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Could The NCAA Drop The Hammer On Manziel Even If No Money Changed Hands?

rule-book-holyEarlier this week, we pointed out that while lots of people are drawing Cam Newton/Johnny Manziel comparisons, their two sagas differ in a couple of ways.  First, the investigation into Newton opened midseason and didn’t become public until November.  Second, there was a loophole for Newton to fit through.  That loophole has since been closed and would not be available for Manziel.

Or would it?

Tony Barnhart lays out the differences and the similarities between the two cases at today.  Regarding one of the similarities he writes:


“What if money changed hands for Manziel’s signature but it never touched Manziel’s hands?  What if it went to one of the ‘personal assistants’ who travel with him?  And what if Manziel didn’t know — or claims he didn’t know — that somebody else got money?

In that case, the NCAA might have to make yet another rule to cover this particular situation.  Now do you understand why the rule book is so thick?”


Everyone seems to have a different view on whether or not the Newton rule would apply to Manziel.  The view at is that the above scenario would be covered by the rule that closed that loophole.

In January of 2012, the NCAA added the rule which expanded the definition of an agent.  Any third-party influence — like Newton’s father, Cecil, for instance — who markets an athlete for profit could cost the player his eligibility.  In addition to family members, contract advisors, financial advisors, marketing representatives, brand managers “or anyone who is employed by or associated with such persons” would be considered agents.

NCAA Bylaw 12 also states that “an agent is any individual who, directly or indirectly, represents or attempts to represent an individual for the purpose of marketing his or her athletics ability or reputation for financial gain.”

Let’s say that Manziel’s friend/handler Nate Fitch asked for cash for Manziel’s signature on memorabilia (as is being reported).  Fitch would clearly qualify as an agent as he quit school to help Manziel manage his schedule and fame.  He also would have attempted to represent the player for the purpose of making money off of his reputation.

But, would it matter — as Barnhart puts forth — if Fitch and Manziel both said that the quarterback didn’t profit from the attempted rule violation?  Knowing that the NCAA tends to make decisions on the fly, we at aren’t sure that it would.  Southern Cal was smacked around based in large part on the word of a man who’s testimony wouldn’t have help up in an actual court of law.  The NCAA expanded its powers and jurisdiction in order to pile on Penn State a year ago.  So if the NCAA believes Manziel knew what Fitch was doing, the NCAA could punish Manziel.  Even if both parties say the player didn’t know about it and didn’t profit from it.

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SEC Headlines 10/17/2012

SEC East

1. Florida is averaging just 145 passing yards per game – last in the SEC. Quarterback Jeff Driskel: “If you’re winning, everything’s all right.”

2. Steve Spurrier: “I hope the Gators finish second in the East. That would be a good season for them.”

3. More Spurrier: “We’re going to try to get the ball to Marcus Lattimore more than we did last week.”

4. Battling a sprained ankle, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones is not a sure thing to play against Kentucky.

5. Jeff Schultz on Georgia’s defense: “Are players thinking more about the next level than the next game?”

6. Tennessee offensive lineman Antonio Richardson: “We’ve lost three SEC games, and in my opinion I think we were better than all three of them.”

7. Kentucky has been outscored 152-38 in SEC play.

8. Three freshman making a big impact at Vanderbilt this year.

9. A bye week comes at a good time for the 3-4 Missouri Tigers.  Gary Pinkel: “It’s a good time to get a break.”

SEC West

10. Is Johnny Manziel one game away from joining the Heisman race?

11. Kevin Scarbinsky on the A&M quarterback: Johnny Football. Not Cam Newton 2.0.

12. Due to concussions and recurring headaches, Texas A&M safety Steven Campbell has decided to end his career.

13. Tennessee’s offense will be the biggest challenge Alabama’s defense has faced this year.

14. Alabama’s midseason report card? “This should scare future opponents: There still is room for improvement.”

15. Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell is on pace to break every major passing record at MSU. Russell and Johnny Manziel added to Manning Award watch list.

