Archie Manning

Nebraska, Big Ten top FWAA’s 75th Anniversary All-America Team

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This topic might cause some differences of opinion.

To honor its founding back in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) Thursday announced its 75th Anniversary All-America Team.  A total of 41 schools and 75 players are represented on the first, second and third teams, with 56 of the 75 already inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Nebraska, with six, placed the most players on the three teams, followed by Ohio State and Pittsburgh with five each.  Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas were next with five apiece, while Georgia, Michigan and USC netted three each.  The only other schools with more than one player were Florida, Miami (Fla.), Notre Dame and UCLA, all with two.

Based on where the schools currently reside, the Big Ten leads all conferences with 19 players.  That does include Nebraska’s six, even as all six of those came from the Cornhuskers’ time in the Big Eight/12.  The ACC was next with 15, although it should be mentioned that Pittsburgh’s five players all played prior to the Panthers’ move into that conference.  The SEC, Big 12 were next with 13, 10 and seven, respectively.  The most for a Group of Five league was Conference USA’s three.

One of the biggest points of contention that I’ve seen on Twitter when it comes to this team has been the running back position, specifically with the inclusion of Archie Griffin on the first team.  While the former Ohio State star is the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy, and whom I’m in no way dismissing as he was a tremendous talent, I, personally, would take Pittsburgh’s Tony Dorsett (second team), Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders (second team) or Auburn’s Bo Jackson (third team) over Griffin any day of the week and twice on Saturday.  In fact, there’s no way I could whittle my first-team running back down to just two out of these four: Jackson, Dorsett, Sanders and Georgia’s Herschel Walker (first-team along with Griffin).

Another point of contention?  The quarterback position, of course.

From first to third team it went Roger Staubach (Navy), Tim Tebow (Florida) and Tommie Frazier (Nebraska).  How Frazier is behind anyone, let alone those two — again, no disrespect to either — is the great unknown.  Not only that, but one could also question how the likes of, among others, Tennessee’s Peyton Manning, Stanford’s John Elway, Florida State’s Charlie Ward, Ole Miss’ Archie Manning, Stanford’s Andrew Luck, BYU’s Steve Young and, despite playing just one season, Auburn’s Cam Newton couldn’t find inclusion.

A couple of other things: Ohio State’s Chris Spielman would be a lock as a second-teamer on my team, although I do think the FWAA absolutely nailed all four spots in the secondary.

One final quibble on my part: Florida State’s Sebastian Janikowski should’ve found a spot on one of the three teams.  Case closed, end of discussion.

FWAA 75th Anniversary Team

Finally, if you were wondering how the teams were compiled, the FWAA explained it in its release:

A nomination ballot with selected players from all FWAA All-America teams was sent to the entire membership this spring. The popular vote was then taken into consideration by a Blue Ribbon Committee of FWAA past presidents, current board members and officers. That committee put the finishing touches on selecting the 75-man team. In order for a player to be considered for the FWAA’s 75th team, he had to be on a previous FWAA All-America team.

Ole Miss’ Huge Freeze, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen call for Mississippi to change state flag

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Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen were among the prominent Mississippi public figures to sign a full-page ad in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger petitioning the state to remove the Confederate Flag from Mississippi’s state flag.

An excerpt from the letter:

“It is simply not fair, or honorable, to ask black Mississippians to attend schools, compete in athletic events, work in the public sector, serve in the National Guard, and go about their normal lives with a state flag that glorifies a war fought to keep their ancestors enslaved,” the letter says. “It’s time for Mississippi to fly a flag for all its people.”

Freeze was outspoken in his hope the Mississippi state flag would remove its Confederate emblem during SEC media days last month, saying “I think it’s time that we move in a different direction.” Freeze’s comments came as South Carolina grappled with removing the Confederate flag from its state capitol building after Dylann Roof allegedly shot and killed nine members of a predominantly black church in Charleston, S.C.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier supported the removal of the Confederate flag long before it became a national topic of discussion, telling ESPN in 2007:

“If anybody were ever to ask me about that damn Confederate flag, I would say we need to get rid of it. I’ve been told not to talk about that. But if anyone were ever to ask me about it, I certainly wish we could get rid of it.”

Among the others who signed the letter in the Clarion-Ledger: Former Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning, as well as Jimmy Buffett, Morgan Freeman and John Grisham.

Manning Award watch list paced by five QBs from ACC

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One of the talking points in the months leading up to the upcoming season is that 2015 could be The Year of the Quarterback in the ACC.  The Manning Award seems to agree… somewhat.

In becoming the latest, but not the last, to do as much, the Manning Award released its preseason watch list, with 30 quarterbacks from all 10 FBS conferences all represented on in this initial group.  Headlining that group of 30 are three finalists for the 2014 award that was won by Oregon’s Marcus Mariota: Trevone Boykin of TCU, Cody Kessler of USC and Dak Prescott of Mississippi State.

