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Sprints Defends the Honor of the SEC Against Beat Writers, ESPN Bloggers // 02.26.13

You can't quibble with every ill-informed thing that every sportswriter says -- but sometimes the lack of research or awareness can't be ignored

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We try not to get too defensive around here. The SEC's been targeted for more vitriol than most conferences, for mostly the same reasons that the Yankees get targeted by baseball fans or some people root against the Cowboys. When you're popular and successful -- or, in the Cowboys' case, just popular -- people tend to come after you. But every once in a while, you have to respond. And there were a couple of things we had to respond to.

Okay, let's deal with this
I missed the original brouhaha over Johnny Manziel taking online courses and never really cared to revisit it, because it's largely people who don't understand higher education talking because they are paid to say something. And now some Texas media personalities are getting into the matter again. Gerry Fraley, take it away.

I don’t think he has any investment in this school from the mere fact that he’s taking online courses. He’s just there to do one thing, play football. I’ll be honest, I’m a little disappointed. I hold Texas A&M in a much higher regard than that. I thought they had a lot of quality kids who got the whole experience.

I'm not going to completely defend Manziel's reasons for sticking with online courses, because it gets a bit tricky when you're basically trying to avoid fans. On the other hand, I can understand where Manziel is coming from, and it's quite possible that the crowds he's drawing are unbearable and disruptive.

But the idea that there's anything wrong with Manziel taking online courses is absurd and ignorant of the trends in higher education right now. By one measure, a third of college students are taking online courses -- one third. Manziel is not an exception -- except, possibly, in relationship to the number of courses he's taking this way -- he's part of a trend. And online learning is garnering more and more acceptance among college and university administrators.

There are critics of online higher education, too, but the idea that Manziel deserves to be singled out for doing what millions of college students are doing every day just shows how much of a bubble some of the reporters covering sports live in. If you don't like online education in general, just say so. But don't blame Johnny Manziel; if anything, he's just following the crowd.

This you can criticize him for
Johnny Manziel has a corporation -- apparently, it's okay for an amateur to have a corporation under NCAA rules. Did not know that. In any case, Johnny Manziel has a corporation, and it is suing a guy who used the phrase "Johnny Football" on a T-shirt. Because Johnny Manziel is trying to trademark Johnny Football.

No one comes to mind immediately, but I find it hard to believe that no one in the nation has ever used the phrase "Johnny Football" before Manziel became a star. I'm not a huge fan of trademarking something pairing a common name with a common object.

Knock him for this, not for being one of 6.7 million.

Getting the band back together? For reasons passing understanding?
Jay Graham is headed to Florida State, having parlayed not screwing Marcus Lattimore up and not developing a star running back at Tennessee into a position-to-be-determined at Florida State. Graham appears to be a bigger loss in recruiting than actually coaching, and he's joining Sal Sunseri and Randy Sanders in Tallahassee. Because those guys also did wonders for Rocky Top.

More intriguing
Graham was set to see his pay bumped up to $300,000. Make of that what you will, at least until we find out if he was offered more than that by Florida State.

ACC writer concedes that SEC is better
The ACC just released its schedule -- which, whatever. About the only thing we learned is that South Carolina's Week 1 defeat of North Carolina will air on Thursday, followed that Saturday by Georgia's defeat of Clemson and Alabama's defeat of Virginia Tech. But while ESPN's ACC blogger is ticking off all the tough games that the conference is playing this year, she drops this gem.

Clemson is playing Georgia AND South Carolina. (Dear Florida: this is what a schedule looks like.)

Oh, you don't say.

So when Florida is playing two ACC teams (Florida State, Miami), that's less of "a schedule" than Clemson playing two SEC teams? I'll keep that in mind for the next round of conference supremacy arguments.

And when Clemson plays two FCS teams, that's more of "a schedule" than when Florida plays just one? Good to know.

No, SEC teams don't always play the strongest nonconference schedules in the world. But before you're going to take a shot like that, you might want to check out whether Florida plays as many games against BCS AQ teams as Clemson does. Especially since you could have realized that just by looking at the ACC schedules you're supposed to be writing about.

UVA, Boise State agree to home-and-home
Boise State will attempt to prove that it can play with the SEC by beating an ACC team.

No mas pantalones
Ricky Ray is just an educator when he's pointing out the difficulties he's faced at Mississippi State -- really.

"I'm not trying to remind anybody, I'm just trying to say what it actually is," Ray said. "I don't need people to feel sorry about what's going on for me or for our team. I'm not trying to garner, 'Hey, you do remember we only have this?' I'm just stating facts. I don't have an agenda behind it."

Except that when you say that, they only possible reason you could be stating those facts is to remind people of them. Otherwise, you wouldn't have to say them. Lobbyists also say they're just education lawmakers on the issue. There's nothing wrong with campaigning for your job or patience from your fan base, but just be honest about it.

The hits keep coming
Clint Hurtt has been charged with unethical conduct after the NCAA conducted an investigation it admits was unethical. C'est la vie.

I also want to clarify something that I think might be misread in my pounding on this issue: I don't have the least little bit of sympathy for Miami or any of the other people that get caught up in the Shapiro investigation. They did the crime, so they have no real right to complain about doing the time, even if it the NCAA didn't take the cleanest route to get there.

What matters to me is the credibility of the NCAA's investigations and the NCAA following its own procedures. Procedures are important, in some ways as important as making sure that a cheating program gets caught. If the NCAA doesn't have to follow some form of procedures, then the credibility of the organization will be destroyed and its ability to punish programs will be weakened.

That's also why I think Mark Emmert has to go. It's not so much whether he did anything wrong -- though I think he had a responsibility to keep much closer tabs on this high-profile an investigation than he did -- but a question of the credibility of the NCAA as long as he's leading it. I think it has none until Emmert's gone.

Billy Cannon is at home
Fortunately. Here's hoping that his recovery continues. Thoughts and prayers to the LSU great's family.