16. Auburn’s defensive tackle Gaby Wright: “1-5, let’s face it. It sucks. But the absolute truth is, we’ve got guys talking about firing coaches, and the truth is it’s a battle.”

17. Is Auburn offensive coordinator Scott Loeffler up to the task?

18. LSU’s leading tackler at linebacker had 64 tackles last year.  Kevin Minter has 63 through seven games this year.

19. Steve Spurrier wasn’t yelling at LSU defensive tackle Bennie Logan Saturday – he was yelling at the refs.

20. What’s changed at Arkansas?  Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino: “The only thing that was really different between Rutgers and A&M and the last two weeks is we didn’t hurt ourselves.”

21. Razorbacks tight end Chris Gragg returned to the practice field Tuesday.

22. How Arkansas AD Jeff Long has put several other schools on the clock.

23. Once described by his coach as “all boy”, Bo Wallace is maturing at quarterback for Ole Miss.

SEC/College News

24. Welcome to the new SEC – where the running game rules.

25. John Adams: “There’s nothing complicated about how to energize your fan base. Just follow Alabama’s lead. Or South Carolina’s.” Round table on the future of Derek Dooley at Athlon.

26. Tony Barnhart calls Arkansas, Auburn and Missouri major disappointments.

27. A hearing Wednesday in the NCAA lawsuit will focus on an economist’s calculations of how players and colleges could share revenue.

SEC Basketball

28. ESPN’s “All-Access Kentucky” - three, half-hour commercials for Big Blue? A sneak peek at the show.

29. The Ole Miss basketball team looks deeper and more diverse this year.

30. Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell says he’s “95 percent” recovered from a season-ending knee injury.

31. At 30:1 odds,, are the Missouri Tigers a steal?


32. The new drug of choice for athletes.

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SEC Headlines – 9/17/12


1.  Auburn’s defense turns its attention to LSU after getting “embarrassed” by the Tigers last season.

2.  Gene Chizik wants more help for QB Kiehl Frazier: “… we just don’t feel like right now he can feel the pressure of having to win it on his own.”

3.  Alabama’s defense hasn’t missed a step this year. 

4.  The Tide is a massive 51-point favorite over Florida Atlantic.  (Cue Nick Saban to jump the oddsmakers/press for disrespecting the Owls.)

5.  Arkansas is searching for answers after Saturday’s 52-0 beatdown by Alabama.

6.  John L. Smith on quarterback Tyler Wilson’s postgame comments about players giving up: “Tyler is taking the lead and he is the spokesman for this football team.”

7.  LSU signal-caller Zach Mettenberger has taken responsibility for a red zone interception thrown Saturday night.  (Good thing it really didn’t matter much in the Tigers’ 63-14 win over Idaho.)

8.  The points keep on coming for the Tigers.

9.  Dan Mullen wants to see how his Mississippi State team responds to a national ranking… and a sloppy win over Troy.

10.  Mullen:  “We jumped into the polls and we did not perform at our best.”

11.  The thin Ole Miss secondary was picked apart by Texas on Saturday.

12.  How will the Rebels bounce back from a 66-31 shellacking?  Hugh Freeze: “You go fight.”

13.  Texas A&M will use a game with South Carolina State as a tune-up for Arkansas.

14.  Kevin Sumlin liked that QB Johnny Manziel “kept his eyes down field instead of just taking off and running” while scrambling on Saturday.



15.  Will Muschamp on Florida’s short-yardage game: “What we’re doing is not good.”

16.  The Gator coach wants more selfish players.  No.  Really.

17.  Georgia’s Mark Richt on Vanderbilt: “I know we’ll be motivated for that game… we’ll be ready.”

18.  Richt hopes that linebacker Jarvis Jones will be ready to play against Vandy after sitting out Saturday’s win over FAU.

