Johnny Manziel helped put the Texas A&M football program on the map. Would he have had the same impact if he had gone to Oregon? Probably not.
As we lead up to the NFL Draft we are seeing NFL writers scramble to fill more time with draft preview content. Players are moving up and down draft boards for no real reason, but that is all a part of the game. In Philadelphia the idea of former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly drafting Manziel has picked up some steam for one reason or another. By now the story of how Kelly once tried to get Manziel to attend Oregon has been documented so well even the most casual of Eagles fan in the Delaware Valley can probably fill you in on the details. To this day, Kelly says Manziel would have been perfect for Oregon.
“When I coached at Oregon he was tailor made for it,” Kelly said in a story by CSN Philly. “He broke my heart. I love the kid. I think he’s a hell of a football player.”
Kelly has a chance to finally get Manziel on his team, although the reigning NFC East champions have needs on defense they should probably focus on first. But it is one of those things that makes you wonder what would have happened if Manziel had gone to play at Oregon instead of Texas A&M? A lot, probably.
Manziel was a three-star quarterback when he was recruited according to Rivals. Manziel signed with Texas A&M in the Class of 2011. Oregon wound up with Marcus Mariota, who committed to the Ducks before Manziel’s verbal commitment to the Aggies. If Manziel had gone to Oregon, he likely would have backed up junior starter Darron Thomas, who put together 33 touchdown passes as Oregon won a Pac-12 title and defeated Wisconsin in a back-and-forth Rose Bowl. The competition to start would start in 2012 between Manziel and Mariota, assuming both ended up in Eugene. Would Manziel have won that competition? Manziel and Mariota each won starting jobs at their respective schools that season, but Manziel may have been the player to keep Oregon’s BCS title dreams alive. If you remember what Manziel and Texas A&M did to Alabama that season, do you think Manziel could have led Oregon past a defensively sound Stanford? Mariota and the Ducks lost to Stanford, 17-14, in mid-November.
Imagine if Manziel had led the Ducks past Stanford to stay in the BCS championship mix. Oregon would have gone on to play in the BCS Championship Game, against either undefeated Notre Dame or, perhaps, an undefeated Alabama. Oregon and Alabama would have likely been the BCS championship match-up, which means Manziel would have had a chance to topple Alabama anyway.
The Cincinnati Bengals were rebuffed in its pursuit of an SEC defensive coordinator this past week. As it turns out, they pursued another coordinator at the collegiate level — and were shot down yet again.
According to a report from the NFL Network, the Bengals sought an interview with new Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley for their still-vacant coordinator job. “However,” the report stated, “he’s not going to renege on his commitment to OSU after taking the job last month.”
On Jan. 7, the Buckeyes confirmed Hafley and Michigan assistant Greg Mattison had been named as co-coordinators on Ryan Day‘s first OSU coaching staff.
The 39-year-old Hafley — he’ll turn 40 in April — has spent the past three seasons as the defensive backs coach for the San Francisco 49ers. All told, Hafley worked at the NFL for the last seven seasons.
Hafley’s last job at the collegiate level coming at Rutgers in 2011 as part of the coaching staff of Greg Schiano, who was let go by Day as OSU’s defensive coordinator early last month.
A familiar face will reportedly be next up on the offensive side of Lovie Smith‘s Illinois coaching staff.
Bob Asmussen of the Champaign News-Gazette was one of a handful reporting Friday that Smith is set to name Mike Bellamy as his new running backs coach. While there’s nothing yet official from the football program, a school official stated that a staff announcement could come as early as this weekend.
The hiring of Bellamy, who would replace an assistant lost to a MAC school, would mark a Champaign homecoming on a couple of fronts.
In the late eighties, Bellamy was a first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver and second-team All-American kick returner for the Illini. Then, from 2012-15, Bellamy served as wide receivers coach at his alma mater.
The past two seasons, Bellamy was the wide receivers coach at Toledo. In between his stints at Toledo and Illinois, he was a quality control coach at Mississippi State in 2016.
One SEC West school has turned to another from the same division to fill a hole on its coaching staff. Reportedly.
According to 247Sports.com, and citing two sources familiar with the decision, Chad Morris is expected to hire Kenny Ingram as Arkansas’ defensive line coach. Morris’ move to add a new assistant to his Razorbacks staff was triggered by John Scott‘s move to South Carolina earlier this offseason.
Ingram, who played his college football at Arkansas State, has spent the past two seasons as the Director of Player Relations at Auburn.
Prior to his time on The Plains, Ingram worked as the defensive line coach at Cincinnati from 2015-16. From 2006-09, he was on the coaching staff at Memphis, including a turn as defensive coordinator his last season with the Tigers.
In 2012, Ingram worked with the defensive line at his alma mater ASU.
Garrett Riley is a bright, accomplished coach in his own right, but until he wins back-to-back Heismans with two different quarterbacks (or, at least becomes a head coach in his own right), he’s going to be known as his big brother’s little brother. With that in mind: Lincoln Riley’s brother has been announced as Appalachian State’s new running backs coach.
“I’m excited to be part such a traditionally successful program,” Riley said in a statement. “I’m humble and grateful to have the opportunity to be around this organization and work with Coach Drink and the rest of the staff that I’ve known about for several years. Look forward to continuing the great success that Appalachian State’s had, and I can’t wait to start working with the players.”
Garrett followed Lincoln to Texas Tech and East Carolina before branching out on his own at Kansas, where he joined the staff as an offensive analyst in 2016 and was promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2017 and tight ends/fullbacks coach in 2018.
Appalachian State has not announced an offensive coordinator under new head coach Eli Drinkwitz — and certainly the head coach, a former offensive coordinator himself, will have tremendous sway on his favored side of the ball initially — it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Riley become the Mountaineers’ offensive coordinator in 2020 or 2021. “We’re looking to be cutting edge on offense, and we expect him to continue to push that,” Drinkwitz said Friday. “His experience coaching in North Carolina will also benefit our program.”