Back Nine: Aggies need quick ruling on Manziel

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is still under NCAA investigation for allegedly receiving improper benefits with the Aggies less than two weeks away from their Aug. 31 opener against Rice in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo)

Published: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 19, 2013 at 6:16 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you knowing that college football season is so close you can smell the cheap cigars and spilled bourbon and cokes. I've got to learn to appreciate every day and not want them to be over so fast.

10. You kind of get an idea about the culture surrounding Johnny Manziel when you hear the Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp rail about how players should get paid for signing their names. He's not alone by any means. And Manziel is not the first college football player to put his eligibility in jeopardy by signing for multiple brokers. But this isn't a question of whether or not the rule is fair or just. That's a separate argument. This argument is about Manziel and whether he accepted money OR the promise of money once he turned pro. It's against the rules, and that's all that matters. And he knew it was against the rules. Look, you can go all Wesley Snipes on us and not pay your taxes because you don't believe it's right. Guess where you'll end up? The biggest question to me is what Texas A&M is going to do if the NCAA doesn't clear Manziel to play by the opener. I'm sure there are some Aggie fans who will say, “Let him play. We'd rather watch Johnny Sharpie play, even if it costs us down the road.” And the more pragmatic fans will say, “We don't want forfeits, and we don't want sanctions. Look at what they did to Southern Cal.” I'm guessing A&M is going to fight hard to get a ruling before the opener, but if it doesn't, well, you're rolling the dice Kevin Sumlin if he suits up.

11. Let me first say I am a believer there is a place for preseason polls. I heard different people rail on them again after the Associated Press poll came out, that we should wait until four or five games in. But really, how does a preseason poll hurt anything? It's just something to talk about. And it's the AP poll, which is just this side of irrelevant because it's not used in the BCS equation. With all that said, I was a little disappointed in the AP poll, because it appears the voters put about as much thought into their polls as they did what to have for lunch. It was almost a duplicate of the coaches' poll, and many of the coaches admit they basically have their sports information guy put together a consensus of the preseason mags. The top 10 of the AP poll was the same as the coaches' poll except that South Carolina and Texas A&M were switched. And the final 10 spots were exactly the same. How about some effort?

12. In the AP poll, there were some strange votes because Tennessee and Arkansas each got a 25th-place vote. That meant that 11 of the 14 SEC teams received votes. Auburn, Missouri and Kentucky were the only ones who didn't. I asked on Twitter which of those three would get votes during the season and Auburn was the favorite. I'm not seeing that because the Tigers face Washington State, Mississippi State and LSU in September, and unless they are a whole lot better they won't be able to generate any early momentum.

13. Earlier this month I talked to safety Jordan Haden about finally playing at The Swamp. Haden, the brother of former Gator Joe Haden, signed with Florida in 2010, but left before playing a down for the Gators. He transferred to Toledo but had to sit out two years because he didn't enroll there early enough. “It won't be weird,” he said of playing at Florida Field. “Football is what I do. I'm going to take it as another game.” Unfortunately, Haden suffered a broken collarbone last Thursday and will be out four weeks, so he won't get the chance to run out of the tunnel here.

14. Auburn and Missouri named their starting quarterbacks over the last few days, which leaves us with only Kentucky as an unknown. Mark Stoops has hinted he may not let the public know until kickoff. All I know is this — Western Kentucky will have a schematic advantage with Bobby Petrino as their new coach. The Wildcats had better come to play no matter who their quarterback is. Petrino owned Kentucky when he was at Louisville, the game is at a neutral site (Nashville) and WKU beat the Wildcats last year. That is an under-the-radar game I'll be paying attention to on opening week.

15. Frustrated by the play of his offensive line this week, Steve Spurrier was at his zinging best Saturday night, questioning whether or not his linemen are afraid to block Jadeveon Clowney. “Playing offensive line is really people who like to compete, take some pride in doing their job,” he said. “We got some soft guys, there's no question about that.” It was reminiscent of a time when he was coaching at Florida and someone asked about his offensive line. “We've got a lot of fat guys like Pat and Robbie,” the ball coach said. I wonder who those two guys were.

16. I tried to give the new Fox Sports 1 a try this weekend as it launched the network Saturday. And I'm sure it will get better. But everything I saw was unwatchable. It actually reached a point where I turned the channel and my wife said, “No, put it back. It's funny.” But it wasn't supposed to be. I think one of their sports anchors went to the William Shatner School of The Pause For No Good Reason.

17. The Tweet of the Week goes to a football guy talking about baseball, but when I read this from the NFL Network's Rich Eisen it seemed to perfectly summarize the whole A-Roid mess — “So manager backs up player who accused him of sabotaging his career for management he's filed grievance against while hitting HR for? Right?”

18. The iPhone has been going strong even though there is nothing more frustrating than plugging in my mophie for the night and waking up to see it lying next to it unplugged. Who are these demons who come in during the night to unplug it? Show yourselves. I'm sure they'd like these downloads — “Miss Jackson” by Panic! At The Disco, “Come A Little Closer” by Cage the Elephant and for an oldie “Morning Has Broken” by Cat Stevens.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at

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