19.  Can Joker Phillips end Kentucky’s tailspin before it’s too late?

20.  It’s all going wrong for the Big Blue.  Or is that red?

21.  The Wildcats continue to give ground.  Literally.

22.  Steve Spurrier says quarterback Connor Shaw should be ready for Missouri on Saturday despite “a small, little fracture” in his shoulder.  Yikes.

23.  Backup Dylan Thompson looked pretty good again when he had to step in for Shaw on Saturday.

24.  Fresh off a defensive collapse against Florida, Tennessee has lost leading tackler Brian Randolph to a season-ending ACL injury.

25.  Writer: Vol fans “won’t risk the emotional investment they made” before the Florida game for a while.

26.  Vanderbilt’s James Franklin isn’t saying who’ll start at quarterback against Georgia on Saturday.

27.  Franklin’s trick to turning around Vandy’s 0-2 start?  It’s an odd one: “For our 2012 season we’re undefeated right now.  That’s our mentality.  That’s how we’re taking it.”  (Who needs reality?)

28.  Carolina’s Spurrier pushed for one, but the presidents at Missouri and South Carolina won’t be handing out a “Battle of the Columbias” trophy on Saturday.

29.  By telling the world that his quarterback wouldn’t take a painkilling shot in his sore shoulder, Mizzou’s Gary Pinkel seemed to question James Franklin’s toughness and desire.

30.  Franklin’s father said: “In our family, we don’t believe in taking medication (for pain) or trying to soften anything with any drugs.”  (I wouldn’t have done real well in the Franklin household.)



31.  The good folks at the SEC office have handed out their weekly awards and honors.

32.  For those who’ve been saying that Alabama and LSU could meet for the BCS title againyou’re right.  (And for those about to rock… we salute you.)

33.  Like us, Tony Barnhart, noticed what kind of bad weekend four warm seat coaches in the SEC just endured.

34.  The SEC is strong at the top, struggling at the bottom.  (Which can be said for just about every conference every year.)

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SEC Headlines – 7/16/12

1.  Realignment nugget: Syracuse will officially leave the Big East for the ACC next July.  (Your move, Pittsburgh.)

2.  Welcome back, Tony Barnhart.  Here are his five questions heading into SEC Media Days.

3.  Here’s a look at Alabama’s tailbacks…

4.  And a look at Auburn’s tailbacks.

5.  New quarterback Zach Mettenberger is getting plenty of attention at LSU.

6.  Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin is excited about his SEC debut.

7.  Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones is the SEC’s top player according to The Gainesville Sun.

8.  Tennessee linebacker Herman Lathers is pushing forward after missing 2011 with an injury.

9. Vanderbilt is taking advantage of NCAA rule changes in basketball.

10.  In case you didn’t know it, the SEC is no place for job security.

11.  Check the latest on the SEC players making preseason award watch lists right here.

12.  And get yer college football bowl predictions right here.

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Slive Opens Up On Playoff And Expansion

SEC commissioner Mike Slive sat down for a Q&A session with the media yesterday.  Tony Barnhart of has the particulars.  We’ll just hit on some of the highlights:


Asked if he had any doubt that a four-team playoff was on the way:  “I’d say the right word to use is ‘hopeful.’  We are committed to the four-team playoff.  We’ve been talking about it for four years and that is where we’re comfortable.  We support the four-team playoff.  How it’s done and where it’s done are issues we all have to discuss as a group… There are a number of issues that the commissioners still have to work through.  I’m hopeful that somehow we can find a place where we can all be comfortable. But our conference believes that if you’re going to have a four-team playoff then the best four teams should be chosen for that playoff.”


Asked would he compromise on a 3 champs plus a wild card plan:  ”I support taking 1-2-3-4.  I think that is the simplest solution and the one our fans will best understand and accept.  I believe that we are all guardians of the game and we should do what is best for the game.  Yes, we are responsible for our own conferences.  But I think we have to be careful about gerrymandering who should be in the playoffs.”


Asked twice about a possible SEC Network, Slive said on both occasions:  “We are currently talking to our TV partners about our TV future.”


