- Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports20 mins ago
The Dan Wetzel College Football Podcast returns for its fourth season and welcomes longtime regular Clay Travis, proprietor of OutKickTheCoverage.com and insider for FoxSports1.
• How the college football playoff will impact the season … and seasons to come.
• Thoughts on the selection committee and the disappointment that no one with a math background or ties to a Las Vegas sports book was included.
• The exciting opening week, including high-profile games such as Texas A&M-South Carolina, Boise State-Ole Miss, Florida State-Oklahoma State and LSU-Wisconsin.
• Whether Wisconsin is a dark horse to reach the four-team playoff, and the importance for the Big Ten to start strong in non-conference play to bolster its reputation and not get left out of the postseason.
• Whether the committee will properly view Michigan State’s trip to Oregon next week (especially if the Spartans suffer a close loss).
• The state of the SEC and whether Alabama is being slightly overrated because of its name.
• The likelihood of Florida State repeating.
- Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports12 hrs ago
This is the first weekend of a new era for college football – the playoff era.
The dynamics of how a championship is chased have changed and no one, not even the 13-person selection committee that will pick and seed the field in early December, can accurately predict exactly how the process will play out.
There are various messages about the process, an abundance of politically minded people on the committee (opposed to stat- or math-based) and the promise of a troublesome weekly pool. While there is a vague promise to honor "strength of schedule," what that means in practicality remains to be seen.
It's a major upgrade for the sport, but trying to figure out how this season might unravel is a crapshoot.
Except one truism will likely remain: the importance of schedule is huge.
So, it seems obvious that no matter the lack of preseason hype, No. 14 Wisconsin is a real contender to reach the playoff and not just because coach Gary Andersen has a potentially excellent team on his hands.
- Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – There is a self-serve smoothie bar outside the head coach's office here at Penn State.
Obviously, this is new. It should not surprise that Joe Paterno did not have a smoothie bar during the 46 years he lead the Nittany Lions before being dismissed in 2011 following the indictment of Jerry Sandusky. Here's guessing it never even crossed his mind to install one. He might not have even known what a smoothie was.
Bill O'Brien didn't have one either, perhaps because Paterno's immediate successor arrived from the New England Patriots to take over a program already reeling from the scandal, only to see it unexpectedly leveled by unprecedented (and unfair, most say around here) sanctions from the NCAA.
O'Brien was the perfect man for an impossible moment – keeping the program on track with professionalism and stoicism as he held off transfers, lobbied the NCAA for a return of some scholarships and basically established a calm (and some victories) amidst the storm. Frozen treats didn't seem to fit into the moment, though.
James Franklin, 42, brought the smoothie bar to a campus known for its ice cream.
- Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports7 days ago
After what could reasonably be deemed the worst quarterback competition in recent NFL memory, Brian Hoyer has been named the Cleveland Browns’ starter.
That leaves Johnny Manziel on the bench to begin his NFL career, a place that is probably best for him in the long term and will be temporary unless Hoyer improves dramatically in the regular-season opener against Pittsburgh.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Johnny Football is how he handles a bit of adversity in a career that, from small-town superstar at Kerrville (Texas) Tivy High School to a Heisman-winning first season playing for Texas A&M, has always been charmed. For once, at least thus far, his unique, bravado-filled style of play didn't find a way to win out in the end.
Manziel is the first to say he needs to keep working to get better, but how he handles the second string remains to be seen.
- Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports8 days ago
LANDOVER, Md. – Jogging away from the Washington sideline after a third-quarter incomplete pass, Johnny Manziel said he heard a barrage of trash talk behind him.
So without ever turning around, he threw his right hand in the air and gave his hecklers an over-the-shoulder, middle finger. He looked unfazed by the encounter, neither better nor worse afterwards.
Not that it went over well in the culture of the National Football League, thus becoming the point of discussion after Washington's 24-23 preseason victory here Monday.
"It does not sit well," Cleveland coach Mike Pettine said. "It's disappointing because what we talk about is being poised and being focused."
"You just got to know the cameras are always on," fellow Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer said.
"Well, I wouldn't have [done] it," Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden said before laughing.
- Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports8 days ago
LANDOVER, Md. – Johnny Manziel didn’t have much of a preseason game for the Cleveland Browns on Monday, but he did exhibit his trademark bravado when he held up his middle finger at the Washington Redskins' bench after a third quarter incompletion.
