The SEC news today, which we’ll get to shortly, is another testament to the league’s cult of personality.
For better or worse, the huge profile of college football’s most dominant conference rests not on its institutions but on its icons. Alabama, which has Bear Bryant in its history books and stacks of national title trophies in its offices, is holding its breath because coach Nick Saban and his agent might be batting their eyes at Texas. Auburn is holding its breath because former coach Pat Dye said another cringe-worthy something, and there’s no telling when he might stop and no one seems to have the authority to tell him to stop. Texas A&M, a fairly proud school it would seem, is holding its breath because it might have hurt the feelings of its Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and his family.
The schools themselves, it seems, are no longer driving this bus, and, while there’s no question that Saban’s skill at his job (and Dye’s before him) and Johnny Manziel’s unique talents have helped set the SEC apart and fattened the coffers of the league office, it’s worth wondering if maybe the colleges in college football need to assert more control over the process.
The most recent Saban story has more teeth than the last few because it is based on an email written by a former University of Texas regent telling another regent that Saban’s agent said the coach would only consider leaving the Tide for Texas. Saban, according to the email, feels “special pressure,” at Alabama.
Expect Saban to have a response at some point today and expect it to be, ahem, brief.
Dye, apparently, called the three quarterbacks who played for Auburn last year “cowards” during a speech in Knoxville, because, you know, blaming the teenagers for a bad season seems like a good idea I guess. This Alabama columnist has called for Dye to make a public apology… and to hush.
The Aggies, whose athletic department is led by former USC athletics director Eric Hyman, seemed to downplay the role of Manziel’s Heisman win on the department’s budget in a Bloomberg.com article.
“People draw the conclusion that we make millions from Johnny winning the Heisman,” Hyman told Bloomberg. “I’d say we’ve gotten more financial benefit from joining what’s widely perceived as the best football conference in the country and having a winning program.”
Now school officials are calling the Manziel family to say they do value what he has meant to the school.
In actual football news, James Franklin may be ready to take back his starting job this week against Kentucky, Georgia will not rest running back Todd Gurley before the Auburn game, and Tennessee’s new starting quarterback is really, really smart.