Asked about further expansion:  “I was comfortable at 12.  We were comfortable at 12.  It’s institutions like Texas A&M and Missouri came and said they were interested in our league… We weren’t in an expansionist mode, and we aren’t in an expansionist mode now.”

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SEC Headlines – 5/9/12

1.  No surprise — the SEC still leads the way in college football attendance.

2.  Under Big Ten commish Jim Delany’s whacked out “Top 6 if You’re a Conference Champ” plan, seven of teams ranked in the Top four would have missed the playoffs in the last nine years.  (Anything other than 1-2-3-4 is muddying water that needn’t be muddied.)

3.  Alabama’s Nick Saban is looking for depth at quarterback following Phillip Sims’ transfer.

4.  Gene Chizik is glad to have more depth on his offensive and defensive lines at Auburn.

5.  Chizik and his Tigers will face old coordinator Gus Malzahn, old running back Mike Dyer (if he keeps his nose clearn), and Arkansas State in 2013.

6.  Defensive coordinator John Chavis is looking for even more success at LSU.

7.  Ex-Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino’s motorcycle is up for auction. (Wonder if Arthur Blank or Tom Jurich or Tommy Tuberville will try to buy it for sentimental reasons.)

8.  Razorback hoopster Marshawn Powell’s recovery from knee surgery is on schedule.

9.  Mississippi State’s two top coaches are ready to hit the speaking circuit.

10.  New Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork says the school did all it could to keep top fundraiser Danny White from leaving.  (He’s the new AD at Buffalo.)

11.  Facility upgrades and the transition into the SEC will be top priorities for Texas A&M’s next AD.

12.  Rival athletic directors are praising Bill Byrne has he heads for the exit at College Station.

13.  Florida’s defense is adding bulk.

14.  Quarterback Aaron Murray will be among those graduating at Georgia on Friday.

15.  Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart says his school needs to pour $75-100 million into its football program for Commonwealth Stadium upgrades.

16.  This writer says there’s nothing out of the ordinary in the Nerlens Noel/NCAA story just yet.  (Aside from the fact that the NCAA is asking questions at all.)

17.  Ex-South Carolina hoopster will transfer to either Florida or Kansas.

18.  Derek Dooley’s new staff is hoping to provide a fresh start at Tennessee.

19.  Tulsa point guard Eric McClellan is transferring to Vanderbilt because he like “the overall feel.”

20.  Tony Barnhart of wonders if Missouri could actually win the SEC East this year.

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Rumors And Taking Credit Where Credit Isn’t Due: The Key To Web Success

When it comes to web traffic, the site knows how to get it.  From numerous stories about Auburn’s “illegal” activities to a wave (a Tidal wave, perhaps?) of photos showing Alabama players posing for photos at a menswear shop in Tuscaloosa, the folks at SportsByBrooks know how to get eyeballs — you run with hypotheticals, possibilities and rumors.

It’s a gold mine.  And if a rumor turns out to be true — boom — you “broke the story.”  If it doesn’t… no harm, no foul.

This week, SportsByBrooks set off a flurry of activity in the Twitterverse and Blogosphere by tweeting the following:

Hearing from multiple sources that high profile SEC coach will quit at end of season b/c of conflicts w/ AD

Not Joker, Nutt or Richt.

Cue the speculation.  The website — which bills itself as “Unfair.  Imblanced.” — believes Steve Spurrier could be the coach to say bye-bye.

The site says its’ sources “say that they heard the rumor about Spurrier leaving at the end of the 2011 season ‘months ago.’”

From the handling of Stephen Garcia’s situation — which Spurrier never seemed to be in 100% agreement with — to the way the school’s administration handled his recent calling out of Columbia columnist Ron Morris, Spurrier hitting the exit makes sense.

But that’s the beauty of the blind item rumor.  If any coach not named Joker, Nutt or Richt leaves at the end of the season, the SportsByBrooks rumor can and will be called true.  Whether it’s factually true or not.