The ACC leads all conferences with five quarterbacks on the list, although that league is followed closely by the AAC, Pac-12 and SEC with four apiece. The Big Ten features three watch listers, although none come from quarterback-rich Ohio State.

“We’re very excited about the group of quarterbacks on our Watch List,” said Archie Manning, who along with his sons Peyton and Eli are the namesakes of the annual award. “And once the season gets rolling, I am sure we will see additional quarterbacks become worthy of inclusion as they establish themselves, so we will make some additions.”

The Manning Award, incidentally, is the only quarterback award that includes the candidates’ bowl performances in its balloting. The press release also notes that midseason additions to the watch list will be announced on Wednesday, Oct. 14, while the list of 10 finalists will be released on Wednesday, Nov. 25. The winner of the 2015 version of the award will be announced on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

2015 Manning Award Watch List

Marcus Mariota headlines NFF Hampshire Honor Society list

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In yet another case of Marcus Mariota being a disgustingly wonderful human being, the former Oregon quarterback took home one more honor the day before he officially leaves college football and joins the NFL.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner led a list of 817 players on the National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Honor Society list for 2015 – basically the Dean’s List for college football at large.

“The Hampshire Honor Society plays an important role in highlighting that college football players clearly play a leadership role in the classroom as well as on the playing field,” said NFF president and CEO Steve Hatchell. “We congratulate each of these young men for their commitment to excellence.”

To join the Hampshire Honor Society a player must carry a 3.2 grade-point average throughout their college career, be a starter or significant contributor in his final year of eligibility and meet all NCAA or NAIA eligibility requirements.

“We have honored nearly 6,000 student-athletes in the last nine years thanks to Jon Hanson’s generosity,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “We are grateful for his passionate belief in the scholar-athlete ideal, and the Hampshire Honor Society allows us to showcase the names of tomorrow’s leaders while inspiring future generations to follow in their footsteps.”

Among the other big names joining Mariota on the list (which can be seen here in full) are former Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, former Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly, former South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson and former Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton.

Oh, and did we mention Mariota is establishing a four-year scholarship at his former high school in Honolulu? This guy is just the worst.

Archie Manning cedes CFP post, replaced by Bobby Johnson

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Not so unexpectedly, another change has come to the College Football Playoff selection committee.

In a press release Friday, the CFP announced that Archie Manning will not be able to rejoin the committee charged with both picking the four playoff participants and slotting teams in the other “New Years Six” games.  Manning was one of the original 13 members of the committee, but was forced to take a sabbatical related to health issues this past October.

“I was honored when I was chosen to be on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee,” Manning said in a statement. “It’s a great group of people and they did a wonderful job last year. But as I look ahead to the various commitments I have – to my family, numerous time obligations around the country and to other conflicting demands – I have concluded that I won’t be able to return to the committee. I particularly want to watch [NFL quarterback sons] Peyton and Eli play, in person when I can, and it’s hard to do that when weekends are devoted to watching college games. This is not an easy choice, but it’s the right choice for [wife] Olivia and me.

“The College Football Playoff is a big hit and I wish my colleagues the very best.”

Manning’s replacement has already been selected, with Bobby Johnson sliding into the open spot. After spending eight seasons (1994-2001) as the head coach at Furman, the 64-year-old Johnson spent eight seasons (2002-09) in the same position at Vanderbilt before abruptly retiring from coaching in July of 2010.

Johnson, a South Carolina native, played his college football at Clemson in the late sixties and early seventies.  He also spent one season (1993) as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator.

According to the release, Johnson was selected unanimously during a March 25 conference call.

“I have tremendous respect for the selection committee and I am honored to join the group,” said Johnson. “As a former player and coach, I’m particularly happy about the opportunity to continue to serve the game.”

With Johnson onboard, there are now four former FBS head coaches on the committee: Johnson, Tom OsborneBarry Alvarez and Tyrone Willingham.

Johnson is also the second new committee member announced this year.  In mid-December of last year, after the final CFP rankings came out, it was announced that Oliver Luck would be stepping down as West Virginia’s athletic director and taking a job at the NCAA.  Two months later, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt was announced as Luck’s replacement.

This likely won’t be the last shakeup as the terms of current committee members Mike Gould, Pat HadenMike Tranghese and Osborne expire next February.  As far as the other committee members go, the terms of Alvarez and Condoleezza Rice expire in February of 2017, while the terms of Willingham, committee chair Jeff Long, Tom Jernstedt, Dan Radakovich and Steve Wieberg are up a year later.

(Photo credit: Vanderbilt athletics)