigious individual award, Manziel doesn’t have.

But he does have the most important metric. He’s got game.

The Heisman is supposed to be awarded to the most outstanding player in collegiate football. There are some fine candidates this year. Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein are just some of the names that should under serious consideration. Barring injury or a complete end-of-season meltdown, it’s impossible not to add Manziel’s name to that list after putting on the show he did against Alabama, effectively putting the SEC’s BCS championship game streak on the line in the process.

Manziel’s numbers against the Tide were exemplary (345 total yards and two touchdowns) and his season statistics are equally as impressive (2,527 passing yards, 1014 rushing yards and 31 total touchdowns), but what held Manziel back from the likes of Klein and Barner were his struggles against Florida and LSU, two sound defenses in the SEC. To project that Manziel was going to somehow turn it around against Alabama was a stretch.

But Manziel did turn around. He turned around, evaded, ran into his own lineman and even fumbled the ball and recovered. And that was just on one touchdown pass to Ryan Swope to put the Aggies up 14-0 in the first quarter. Manziel is more than numbers. He’s theatre.

For that, he’ll get an invite to New York. Manziel may not win the Heisman, but he’ll get a lengthy look at becoming the first freshman to win the award. For all his showmanship, the one thing Johnny Football has showed the college football world is that there are no more rules for who qualifies as a Heisman candidate.

Oregon State’s defensive lineman Conner Warick enters transfer portal

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Oregon State, step on up as the subject of the next installment of “The Days of Our Portal Lives.”

According to 247Sports.com, Conner Warick has taken the first step in leaving Oregon State by entering his name into the transfer database. An Oregon State football official subsequently confirmed that the defensive lineman is in the portal.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Coming out of high school, Warick was a three-star signee as part of the Class of 2018 for Oregon State. He was rated as the No. 25 player regardless of position in the state of Washington.

In his two seasons at OSU, Warick didn’t make an appearance for the Beavers. The search for a better shot at playing time triggered the lineman’s decision.

Oregon State is coming off a five-win 2019 campaign in Jonathan Smith‘s second season as head football coach. That marked the program’s most wins since hitting that same number in 2014 in Mike Riley’s last season. Earlier this offseason, it was reported that OSU is working on a contract extension for Smith, who has gone 7-17 in his two seasons.

Ex-Houston safety Earl Foster killed in shooting

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Houston is the latest college football program to be hit with a tragedy involving a current or former player.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle has reported that Earl Foster (pictured, right) was killed in an East Houston shooting Tuesday night. According to the report, Foster was found dead outside of a gas station.

Duarte also wrote that “[a] female companion was transported to a local hospital in critical condition.”

The shooting reportedly happened somewhere other than the gas station. “The vehicle arrived at the gas station and asked for help,” the report stated.

As of this posting, no arrests have been made. The shooting remains under investigation by the Houston Police Department.

Foster, a three-star prospect coming out of Lamar High School in Houston, was a safety for the Houston football team from 2012-15. He appeared in 49 games for the Cougars. All of his action came in a reserve role or on special teams.

The Houston football program expressed sadness over Foster’s death.

Craig Naivar, who was Foster’s position coach in 2015, posted on Twitter his sadness over the development.

“The relationships & bonds built thru competition, the grind & fellowship last forever,” the new USC safeties coach wrote. Very saddened today to hear of the loss of one of our brothers. Please keep Earl & his family close you your hearts, in your thoughts & prayers, Love you buddy.”

Oregon expected to land Boston College grad transfer QB Anthony Brown

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A very experienced player who could replace Justin Herbert has been added to the Oregon football roster.  Reportedly.

In mid-December, Anthony Brown took the first step in leaving Boston College by placing his name into the NCAA transfer database.  Four months later, the quarterback is ready to take the next step as Yahoo Sports! is reporting that Brown is set to be added to the Oregon football roster.

As a graduate transfer, Brown would be eligible to play for the Oregon football team in 2020.  The upcoming season would serve as his final year of eligibility.

In mid-October, Brown suffered a knee injury that was serious enough to sideline him for the remainder of the 2019 season.  He also saw his redshirt freshman season in 2017 cut short because of a knee injury.

In between the twin knee injuries, Brown had started 18 straight games under center for the Eagles — 12 in 2018, six in 2019.  All told, he started 28 games during his time with the ACC school.

Brown, whose decision to transfer came a week or so after head coach Steve Addazio was fired, will apparently finish his time at BC with 4,738 yards, 40 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in completing nearly 55 percent of his 680 pass attempts.  he also ran for 421 yards and another four touchdowns.

Oregon currently has three quarterbacks on its football roster.  Those are redshirt sophomore Tyler Shough, redshirt freshman Cale Millen and true freshman Jay Butterfield.  Shough is the only one in that group who has actually attempted a pass at the collegiate level.  As Herbert’s primary backup in 2019, Shough completed 12-of-15 passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns.

Butterfield was a four-star member of the Oregon football Class of 2020.  The California high schooler was rated as the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the country in this year’s class.  He’s widely viewed as as the quarterback of the future for the Ducks.

Iowa State announces one-year, temporary reductions in pay, bonuses for coaches

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Iowa State is the first FBS athletic department to address the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.  They certainly, though, won’t be the last.

Because of the crisis, there are growing fears that the 2020 college football season could be canceled.  While all options are being considered, a complete cancellation of the season would have a steep impact on the financial bottom line of most FBS schools, especially those in the Group of Five.

Because of previous revenue streams in the tens of millions, a Power Five program would be better equipped to handle such a development.  One Power Five school, though, is getting ahead of the cash-cow spigot that is college football potentially being shut off.  In a letter posted Wednesday night, Iowa State athletic director Scott Pollard unveiled “several initiatives that we are implementing in the athletics department to best prepare for, both the known and the unknown, financial challenges that we will be facing soon.”

For our audience, the most noteworthy initiative involves coaches’ pay.  That one-year reduction will save the athletic department — Pollard made sure to note the department “is funded almost entirely by external sources” — in excess of $3 million.  Additionally, bonuses for coaches have been suspended.  That move will save in the neighborhood of $1 million

From the release:

  1. A one-year, temporary pay reduction for athletics department coaches and certain staff. This comprehensive plan will reduce total payroll by more than $3M.
  2. A one-year, temporary suspension of all bonuses/incentives for all coaches. This decision will save the department $1M.
  3. Delaying (from January 2021 to January 2022) a previously announced increase in Cyclone Club annual giving levels. The delay will save donors approximately $2.5M for required seating donations.
  4. A freeze on season / individual game ticket prices for all sports.
  5. An extension to the deadline for this year’s Cyclone Club donations and football season ticket renewals to May 29, 2020.
  6. Providing multiple payment options for season tickets and donations. Those required payments can be made monthly, quarterly or semi-annually.

In December of last year, and amidst rumors of other job opportunities, Iowa State announced a contract extension for head football coach Matt Campbell.  His $3.6 million in salary was sixth among Big 12 head coaches in 2019.

At this point, it’s unclear how much Campbell’s pay will be reduced.