News Column

Tipsheet: Winning Is Everything in SEC

August 9, 2013

Texas A&M puts up with all this Johnny Football nonsense because SEC football is extremely big business.

With Johnny Manziel at quarterback, the Aggies are national title contenders. Without him, they might win seven games. That is a zillion dollar difference.

So the school decided to lawyer up as the NCAA came poking around Manziel's business, which may have included signing autographs for money.

LSU faces the same dilemma with star running back Jeremy Hill. Actually, it is NOT a dilemma at all -- Hill will keep playing, despite myriad off-field issues that make him a very poor representative for an institution of higher learning.

Hill is a difference-maker. So rather than suspend him, LSU coach Les Miles allowed the team to vote on his fate.

Naturally the Tigers wanted Hill playing this season, which kicks off with a challenging game against TCU.

"I'm sure if it was some opponent they'd beat by 100 points, they wouldn't have a vote," TCU coach Gary Patterson said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "It's not my worry. I've got to play whoever they put on the field."

TCU defensive end Devonte Fields won't play in that game. He violated team rules, so Patterson suspended him for the first two games.

"My whole team would vote Devonte to be back on the team because they all want to win," Patterson said. "That doesn't teach life lessons."

No it doesn't, but then again TCU isn't in the SEC. The competitive pressures in the SEC are far greater than the Big 12, the Big Ten or anywhere else.

Tipsheet doesn't excuse Texas A&M or LSU for putting business first. In this corner of cyberspace, we recognize the reality for what it is.

Was Auburn going to suspend Cam Newton amid reports that his father demanded big money for him during recruiting? Don't even think of such a thing.

Was South Carolina going to dump quarterback Stephen Garcia after his fifth suspension from the program? Not until his play slipped and he fell to No. 2 on the depth chart.

There are tickets to sell, games to win, donors to appease. As for the whole teaching life lessons thing, SEC coaches can delegate that to the professors.


Questions to ponder while waiting to see if Carlos Martinez can give the Cardinals a badly needed lift:

Does making fun of Alex Rodriguez ever get old? [ -reel_sport]

Will Mark Sanchez ever live down the butt fumble? []

What would some player postcards from NFL training camp look like? []


Here is what some of America's leading sports pundits have been writing:

Chuck Culpepper, Sports on Earth: "Damnation, what a moment. It's a major. It's a course players extol in such detail that you know they aren't talking horsepucky. The rankings go Tiger-Phil-Rory. The rankings further than that go Tiger-Phil-Rory-Rose-Scott. The No. 2 player comes off a British Open in which his last back nine floated above golf and sport and came to resemble art. The No. 1 player just won by seven on a storied course. Three of the top five players form the traditional major-winning grouping for this PGA Championship. Even the No. 3 player remains intriguing through a lousy year, just because -- because he's Rory McIlroy. Only a misanthrope could hate this thing, maybe run around the tree-heavy grounds at Oak Hill wishing for an exposed anti-aging clinic or a storm around a quarterback signing autographs in a socialist system. It's all so rich, you almost wish they didn't have to start, to start the inevitable dilution."

Farrell Evans, "The PGA Championship is the most fun of the four majors. It's unpretentious and fair with a venue that always rewards good shots. It's not that the other majors don't have flashes of brilliance or excitement, but the PGA is more intentional about bringing fun into its formula. The Masters is unique for its setting at Augusta National. The golf course is the tournament. The U.S. Open is the People's Open, supposedly the hardest major to win, where par is not to be condensed and spat upon. The Open Championship is links golf: quirky and a little goofy to the eye, but the oldest of the bunch. The PGA has the distinction of being the last major of the year. It's the pro's major. Your hotshot club pro has a chance of playing alongside the game's best if he can finish inside the top 20 in the PGA club pro championship."

Robert Lusetich, "How desperate is Rory McIlroy to arrest his slump? He's going over tape of his record-breaking, eight-shot victory at last year's PGA Championship in the hope that he can find that young champion again before Thursday's opening tee shot at Oak Hill . . . McIlroy is essentially hoping to trick himself into being the player he was before a devolution that reached rock bottom at last month's British Open, when he shot a 79 at Muirfield and conceded that he was 'brain dead' on the course. What has he noticed of the young man in the tape, who this time last year not only won his second major by eight shots but would go on to win two of the four FedEX Cup Playoff events as well as his Ryder Cup singles match and then made birdie at each of the last five holes to win -- by a single shot -- the European Tour's season-ending event in Dubai?"

Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports: "They're having fun here. This is a novel concept in Kansas City, where the Royals have been so awful for so long fun seemed like a cipher. And the numbers always seemed to add to more and more losses, more worthless Augusts and Septembers. The crowd here at Kauffman Stadium broke out into the wave Wednesday, practically an involuntary reaction after all those years of boredom and disappointment. Like the men in the clubhouse, they, too, are re-learning how to have fun. Friendly suggestion to crowd: The wave is not necessary. It takes getting to know the team, which Kansas City is doing. The television ratings here are bordering on absurd. Over the weekend, nearly 10 percent of the homes here watched a Royals-Mets game. On Monday, for a Royals-Twins game, it was more than 10 percent. A great sports city has been asleep for almost three decades. This is what happens when it awakens."

Gregg Doyel, "The United States doesn't have to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. But we have to consider it, don't we? I mean, we have to at least think about it. Don't we? This story won't go over well with those of you who aren't on board with the gay rights movement. I understand that. And lots of people -- most people -- probably will object to our Olympians being used as pawns in a sociopolitical game of chess. And I understand that. What I don't understand, not even a little bit, is Russia's announced intention to deport or jail anybody who 'goes onto the street and starts propagandizing' on behalf of gay rights. In other words, no protests against Russia's hateful position that gays are essentially subhuman. No waving a rainbow flag. What about holding hands? Is that 'propagandizing' on behalf of gay rights? Can US figure skater Johnny Weir -- a 2014 medal hopeful -- give his husband a peck in public without being sent to prison? This is awful, and there are no good solutions. A boycott of the Sochi Games in February would be terrible, a rotten blow to our athletes who have trained for years to compete. It would also threaten their livelihood going forward. For many of them, the 2014 Games is their chance to make an impression on the public, market themselves, set themselves up for whatever comes after retirement. But Russia has pretty much announced that it's illegal to be openly gay. What if Russia announced it was illegal to go onto the street and start propagandizing for the rights of black people? Or Jewish people? We would boycott the Sochi Games then, right? Right?"


"One of the things that drew me to coming over here was the makeup of the team. When I came over here, I was kind of brainwashed. There's no 'kind of' to it. Being over in Green Bay, you're brainwashed to think anyone in the division is tiers below. It's like everything that you know in Green Bay is like the best, the best, the best, the best, the best," Jennings continued. "And it's like total brainwashing. And I think you don't open your eyes to see what other teams have to offer unless you are in that position, and I was afforded this position."

Vikings receiver Greg Jennings, to KFAN radio, on leaving the rival Packers via free agency.


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