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Is A&M QB Manziel Ready For The NFL: “I Think I Am”

gfx - they said itWhat Johnny Manziel said yesterday shouldn’t surprise anyone.  The redshirt sophomore Texas A&M quarterback is eligible for early entry into the NFL draft next spring.  He’s already won a Heisman Trophy.  He’s won a lot of games.  He improved as a passer this past season, just as he’d promised.  And he managed to quiet the Manziel Mania that had become an offseason media obsession (that alone should aid his draft grade on a number of teams’ boards).

So why stick around the college game and risk injury for free when you can go pro and get injured for cold cash money?  (If you think the SEC’s list of injured quarterbacks is long, go dig up the NFL’s injury list.)

Asked about the pro game and his feeling of readiness yesterday, Manziel had this to say:

 

“You take everything into account.  More than anything, are you ready for the next level?  You don’t want to go be unprepared for the National Football League or leave two years on the table.  In the grand scheme, it all comes down to making the best decision for you…

I’m playing, for the most part, (at) a really high level of football.  Putting the ball where I want, throwing it with a lot of velocity, so in my mind I think I am.”

 

As for keeping himself out of the headlines (for the wrong reasons), Manziel said: “I was tired of being scrutinized so much.  The only way is not to do anything, not get on Twitter… keep a low profile… I didn’t want it to be all about me.”

C’mon, Johnny.  You can admit it. You read our preseason advice and followed it, didn’t ya?

Texas A&M will definitely miss Manziel next season, as will the SEC.  Players with his skills don’t come around often.  But it’s hard to blame someone for jumping to the pro ranks early.  No, his family doesn’t need the money, but if you’re putting your body on the line, why not get paid to do so?  And someone will pay Manziel some pretty good coin to ply his trade for them at the next level.

 

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Oregon To Don Pink This Weekend; Good Cause, Over-The-Top Execution

Over the last few seasons, the National Football League has handed out pink towels, pink gloves, pink socks and pink cleats to its athletes in an effort to raise breast cancer awareness.  So it was only a matter of time until some school saw the door left cracked open by the NFL and decided to kick it in completely.

And is anyone at all surprised that that school is Oregon?

 

oregon-pink-uniforms

 

Yeah, that pink goes well with the black, silver, chrome and greenish-yellow on the rest of the ensemble.

Look, I have no problem with a team wearing pink.  In fact, athletes and teams in other sports around the world have worn pink for years.  And the fact that Oregon is donning the pink this weekend against Washington State in an effort to aid the breast cancer cause should draw kudos as well.

But we’ve now reached the point in college football where no one’s brand is recognizable.  Flip on any game this weekend — any frickin’ game — and you’ll spend the first 30 seconds trying to figure out who’s who.

“Now which team is that with rocks on its helmet?”

“Why are those guys dressed like Batman villains?”

“Why do I suddenly desire a candy cane?”

It’s ridiculous.  And it’s driven by two things.  First, recruits want to wear different stuff.  That’s why a school like Oregon won’t wear the same get-up twice in a season.  Can you believe that major schools now change their unis and their brands in part to give teenagers what they want?  It’s clothing extortion.  Here’s guessing Bear Bryant never said, “OK, Timmy, we’ll wear a black helmet with a green facemask if you sign with us.”

The second reason for all the new garb… well, it’s us.  The schools know that fans will rush out and by a gray jersey at Tennessee, a jersey with gold numerals at Mississippi State, or a black jersey at Kentucky.  And granted, on occasion, it is neat to see a team wear something different.  On occasion.  But now that the occasion is every game every week, the neatness is fast wearing off.

Even if it is for a good cause.

 

SIDENOTE — One last note on all the pink stuff.  Breast cancer is a horrific disease and by all means awareness and funds must be raised so that women will catch it early and that scientists will someday find a cure for it.  But what I don’t understand — and I say this as a prostate cancer survivor myself — is why the NFL and schools like Oregon don’t make anywhere near the push for prostate cancer awareness that they do for breast cancer awareness.  Most football viewers are men.  And more men will get prostate cancer than women will get breast cancer.  That’s a fact that most do not know.  Probably because no one seems to have time to raise awareness for that disease when a month’s worth of attention is dedicated to breast cancer awareness.

Couldn’t Oregon break out a light blue uniform just once for prostate cancer awareness?

