In this week’s Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Peter Fiorilla, asks our panel three questions: what they think of Johnny Manziel’s bizarre one-half game suspension by the NCAA, what this year’s most exciting NFL storyline is, and if the Red Sox are AL favorites after turning 180 degrees since last season’s embarrassing September collapse.
1. What do you think of the NCAA’s one-half game suspension of Johnny Manziel, star Texas A&M quarterback, for reportedly violating league policy by selling autographed memorabilia?
Chris: With all of the penalties that the NCAA gives to athletes, this is a mere slap on the wrist. In fact, a Texas A&M student was quoted saying she used to get timeouts longer than Manziel’s suspension. This was a common case of the NCAA being unsure of what to do, but knowing they had to do something. As of writing this, the Aggies are up seven at the half against Rice with Manziel prepared to enter the game after the intermission. He’ll likely crush the Owls, which is what everyone knew would happen. Therefore, the penalty was essentially nothing. While I do think Manziel shouldn’t be selling memorabilia, I think he gets a bad rep for everything he does. He’s just a college kid trying to have fun. Can’t we all relate? But when he does something, he does have to be reprimanded, and the NCAA let him off the hook big time.
Greg: I personally do not believe “Johnny Football” should have been suspended for any amount of time. The reason for this is because there is no indisputable evidence showing that he clearly was paid for signing memorabilia. This brief suspension, if that’s what you want to call it, was an absolute joke and an impulsive act based on the speculation that Manziel did get paid. Speculation is a dangerous thing, and the NCAA did not handle this situation well, basing their petty suspension all on assumption. If the NCAA wanted to make a point, they would have found the evidence needed to punish Manziel and suspend him for an extended period of time.
Julie: I think the NCAA’s suspension of Johnny Manziel is appropriate. As a collegiate athlete representing not only himself but Texas also A&M, he should be aware of the league policies and abide by them. Violating the policies that athletes agree to upon signing to play a sport for a school is a violation of the game’s integrity, as the quality of play is overshadowed by financial schemes.
Greg wins for his anti-NCAA convictions, Julie gets 2 points for taking the road less traveled & Chris gets 1 point for pointing out Manziel is still just a kid in college.
2. Coming into the first week of play, what do you think is the most compelling NFL story to watch out for?
Chris: Tebow getting cut from the Patriots! No, just kidding. I’d have to say the thing I’m most interested in is the performance of the second-year starting quarterbacks. Last year, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick all took their teams to the playoffs (with Kaepernick going to the Super Bowl) in their first year starting. These four players have a huge amount of influence on their respective franchises, and that’s four playoff teams and two Super Bowl contenders. It will be interesting to see if the QBs can avoid a sophomore slump and continue their success. Wilson and Kaepernick have a huge help from their defenses, but the fact remains that these players can each drastically affect the NFL landscape for the next 10 years, let alone next season. Will the read option continue to work? Can Griffin III stay healthy? Can Luck cut down his turnovers? These are all pressing questions that I am very interested to find the answers for.
Greg: As with the start of every NFL season, there are several intriguing storylines that are extremely compelling. This year, the one I feel deserves the most attention is the success of read option quarterbacks (Wilson, RG3, Kaepernick) throughout the NFL. This is the first full offseason defensive coordinators have had to plot against fast-paced, dual-threat quarterbacks, and it is interesting to see if these offenses will be as successful as they were in the following year. There is much debate about if this new style of QB play is replacing the prototypical packet passer, which I believe it is not. Even though many polls have the likes of Seattle, San Francisco and even Washington toward the top of power rankings, do not be surprised to see the offensives of these teams decline from a year ago, whereas teams with pocket passing QBs (Denver, Atlanta, New England, New Orleans) will continue to improve and end up with the Lombardi trophy.
Julie: I’m not very compelled by the NFL, but I think it’s pretty interesting that Joe Flacco stated that Manziel is “quickly becoming my favorite player in college football.” Despite the controversy over Manziel’s suspensions and illegal actions against the league, Flacco is looking to turn the college football conversation back into sports-related talks, rather than illegal, financial affairs.
Greg wins for talking about the recent trend of read option QB’s, Chris gets 2 points for saying how many good sophomore QBs there are & Julie gets 1 point for talking about Flacco.
3. How have the Red Sox had so much success this year, and are they favorites to come out of the American League playoffs?
Chris: The Red Sox have had a phenomenal bounce-back season, and they certainly are for real. If Clay Bucholz can get healthy, they would have a stellar playoff rotation with Jon Lester, Jake Peavy and the resurgent John Lackey to go with their potent offense. However, the Detroit Tigers should be considered the AL favorites. Nevermind the fact that they have the largest run differential in the majors with ace Justin Verlander having an average year by his standards, but they’re playing their best baseball right now. Last year, the Tigers were in cruise control during the regular season and made it to the World Series. This year, they’re playing like the best team in the AL, and that’s because they are the best team in the AL. Combine Verlander with assumed Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and the lineup led by Miguel Cabrera, and the talent is all there. I could see a Boston-Detroit ALCS, but when you have arguably the best hitter and pitcher in baseball, you have to be considered the favorite.
Greg: One of the major keys to the Boston Red Sox success this year is their consistent hitting. Besides the Detroit Tigers, there is no team in baseball that manufactures more runs and gets on base more than the Red Sox. With a very balanced lineup, the BoSox can beat a team every way possible, which makes them dangerous against any pitcher in any park. Couple this with an above average overall pitching staff, and the team is one of the top contenders in the American League but does this make them the AL favorite? I think not. Detroit in my mind has to be the favorite as long as Cabrera stays healthy. In almost every facet of the game, hitting, pitching and fielding, the Tigers are just a little bit better than the Boston. They have a higher team average, more runs scored, more homeruns, lower team ERA and commit fewer errors than the BoSox. With more experience, better rotations and an even more consistent lineup, do not be surprised to see Detroit in the World Series this October.
Julie: The Red Sox are the favorites to come out of the American League playoffs after having had so much success this year with the Mike Napoli and Johnny Gomes producing well. Their trade to acquire pitcher Jake Peavy has helped along with Dustin Pedrioa and David Ortiz continuing to hit well.
Chris wins for talking about the potential of Boston’s rotation, Greg gets 2 points for pointing out Detroit’s superior stats & Julie gets 1 point for mentioning the Peavy trade.
Greg wins Around the Dorm, 8-6-4