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)

Ex-Baylor DC Phil Bennett calls legal firm interview a fraud, says Art Briles deserves to coach again

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Former Baylor head coach Phil Bennett says an interview he did for a law firm reviewing Baylor’s response to sexual assault scandal was a fraud because he was unable to go through the interview without an attorney by his side. In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bennett took issue with the review conducted by the Pepper Hamilton law firm.

“It was somewhere in January or February after our bowl game,” Bennett said of the interview he had with representatives from the law firm. “I told (staffers) it was a fraud set up from the get-go. I wanted to bring a lawyer in and to record it. I wanted protection. They would not talk to us if we did. They didn’t have a recording of it, either. That’s what bothered me. I was in there for 4 1/2 hours. They wrote notes. I wrote notes. They looked at mine. I looked at theirs. (The two investigators) were so out of touch with the structure of college football, it was comical.”

Bennett went on to explain when he realized there was no progress he was going to make in the interview.

“I said, ‘We are bringing these kids in and we take great pride in keeping them within the lines of university procedures. That’s our jobs. We are not getting the normal student.’ I wanted to be as real as I could with them. We are trying to teach these kids how to be in college and how to react in situations. She says, ‘Judicial Affairs should have known.’ As soon as she said that, I knew this was over.”

Despite the scale of the scandal at Baylor and the fallout that ensued, Bennett remains confident Baylor was really no different from any other college football program in the country.

“We had the same issues that everybody had,” Bennett claimed at one point in the video interview. “We tried to stay on top of things. Now, were we just a hammer? Probably not.”

Previous reports have detailed how members of the Baylor coaching staff worked around the typical Title IX procedures, which is what really brought the entire situation at Baylor to a boil.

Bennett also came to the defense of former Baylor head coach Art Briles, suggesting Briles was targetted because Baylor could not successfully fire Ken Starr as university president.

“Yes. I remember when this all started, my wife told me, ‘This is the sort of thing that gets you fired.’ I don’t know if this was true, but I was told by a member of the board that Art was never the objective. They were looking to fire Ken Starr. But Starr lawyered up. And the next on the pole was Briles.”

During the course of the interview, Bennett suggested Baylor was no different from other college football programs around the country

“Every night I say a prayer for him, that he will [coach again],” Bennett said of Briles. “I think without question he deserves to.”

Briles, of course, has struggled to land a coaching job since being fired by Baylor. A job in the CFL never took off after public outcry about his hiring, and he remains a bit of a pariah around college football as the dust still settles from the impact of the scandal in Waco.

Tom Herman says ideal Texas schedule would include Texas A&M rivalry

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Let’s face it. Until the day comes when Texas and Texas A&M get back on the same football field for a regular season game, this topic is never going to die. In the latest example of proving you can set your offseason calendar to the moment anyone from Texas or Texas A&M merely mentions the dormant rivalry, Longhorns head coach Tom Herman suggested reviving the rivalry with the Aggies would be a part of his ideal football schedule in Austin.

“In my perfect world, you would play one big-time Power 5 [non-conference] opponent,” Herman said in SiriusXM ESPNU Radio interview with Andy Staples and Rick Neuheisel this week. “To me, there’s a very logical one an hour-and-a-half east of us.”

Herman was clearly referring to Texas A&M when mentioning a logical option just 90 minutes east of Austin. Herman also expressed a desire to be able to play a true rivalry game at home in an alternating series similar to other Big 12 schools like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State playing each other and Iowa State playing in-state Big Ten rival Iowa. Texas A&M would fit that bill Herman is trying to address.

Of course, this is all the same old stuff we have been talking about since Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC and the rivalry was put on ice after the 2011 season. Fans of both schools appear to have a much greater desire for the series to be revived, and coaches who have come and gone make it a routine to sound off on wanting to play their old rival to win fans over. But the fact remains the powers that be at both Texas and Texas A&M are standing firm on not wanting to play the other school again, even if there is a hint there are higher-ups who would be interested in seeing the series continue.

Both the big 12 and SEC require their members to schedule one game against another power conference opponent in non-conference play. It seems to be a perfect way for the rivalry to resume for both the Longhorns and Aggies. Instead, both schools continue to line up non-conference schedules without including the other, as is the case now through 2020 for sure, and likely for years beyond that with other matchups against power conference teams already lined up for years.

Larry Fedora says war on football could lead to downfall of country

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It’s not very often when a head coach can lose on a conference’s media day, but UNC head coach Larry Fedora went down swinging on Wednesday. On the first day of the ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte, North Carolina, Fedora stood firm on some interesting takes on the current state of the game and how it could lead to the downfall of the country. He also suggested there is no connection to playing football and CTE.

It was a doozy of an afternoon for the head coach of the Tar Heels.

“Our game is under attack,” Fedora suggested when discussing new rules being implemented into the game with the focus on improving the safety of players. “I fear that the game will be pushed so far from what we know that we won’t recognize it 10 years from now. And if it does, our country will go down too.”

Some of what Fedora said is not an original thought. With more and more rules being changed or added to the game at all levels of the game, including the NFL, it is clear the sport of football is being changed in dramatic ways that would leave some from a former era hanging their heads. Of course, players from previous eras were not able to compete in a time when medical advancements and research were on par with what is available today. Still, Fedora seemed to take up a stand on this topic as well by suggesting he does not think it has definitely been proven that playing football causes CTE. Fedora said he believes the CTE data has been put out as fact and it has swayed some people away from football entirely.

It may be unwise to suggest there is a stone-cold fact that indisputably links football to CTE, but more and more research is connecting the dots fairly strongly. A report from the New York Times last summer showed 110 of 111 brains of former NFL players had symptoms of CTE. The study comprised of 202 former football players from various levels of the game. The link between playing football and CTE has been strong enough to have the NFL begin modifying its procedures and regulations, and more and more colleges and conferences are addressing these concerns as well. Still, Fedora is taking up his side in the so-called war on football.

Let’s be crystal clear here; playing football significantly increases the risk a player will experience CTE in their life. There is no disputing that. And no, if football is changed for the benefit of player safety, it will have zero impact on the country as a whole.

Fedora also raised some eyebrows for his comments about why football is part of what makes the United States so great, which he defended by sharing a comment he received from a former military general. After his initial media session at the ACC media day event, Fedora later gathered a handful of selected media members to clarify his comments. But rather than change one word in his statement to make himself look better, Fedora held firm with his comments.

Fedora is coming off a 3-9 season in Chapel Hill, and he may be on one of the hottest seats the ACC has to offer this fall. Starting the year off sounding like a cranky old-school football meathead may not be the best way to get the new season started for Fedora, but he’s all in on the idea that the decline of football will inevitably lead to the fall of the entire country.

If Fedora doesn’t make UNC great again, he may be taking his war on football to the unemployment line.

Delaware new home for Penn State transfer Andre Robinson

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More than seven months after leaving Penn State, Andre Robinson has found his landing spot.

The mother of the running back confirmed to PennLive.com that her son has transferred to Delaware to continue his collegiate playing career.  As the Blue Hens play at the FCS level, Robinson will be eligible to play immediately for the program.

Including this season, Robinson will have two years of eligibility remaining.

“All parties are excited for this opportunity for continuing his education and playing football for Delaware, the mom, Jennifer Mellinger, told the website in a portion of a statement.

Robinson was a four-star member of Penn State’s 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 20 running back in the country and the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Pennsylvania.

A redshirt sophomore, Robinson was third among Nittany Lions running backs this past season with 55 yards and one touchdown on the ground in 2017.  He finished the PSU portion of his playing career with 196 yards and six touchdowns on 30 carries.