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No Surprise: Injured Florida DT Easley Going Pro

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Louisville v FloridaAny Gator fan hoping injured defensive tackle Dominique Easley might return to Florida next season by way of medical redshirt is going to be disappointed.  Will Muschamp confirmed today that the senior will rehab his torn ACL and turn his attention to the National Football League.

Easley was the unquestioned star and leader of UF’s defense.  His injury in practice last week has led to an early baptism for a number of freshmen called upon to replace him.  While that worked versus Kentucky last Saturday, Easley’s absence will likely be felt when the Gators face LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State before season’s end.

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Bama’s Fluker, Lacy And Milliner Turn Pro

mrsec-breaking-newsThree Alabama stars made official today what many have suspected since Monday’s BCS Championship Game — that they would leave as juniors for the National Football League.  Today offensive tackle DJ Fluker, running back Eddie Lacy, and cornerback Dee Milliner announced their intentions to depart Tuscaloosa early.

All three players are expected to be selected in the first or second round of April’s draft.

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Joeckel Leaves A&M, Declares for NFL Draft

mrsec-breaking-newsOne of the best “big uglies” to block for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is taking his talents to the National Football League.  Today, Aggie junior left tackle Luke Joeckel announced that he will be leaving school early.

Joeckel is expected to be a very high draft pick, possibly the first overall.  Texas A&M’s other starting tackle, Jake Matthews, is still making up his mind regarding an early leap to the NFL.

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Bama QB McCarron To Return For Senior Season

A pair of SEC stars announced today that they would be heading to the National Football League and its draft this spring.  But another big name player let it be known that he’d be back on SEC fields next fall.

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron released a statement through the university making it clear that he’ll return to Tuscaloosa for his senior year:

 

“I had many goals for myself when I came to the University of Alabama.  I have been lucky enough to achieve some of those goals, but some are still ahead of me.  There were many factors in my decision to return to Alabama for my senior year but, after talking with my family and coaches, I knew it was the right choice for me.”

 

McCarron has led the Crimson Tide to back-to-back BCS Championship Games and will try to win his second title next month against Notre Dame.  He led the SEC in passer rating this past season.

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Report: Carolina RB Lattimore To Go Pro

Marcus Lattimore’s recovery from a brutal knee injury in October is right on schedule, but if an ESPN report is correct, the running back’s next carry will occur in the National Football League.  Joe Schad is reporting that “a source close to the player” has said Lattimore will declare for the draft, possibly as soon as Wednesday.

Schad says Lattimore has the blessing of Gamecock coach Steve Spurrier.

Lattimore has already battled back from one knee injury and his current rehab could cost him all of next season.  Still, the talented workhorse back reportedly plans to meet with NFL officials at the scouting combine and then jog and catch passes for them by the end of March.

Remarkably — at least for anyone who saw Lattimore’s leg bend in the wrong direction in Carolina’s win over Tennessee last fall — Lattimore is already off crutches.

If/when he announces this decision, he’ll leave Columbia with 2,677 yards rushing and 38 touchdowns to his name.

Our tip for Lattimore: Hire Drew Rosenhaus as your agent.  Rosenhaus was the agent for ex-Miami Hurricane Willis McGahee who badly damaged his knee in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.  Instead of falling too far down the draft board, McGahee was selected #23 overall in the first round by the Buffalo Bills despite the fact he would have to sit out the entire 2013 season.  He’s gone on to be a two-time Pro Bowler and has played with the Bills, the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos, his current team.

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As NFL Kicks Off New Thursday Nighter, SEC Considers Going Head-To-Head

Rarely do I want you to leave our site.  Today I’m going to make an exception.  Take a second and flip around some of the national sports websites this afternoon and you’ll find ad after ad after ad for tonight’s Green Bay/Chicago NFL game on NFL Network.  For the first time, the National Football League has decided to go all-in on Thursday nights with a weekly pro game.  The past few seasons, the NFL has kicked off its Thursday nighters after Thanksgiving… about when the college regular season is winding down.

As a pro fan, I hate the NFL’s decision to expand its Thursday schedule.  Just give me my games on Sundays and Mondays, please.

But with the NFL already growing its own schedule, ESPN and the SEC are also eyeing a possible Thursday night partnership.  And I not only don’t like that decision, I think it would be a dumb one.

