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2013 college football: From Manziel to Winston, overreactions rule

One day we may actually call him Johnny Manziel, NCAA pioneer. (USATSI)
One day we may actually call him Johnny Manziel, NCAA pioneer. (USATSI)

Johnny Football was a bum.

Miami was railroaded by the NCAA.

Oh, and Jameis Winston had no off-field issues at all.

If you believe any of those things absolutely, well, that was kind of the problem with 2013. Perspective took a holiday. Overreaction was overworked.

That overreaction usually meant you were either were unmoved, or worse, uneducated.

See, that perspective thing works both ways.

Which it should, of course, but for many reasons discourse lost its way in '13. This year marked a nasty passage in time and not just because of the nasty unfiltered unfilterings of Twitter.

While we weren't looking, Twitter/Deadspin/Fox News/TMZ -- there are more -- created a mentality that we take a stand. If that stand didn't agree with Nancy Grace, then bad for you. The layered, thoughtful, measured gray of any discussion lost traction this year.

College football was not untouched by the ranting ravings of ranters. Coaches are now just realizing an uncomfortable present that is sure to be their future: Any misconduct caught on tape in any way magnifies the "transgression by 1,000. It's actually called the Pelini Effect.

Just kidding, Bo, but some advice for 2014: Try to keep some things to yourself.

The problem was defining any of the issues, at least in black and white terms. Johnny Manziel was largely portrayed as a bum at the end of a wild offseason when he reportedly signed scads of autographs for what was reportedly money.

That all changed for me -- and others -- when they started playing football, particularly when Manziel threw five touchdown passes against Alabama. By then, it didn't really matter if the then-underage Johnny Cocktail had a drink or two at the Manning Passing Academy.

It didn't matter that the NCAA's moral sword of justice came down in late August, slicing exactly one half of one game from his season. Guess what? In the new iteration of the soon-to-be restructured NCAA, autographs-for-money just may be allowed.

In 2014, outrage over paying players could be morphing into common sense before our eyes. Who knows? One day we may actually call him Johnny Manziel, NCAA pioneer.

By Oct. 22 it was hard to remember that Miami actually did cheat. That wasn't much of a debate the day the infamous Nevin Shapiro case ended. The issue was the degree to which the NCAA had screwed up the investigation. It helped make Miami and Shapiro sympathetic figures.

It's still difficult to look at Jameis Winston the same way we did on Oct. 17. But that all is -- difficult.

Since that time it was discovered Winston had been accused of sexual assault. A state's attorney office found there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute.

The kid is a pleasure to be around. He deserved the Heisman. But I've also read the 86 pages of the investigative report released to the public. There may not have been enough evidence to proceed, but Winston does not come away from that reading with an All-American reputation.

Mention that stance, though, on Twitter right now and you're likely to be eviscerated by some. What 2013 didn't teach us: It's OK to have reservations short of condemnations.

Let's go back to the first BCS standings of 2013. There was the typical freaking out when Alabama and Florida State debuted 1-2. Never mind that history taught us only twice in the previous 15 years had the top two teams remained that way.

Some folks forgot about Auburn. Me, for starters. I wrote in September that Bama had jumped its biggest hurdle of the season at A&M.

Does that make me a bad person or Auburn the best story of the year?

(Or both?)

In college football, as in everything else, opinions and perceptions can change every day. Just wish they were allowed to. In that sense, we've lost our way.

A year ago Everett Golson had led Notre Dame to the BCS title game. Today, he is reenrolled at ND, an admitted academic cheat.

In April, Tony Barnhart told us Georgia Southern was ready for the big time. Florida didn't listen.

The ACC went from almost being disbanded because of conference realignment to ending conference realignment.

A four-team playoff has yet to debut and we're already talking about doubling the field.

During this bowl season, the madness has continued. They wanted to fire Colorado State assistant Greg Lupfer for cursing at Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday. Admittedly, there was a gay slur involved in there. But Colorado State acted quickly, suspended Lupfer for two weeks without pay. Lupfer will undergo anger management counseling.

Shouldn't that be enough?

There are more examples, course. But in this new year let's hope there is enough room in tiny minds to allow us to expand ours.

 
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