In Spurrier’s case, it’s possible that a coach could just get tired of having a struggling offense, isn’t it?

Seeing the success of SportsByBrooks, national freelance columnist Clay Travis decided to follow the model and by launching  His first uber-story: photos of Bama players posing at a Tuscaloosa menswear store.  It was his story that SportsByBrooks picked up and ran with for days on end.  (For the record, nothing ever came of the numerous SportsByBrooks posts regarding Auburn and the NCAA has yet to get involved in the T-Town Menswear story.)

OutKickTheCoverage has exploded on the scene following SportsByBrooks’ plan — two or three stories per week, a healthy dose of cynicism, and plenty of rumors.  Travis is also a very witty writer.

But OutKickTheCoverage also is big on taking credit for things.  All kinds of things.  It’s the reason you’ve seen us start saying, “Hey, we were right about this months ago,” more often on our own site.

Yesterday, OutKickTheCoverage posted a story on Tony Barnhart’s involvement in the SEC’s accidentally-released dossier on Missouri last week.  It’s a good piece.  It examines whether or not Barnhart crossed a line with his CBS bosses by not reporting on the “hypothetical” Missouri-story the SEC website workers asked him about.

In what’s becoming a somewhat common move at that site, they said no one else on the web had even asked a question about Barnhart’s journalistic integrity in this matter:

“I did a Google search to find someone who even mentioned Barnhart’s conflict publicly.

Do you know how many results I got?


That’s funny.  ‘Cause when I did a Google search this morning of Barnhart + Missouri (searching under “news” of course, lest I get links to the town of Barnhart, Missouri), I found the following at the tip top of the page:

1.  Leaked Missouri to the SEC story raises serious ethical questions

That’s from the Capstone Report, an Alabama-centric site that posted its story six days ago.  That was the morning after the Barnhart Q&A appeared on the web.

2.  Questions Raised By Accidental Web Post

Uh, that one was from some site called  We also posted our story the morning after the web leak.  And we were the first site — as far as we can tell from searching the web and from looking all over the place that day — to reach out to Barnhart for a comment.  The comment he gave to us later popped up on his Twitter account and he’s repeated it numerous times to other outlets following up, like OutKickTheCoverage.  (For the record, knowing Barnhart, we gave him the benefit of the doubt.  You’ll notice that we also guessed — from the wording of the Q&A — that the “hypothetical questions” defense might be appropriate.)

3.  A link to the site also popped up in our simple Google search, though not in headline form.

That site also raised the issue of Barnhart’s involvement with the SEC.

The folks at OutKickTheCoverage are sharp, witty and bigger than us.  A tip of the cap to them.

But that doesn’t mean they can do unto others as they so often complain ESPN does unto them.  If they think they can act like they’re the only site that exists and the rest of the world will let them, uh, no, that won’t happen.

In recent weeks, we’ve taken to point out when we’ve been right on a story and when we’ve been first on a story.  We get a few negative comments each time we do it.

Now you know why we do it.

If we report from May of 2010 to September of 2011 that the SEC could still possibly launch its own SEC television network, we’ll point that out.  Because we know live in a world where someone can come out after our most recent posting on that subject with “breaking news” that the SEC — can you believe it! — could start its own SEC Network.  Whoda thunk it?

Look, we don’t want a war.  The other guy’s got a national name and a pricier eduction than the guys here at MrSEC.  We’d lose that battle.

But we also don’t want to have to spend our time responding to questions about another guy’s report… a report that actually came a week after we covered the same topic and got the first comments from the person involved.

Fair is fair.  We’ve linked you to and a number of times.  They know how to get readers.  And some of their stuff is A-1 fantastic.

We only ask that if someone claims that he’s the only person to cover something — based on a Google search — that he actually learns how to do a Google search before making such a claim.

(And if someone has real information on a coach who might step down, go ahead and post that.  It won’t burn a source.  There are thousands of sources at every school.  Blind items for fun are one thing… blind items as “news” are something else entirely.)