The NFL is Leo DiCaprio in “Titanic.”  It’s James Cameron at the Oscars.  It’s the King of the World.  Heck, do you realize that the NFL’s Pro Bowl — yeah, the game everyone hates and makes fun of — is the top-rated All-Star game in professional sports and that it ranks as one of the top sports draws on television each year?  And it’s awful.

Here’s some more perspective, from January through July, the 12 most-viewed sporting events on television were all NFL games.  That BCS Championship Game between Alabama and LSU?  The apex of the collegiate season which featured the two best teams from the very best conference?  Yeah, it came in at #13 on the list behind the Super Bowl and 11 other NFL contests.  Not even the biggest game in college football with two teams from Southeastern Conference can compete with the National Football League when it comes to television viewership.

Still, just last week, SEC scheduling guru Larry Templeton told Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News the following:

 

“I would hope that we have a conversation, which we haven’t yet, that everybody plays a game on Thursday night during the (next scheduling) cycle.  There will be some schools that have difficulty hosting that game.  But there would also be opportunities….

Yes, it could become a highly-viewed (television) window.  Particularly in an exclusive window.”

 

Translation: “Think of the exposure if we partner with ESPN to make Thursday night ‘SEC Night’ in America!”

This year’s Thursday night opener between South Carolina and Vanderbilt pulled a 3.0 rating — 4.1 million viewers — and was ESPN’s top-rated Thursday night game since Auburn played Virginia in 1998.  Very promising.

One problem.  That Vandy/USC game didn’t have to go head-to-head against a highly-promoted NFL game.  If it had, you can be certain it wouldn’t have grabbed 4.1 million sets of eyeballs.

The NFL also figures to be a big competitor should the SEC eventually decide to put Ole Miss-Mississippi State or LSU-Texas A&M on Thanksgiving night.  This year — after CBS and Fox have their daytime fun — the primetime Turkey Day game will move from NFL Network to NBC.  That will mean a nifty increase in ratings for the NFL’s primetime game.

Look, I get it.  It’s clear that the SEC wants to further separate itself from the rest of the college football playin’ pack.  Feeding ESPN a weekly Thursday night game looks good on paper.  But going toe-to-toe with the top-rated sports league in the country?  That takes a little bit of the steam out of the whole SEC/ESPN/Thursdays idea if you ask this writer.  Instead of maximum exposure, the SEC’s Thursday night game would be more along the lines of niche programming.

That’s no knock on the SEC which is college football’s ratings champ.  It’s simply a statement of fact.  No other sporting event can battle the NFL for viewers and expect to win on a regular basis.  And if the SEC loses such a ratings battle on a regular basis, it could actually do more harm to the league’s reputation than good.  The best looking girl in your hometown probably wouldn’t want to be seated next to Angelina Jolie at a party.  She may be pretty, but compared to Jolie, she won’t look as pretty.

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Muschamp Will Be Counting Turnovers At UF

Florida football coach Will Muschamp said this weekend that he’ll be keeping things pretty simple when it comes to the statistics he closely follows this fall:


“When I was in the National Football League and since then being back in college, each year as you measure it, the teams that are winning and the teams that are playing in BCS games, turnover margin and big-play ratio are the two things.  That’s the only stat from my postition that I’m going to really harp on our players.”


Muschamp pointed out that of the 10 top teams in national turnover margin last year, six of them played in BCS bowl games.

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Arkansas Doesn’t Want Gridders Eating Like Pigs, Gives Them Etiquette Training

Bobby Petrino isn’t just putting his players through the usual summer workouts this year.  No, he’s also making sure they’re buttoned up at the dining room table.

According to Robbie Neiswanger of ArkansasNews.com, UA’s football players “gathered together for an etiquette dinner designed to help them learn proper practices, procedures and techniques to be comfortable in formal dinner or buffet settings.”

Assistant AD Eric Wood says the training table, er, training is designed to make sure the players are good Hogs on the field and off it:


“Executives, whether it’s in the National Football League or if it’s for a corporate job, are using a meal as an opportunity as part of the interview process.  (Petrino) knows that people come from varying backgrounds on the team.  So he wanted to make sure that those guys in that situation are comfortable.”


Nothing wrong with that.  In fact, we suggest Petrino use the following short film as an aid, too.





No one wants to be a Mr. Bungle. 

At least Petrino isn’t having to teach shower etiquette.

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