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JOE BIDDLE: Media Days means football's near

The smell of college football is in the air.

Tennessee’s annual Davidson County Alumni Big Orange Picnic was scheduled July 18, 24 hours after first-year coach Butch Jones joined players Antonio “Tiny’’ Richardson, Ja’Wuan James and Jacques Smith at SEC Media Days in Birmingham.

If a barbecue dinner and SEC Media Days don’t get your football juices flowing, I don’t know what it will take.

As I write this column on the eve of Media Days, here are some points of interest.

Q: Since four names of dismissed Vanderbilt football players have now been made public, how hot will the topic be at Media Days?

A: Oh, it will be hot, but don’t count on coach James Franklin to fill in the blanks for the media. Nor will the teammates of the four players who were kicked off the football team and suspended from Vanderbilt.

The names were released Monday. Brandon Banks, former Ensworth player Cory Batey, Jaborian “Tip’’ McKenzie and Brandon Vandenburg will not appear on this year’s roster. The decision was made after an alleged sexual incident that involved a 21-year-old female who was a Vanderbilt student and also worked part-time at the university. It allegedly occurred in a Vanderbilt dorm room.

The Vanderbilt police handed the alleged incident off to Metropolitan Police’s Sex Crimes Unit, in accordance with a memo of understanding between the two law enforcement agencies.

No charges or arrests had been made by Monday night, but until that does, or doesn’t, happen it has cast a pall over the football program as it comes off back-to-back bowl seasons under Franklin.

Vanderbilt officials should inspect its current admissions policy, especially if these athletes would not have been admitted to Vanderbilt if they had been students without ability to play football.

Q: What is going on between the ears of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel? 

A: Great question. Monday, the Texas A&M quarterback went to court to plead guilty to a 2012 charge for disorderly conduct and possessing a fake driver’s license. Manziel was facing up to 180 days in jail. He was taken to jail after a fight he was involved in, along with a friend of his and a 47-year-old man.

He was fined $2,000 and sentenced to two days in jail, along with paying $230 in court cases.  

It was reported over last weekend that Manziel, a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy, was asked to leave camp early because of partying too much, thus missing assigned meetings and practices. Manziel’s father said his son left on his own and was recuperating from dehydration.

Fox Sports reported pictures of Manziel and Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron at a bar before Manziel left the camp. Additional pictures showed Manziel later that night out on the town in College Station.

There is no question Manziel is Hollywood stuck in College Station.

One blog-site poster put it this way: “He’s the Justin Bieber of college football. Too much, too soon, too stupid, too spoiled.”

OK, it might be penny ante stuff, but Manziel has to learn he is a Heisman Trophy winner and with that comes certain responsibilities.

Q: Will there be any relevant football questions asked?

A: Very few, as preseason preview books have been out more than a month. Sports talk radio shows have been filled with preseason predictions and will be breaking down each day of fall practice.

The only thing to wait on is the first kickoff.

Sports Columnist Joe Biddle is a four-time sports writer of the year in Tennessee and a 2013 inductee to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. He can be reached at

Posted on: 7/18/2013


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