There should be room enough for everyone on this here web without having to claim other people haven’t done their jobs, when they actually did theirs first.

As far as this site is concerned, if we say, “We told you so,” it means we told you so.  If we say, “We mentioned this as a possibility,” that means we mentioned the possibility, not that we “broke the story.”  And if we say we were first, it means we’re darn sure of the fact that we actually were first.

All it takes is a well-executed Google search to find who’s said what and when.

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Barnhart: UGA’s Richt Can’t Lose To UF Again

On a couple of radio shows this week I’ve been asked if Mark Richt faces a must-win game in Jacksonville this Saturday.  I’ve said no, because technically — given the way the East’s teams are playing and the injury to Marcus Lattimore — the Bulldogs could lose to Florida and still win their division.

If Georgia somehow wins the East and reaches Atlanta, it would be hard to fire Richt… even with another loss to Florida. 

But the fact of the matter is, that’s a technicality.  If UGA loses Saturday, it’s doubtful they would win the East. 

Perhaps that’s why longtime SEC columnist Tony Barnhart believes Richt faces a must-win scenario in this year’s Florida game.  At least the headline at says it’s a must-win game: “Losing another Cocktail Party would be last straw for Richt.”

So does Barnhart believe it’s win or else?

“Let’s just put it this way: Richt is 2-8 in his 10 meetings with FLorida and it would really, really help his quality of life if the Bulldogs did not stumble to the Gators again…

So Richt needs to win against a Florida team that is limping into Saturday’s game.  It doesn’t matter how good or bad Florida is.  It’s Florida.  Richt can’t go to 2-9 against the Gators.  He just can’t.”

While he doesn’t flat-out state that Richt’s goose would definitely be cooked with a loss (as the headline does), Barnhart clearly believes that would likely be the case.

And isn’t it Richt’s luck that UF had an open date to heal up and get their starting quarterback back?

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SEC Headlines – 10/12/11 Part One

Due to a trip to the doctor this afternoon, we’re going to go a little skimpy on the headlines today.  Sorry ’bout that but we’ll be posting a rather lengthy piece tonight to make up for it.

Until then, here are the top stories from around the conference:

1.  Quarterback Jeff Driskel was back at practice for Florida yesterday.

2.  Backup linebacker Dee Finley is planning to transfer from the Gator program.

3.  Mark Richt hopes the best is yet to come for Georgia’s improved defense.  (And now I’ll have this in my head all day.)

4.  Could the Dawgs be going to more of a ball control approach?

5.  Linebacker Alec Ogletree was back at practice for UGA yesterday (in a green no-contact jersey).

6.  Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders says he gave Morgan Newton a hug to help console the downtrodden QB.

7.  With tailback Josh Clemons now out for the year with a knee injury, UK has lost its most productive weapon.

8.  Tony Barnhart says yesterday wasn’t one of Steve Spurrier’s better days.

9.  Darrin Horn isn’t worried about positions, he just wants his five best players to be on the floor this season.

10.  Derek Dooley says freshman Tennessee linebacker AJ Johnson is a baller.

11.  The Vols’ coach doesn’t expect his team’s running game to suddenly turn a corner.

12.  Vanderbilt’s secondary has been getting the spotlight, but linebacker Chris Marve is off to a strong start, too.

13.  The Dores’ offense is last in the nation in third down conversion percentage.

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SEC Headlines 10/2/2011 Part Three

1. Texas A&M president on whether Mizzou will join the Aggies in the SEC: “I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

2. Pat Forde: Grief counselors needed for the SEC East?

3. Tony Barnhart on Alabama:  ”It may well be the best team in college football.”

4. LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu on Desmond Howard’s Heisman watch list.

5. John Brantley’s injury – “status for the rest of the season is in question.” Quarterback will be evaluated today.

6. As Big 12 withers, other conferences thrive with equal revenue distribution.

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