Downs & Distance

NCAA went on wasted witch hunt with Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Johnny Manziel

Jim McBride’s four items of interest on this week’s college football landscape:

Johnny go lightly

So Johnny Football has been suspended for the first half of Texas A&M’s season opener against Rice because he “inadvertently’’ signed his Johnny Hancock too often and the NCAA believes somebody — maybe Manziel, maybe not — profited from those autographs. The punishment — if it can be called that, I know a 14-year-old boy who’d be thrilled if I was that lenient when he missteps (sorry, Shamus) — caps a tumultuous and busy offseason for the Heisman Trophy winner (was there a major sporting event or Piggly Wiggly grand opening he didn’t attend?). About the only good thing that comes from the end of another wasted NCAA witch hunt is that college football fans can finally stop hearing about it.

Toothless Tiger

While we’re on the subject of weak disciplinary measures, how about LSU coach Les Miles (when isn’t he swirled in controversy?) letting his team decide the early season fate of star running back Jeremy Hill? Miles reinstated Hill (who was convicted of misdemeanor battery and probation violation after a bar fight) after the team voted to allow Hill to return. He left it up to the team and they voted in favor of one of their best teammates? Shocker! Miles’s decision was widely criticized (check out the quotes from TCU coach Gary Patterson, who faces LSU in Week 1). Here’s hoping Miles rights his wrong and suspends Hill — you know, at least for the first half of Saturday’s game.

Agent of change


There’s plenty of reason for optimism at The Heights as the Steve Addazio era begins with Saturday’s tilt against FCS opponent Villanova (who knew Bobby Bowden was doing the Boston College schedule?). Addazio has promised lots of changes as he looks to turn around a program that has fallen on hard times. One thing that won’t change is the quarterback as Chase Rettig returns for what seems like his eighth year as the starter. Rettig is coming off an impressive statistical season, throwing for 3,055 yards and 17 touchdowns. While Addazio will lean on Rettig to lead the offense, the defense could carry this team early with eight returning starters.

Tressel on Zip line

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It’s still surprising that Jim Tressel hasn’t been given another chance to coach a big-time program since leaving Ohio State in early 2011 after Tattoo-gate. Tressel, who led the Buckeyes to a national championship, was so powerful and popular that when OSU president Gordon Gee was asked if he would fire Tressel during an NCAA probe, Gee quipped, “I’m just hoping the coach doesn’t dismiss me.’’ Now comes rumors that Tressel could be considered as the next president at the University of Akron, where he is vice president of strategic engagement. This would be a huge coup for the Zips, as Tressel’s popularity would translate into huge fund-raising dollars. Plus, he could help out with the football team (which lost last season to UMass. Yikes!).

Jim McBride can be reached at