It came just moments after Manziel eluded a pass rush by scrambling toward Washington's sideline and fired an incompletion. Perhaps hearing heckling from the sideline, he responded by holding his middle finger aloft over his shoulder as he ran quietly back to the huddle.
The sign was seen clearly on ESPN’s broadcast of the game.
Manziel finished just 7-of-16 for 65 yards passing in a game that hardly established him as the breakout starter for the Browns. He managed an early fourth-quarter touchdown, an 8-yard pass to Dion Lewis, but was sacked three times and had a number of poorly thrown balls.
Manziel was on the receiving end of some antics too. Washington linebacker Brian Orakpo heckled him after Manziel got sacked in the first quarter, doing Manziel’s signature "money" sign.
- Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports18 days ago
At the start, this had been about finding someone to stand up and say the excuses were nonsense, the rhetoric was empty, to say the NCAA was just making it up as it went along.
It was about Ed O'Bannon wondering how the NCAA could partner in the release of a basketball video game featuring classic college basketball teams, including his 1995 UCLA squad, featuring a player that clearly was him – "my number, left-handed, looked like me," O'Bannon said – only to claim it wasn't him.
It was about Harry Flournoy, a starter on the historic 1966 Texas Western basketball team, seeing the NCAA, decades later, cash in on the story of the first all-black starting five to win a national title against establishment backlash (including, the players believed, the NCAA itself). They did it by suggesting that somehow Flournoy had relinquished his rights by signing some paper in El Paso way back when.
"Really?" Flournoy said. "Go find it, what paper? I never signed anything like that." Even if he didn't, the NCAA said, they had the power to assume the right to his likeness in perpetuity.
- Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports23 days ago
In the final seasons the sideshow overwhelmed the actual show, the circus of the end, return, end, return, end of Brett Favre’s career making people forget how great he once was.
Maybe that’s what can change as Favre enters the curtain call era of his life, starting with his induction into the Green Bay Packers’ Hall of Fame in 2015 and the retirement of his iconic green and gold No. 4. It will continue, almost assuredly, with a first-ballot entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
It’s time. More than time, actually, for a guy who helped define the league for nearly two decades to be remembered more for that and less for the soap opera that engulfed him.
"Wow, I'm speechless," Favre said Monday in a media teleconference. "I can't thank you enough. I'm honored. I mean that from the bottom of my heart."
In a sport defined by toughness, Favre may have been the toughest of them all, starting every game at quarterback for over 18 seasons, an NFL ironman record 297 regular-season games (321 if you count the playoffs, and why they don’t is anyone’s guess).
- Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports26 days ago
ALLEN PARK, Mich. – So here are some of the options when Matthew Stafford, who's merely thrown for 90 touchdowns and nearly 15,000 yards over the last three seasons, takes a snap here at Detroit Lions training camp.
He can look to his best guy, or anyone's best guy, in Calvin Johnson, a 6-foot-5 target that caught 12 TDs in just 14 games last year, which was great, unless you compare to the 16 he hauled in 2011.
He can skip that and go to his newest guy, a true No. 2 receiver in the freakishly strong Golden Tate, who snagged 64 passes for Seattle last year. "He catches everything," Stafford marveled later. Every pass that way, draws attention away from Megatron.
"When Golden starts doing what he does," Johnson told reporters earlier this week, "they can't double both of us."
They also can't cover everyone underneath, which is why Stafford can always target one of his oversized tight ends, 6-5 Brandon Pettigrew, who caught 83 passes a couple years back, or 6-4 Eric Ebron, a gifted athlete and first-round draft pick out of North Carolina.
- Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports1 mth ago
BEREA, Ohio – Cleveland Browns fan Matt LaVelle showed up at the first day of training camp wearing a jersey with "Johnny DawgPound" taped across the back. It was a bit of refashioning he did prior to May's NFL draft in the hope that Johnny Manziel would be Cleveland's pick.
Manziel was on the field here Saturday, creating the expected frenzy, or "buzz," in the parlance of Johnny Football. Yet the more LaVelle and his friend watched the side-by-side drills featuring not just Johnny, but of the zipping, accurate throws of the actual No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, Brian Hoyer, something kept sinking in.
Yes, he's a Manziel fan …
"… but I like what I'm seeing out of Hoyer," LaVelle said of the low-key, local veteran (Cleveland St. Ignatius High School). Hoyer is a Michigan State product that spent three years backing up Tom Brady in New England. When he finally got a chance to start last year for the Browns, he looked good in three games before injuring his knee.