Monday, September 22, 2014


Game Day

Fife is the one with the bullet

9/4/2013

FIRST DOWN

Oh, Lord, the jokes. They’re coming fast and furious now, like Stephen Colbert on the wrong end of a Red Bull enema.

                  Q: How do you tell the difference between Barney Fife and the NCAA?

                  A: Fife is the one with the bullet.

                  And this:

DM Art Center

                  Q: How many NCAA enforcement officials does it take to screw in a light bulb?

                  A: Zero. It turns itself in.

                  Or my personal favorite:

                  Knock, knock!

                  Who’s there?

                  The NCAA!

                  (Silence.)

Clothes, the emperor has. It’s stones that he lacks.

Johnny Manziel is a free man, unless somebody trips over a giant paper trail. Or oh, you know, agrees to talk.

A month ago, anonymous autograph peddlers went harping to ESPN, claiming that Manziel, the quarterback at Texas A&M and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, had received thousands of dollars as compensation for Johnny Football’s Johnny Hancock.

But when the NCAA strapped on the waders and decided to go digging, two things happened:

1. Anybody who had to take part in the investigation — that is, Manziel and Aggies officials — denied any wrongdoing.

2. Anybody who didn’t have to take part — that is, the rest of the free world — told them to get bent.

Just a stab in the dark here, but without witnesses, you don’t have much of a case. And without actual, honest-to-goodness subpoena power, you’re not much of an enforcer.

That’s why we love the NCAA: The comedy never ends. The strike zone is never the same, week to week, school to school. The goalposts are always moving, the way they do in those lowbrow video games at Buffalo Wild Wings that your 2-year-old always wants to try and play.

Superman has kryptonite; the NCAA has the Birmingham, Ala., law firm of Lightfoot, Franklin and White. A few years ago, they kept Cam Newton eligible long enough to win Gene Chizik a national title, so, naturally, A&M officials reportedly retained them as legal counsel once the charges against Manziel started piling up. Meanwhile, Johnny Football’s family hired Texas-based attorney Jim Darnell, and the ducking, weaving and denials began in earnest.

On Aug. 8, Darnell told USA TODAY that Manziel would “be the starting quarterback for the Aggies against Rice” in A&M’s season-opener.

He was wrong, as it turns out, but not by much. Manziel was indeed suspended for the epic clash with the Owls. For a half.

College Station cackled. America face-palmed. The gift keeps on giving.

Don’t try to explain it; they’re making it up as they go. If you try to connect the dots, you eventually wind up one of those tumbleweeds that used to follow Snoopy’s brother around in the old “Peanuts” cartoons.

In 2010, then-Georgia (and now Bengals) wideout A.J. Green was suspended for four games — eight times what Johnny Football got — for selling his own personal memorabilia: A signed, game-worn jersey. The jersey in question was from the 2009 Independence Bowl, a contest in which the Bulldogs beat… A&M.

It’s the kind of stuff that would make a grown man cry. If he weren’t laughing so damn hard first.

 

THE BIG EIGHT

Ranking the best eight teams in the Big 12 and Big Ten, one through eight…

TEAM (RECORD*) / UP NEXT

1. Ohio State (0-0*) / vs. San Diego St.

2. Oklahoma State (0-0*) / at UT-San Antonio

3. Oklahoma (0-0*) / vs. West Virginia

4. Texas (0-0*) / at BYU

5. Kansas State (0-0*) / vs. La.-Lafayette

6. Wisconsin (0-0*) / vs. Tennessee Tech

7. Baylor (0-0*) / vs. Buffalo

8. Michigan (0-0*) / vs. Notre Dame

(Note: * = Records as of August 29)

 

ONE MAN’S RUNNING HEISMAN BALLOT:

1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: Assuming he’s not ejected the next time he accidentally almost decapitates an opposing ball-carrier.

2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State: Assuming the Buckeyes go out and run the table. Which, on paper, they should.

3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Assuming he’s fully recovered from that half-baked, half-a-game slap on the wrist from the suits in Indianapolis.

 

SET YOUR TIVO:

The games you won’t want to miss…

1. South Carolina at Georgia, ESPN, 3:30 p.m.: Crazy things have happened, as of late, whenever the ’Cocks get between the hedges. Roll with the over: The last two SC-Bulldog tilts in Athens (’09; ’11) have seen the two rivals combine for an average of 82.5 points.

2. Texas at BYU, ESPN 2, 6 p.m.: On paper, Mack Brown’s Longhorns are supposed to be for real; in person, though, it often ends up being a different story. Texas has won 12 straight true road openers but lost their only previous trip to Provo, back in 1988.

3. Notre Dame at Michigan, ESPN, 7 p.m.: Two old-money programs that you absolutely love to freaking hate, but they make for good, compelling TV: The last four meetings have been decided by an average of 4.8 points. CV

Sean Keeler is a columnist/blogger with FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports. In 2011, the Iowa native was named one of the Top 10 sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors. You can read him at www.FoxSportsKansasCity.com and at www.FoxSportsMidwest.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@seankeeler) and through his Tumblr blog: seankeeler.tumblr.com.

Upper Iowa