Awkward Nick Saban Photo Is Pretty Awesome

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This 2011 shot may be a cardboard cut-out of Nick Saban.
At its best, a major college athletic department is about synergy.

When you compete against the Goliaths of your sport in all sports, teams at a school need to be helping the other teams. All for one, one for all. (Add here whatever other cheesy, motivational slogan about togetherness that you can think of.)

Being the head coach of a perennial championship program brings an even added burden of giving back. Call it a rub, call it osmosis, call it the "magic touch," but if you're a championship coach, the other coaches at your school will and should want to tap into whatever strand of DNA it is that allows you to compete at such a high level.

Nick Saban knows this. I think. I'm pretty sure he knows this.

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Kliff Kingsbury Launches the Debate: Which College Football Head Coach Is the Best Dancer? (VIDEO)

Photo by Don O'Brien
A lady killer like Kingsbury?
Every year, there's a weeding out process in college football, where the certain percentage of head coaches are cut loose, retire, or move onto other endeavors. The coaching carousel begins spinning and schools that fired their coach generally begin looking for something the opposite of the guy they just let go.

Schools that fired an offensive guy look for a defensive guy. Schools that fired an energetic spaz look for someone more stoic. Schools that had Charlie Weis or Mark Mangino look for someone thin.

And around and around we go.

However, Texas Tech may have completely changed the game with last year's hire of Kliff Kinsgbury.

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NCAA Must Be Worried College Football Players Won Bid to Unionize

The walls closed in a little further on the NCAA on Wednesday.
After decades of exploiting football players as highly inexpensive labor, the clock may be officially ticking on the NCAA.

Last year, it was the class action lawsuit settled out of court between college football players (past and present) and EA Sports for video game royalties. The Ed O'Bannon lawsuit still dangles over the head of the NCAA like a guillotine ready to sever the head and allow billions of dollars to flow freely.

And on Wednesday, perhaps the biggest whack at the NCAA piƱata came from suburban Chicago, as Northwestern football players, led by former quarterback Kain Colter, were granted by the National Labor Relations Board the classification of "employees" of the university and, therefore, granted the right to unionize.

This, friends, is a game changer.

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The Johnny Manziel Dunk Show (w/ VIDEO)

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Manziel Pro Day is this week.
When Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles conducted his Pro Day last week in Orlando for virtually every NFL team, it was on the heels of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's less than stellar Pro Day the week before. So when Bortles went out and tore it up (he was reportedly pretty damn impressive), some attributed the show he put on to motivation.

To use ESPN's Ron Jaworski term, Bortles "smelled blood in the water."

So this Thursday, the final third of the 2014 Quarterback Triumverate, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, will have his Pro Day, and I'm sure it'll be a circus. If Manziel is the competitor he is reputed to be, he like Bortles, smells an opening to pass up Bridgewater on the Texans' big board.

Well, if Manziel's Instagram account is any indicator, he's not waiting until Thursday!

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Johnny Manziel Is in New McDonald's Commercial With LeBron James

Golden arches pitchman.
I have no idea what kind of NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel is going to be. I think he's going to be good. Really good. But the fact of the matter is none of us know.

Well, if corporate partnerships are any indicator of how good a player is going to be, Manziel is probably going to throw for 5,000 yards his rookie year, because at Johnny Football, LLC, the brand is the business and business is good!

A week or so ago, it was Nike. Now, McDonald's is part of Team Johnny! Monday afternoon, the internet got a hold of LeBron James' latest McDonalds commercial, which includes an appearance from one Jonathan Football! (Advice: Don't blink, you might miss it.)

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Johnny Manziel Gets Paid (And Is Allowed to Acknowledge It)

Johnny gets paid, and can talk about it.
All right, I'll admit it. This feels weird.

Over the last year and change, we've become so used to casting a skeptical eye toward everything involving Johnny Manziel and any sort of renumeration or benefit.

Courtside tickets to NBA playoff games? Must be some booster behind it, right?

Golf in Pebble Beach? Had to be there on somebody else's dime, right? (Actually, he was. His parents'.)

Several thousand pieces of memorabilia signed by Johnny last summer? He had to be getting paid, right? (Ok, that last one probably deserves a skeptical eye.)

Well, Thursday officially marked the dawning of a new era -- Johnny Manziel got paid, and there's nothing the NCAA or anyone else can do about it.

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Eyeballs, Page Hits, and the Struggle with Covering Michael Sam

Photo by Marcus Qwertyus
Making football sense with Sam coverage.
Michael Sam's day at the combine finally came this weekend, and predictably it was covered ad nauseam.

The media horde surrounding the podium when it came time for Michael Sam to speak was reportedly the largest of anybody all weekend, no small feat when you consider that Johnny Manziel is part of the same draft class as Sam.

The sheer volume of those covering Sam's story is understandable given that he is about to be the first openly gay NFL player. Whether you agree or disagree with his lifestyle or the importance it carries, this is a huge story.

Still, when the coverage of Sam crosses over from a provocative look at the human side of being openly gay in a very non-gay workplace to flooding us with coverage of Sam's actual workouts as if his actual on field play calls for it -- again, he's forecasted to be a third day pick, keep this in mind -- it's just really awkward and insulting to a sensible person's intelligence.

Let me give you an example.

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Zapruder Analysis of Tom Brady's Combine Video in 2000

Screen grab: Youtube of ESPN combine video
Brady went on to become a great NFL quarterback and a lover of a Brazilian model.

This Saturday at Rice Stadium, SportsRadio 610 is conducting our first ever NFL style combine. The event runs from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and the plan right now is for all of the hosts and many of you listeners to participate in most of the various events (sorry, no bench press, meatheads) that the NFL runs at its annual combine (which happens to be this weekend also, in Indianapolis).

Bud Light is sponsoring the event and you have to be 21 or older to be there, so you can put two and two together on one of the big differences between our combine and the NFL combine. (inking-dre!)

Well that and the NFL combine has actual athletes.

(By the way, you can still sign up -- and get a free t-shirt by pre-registering! -- at

I bring up our combine-largely-made-up-of-average-overweight-middle-aged-males (partially to give it a shameless plug) as a jumping off point for some perspective on the actual NFL combine.

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Greater Houston Football Showcase Helps High School Kids Realize College Dreams

Photo by Brian Austin
High schoolers give it their all at the Greater Houston Senior Football Showcase

Check out our slide show of the 6th Annual Greater Houston Senior Football Showcase.

Later this week, the NFL Combine begins in Indianapolis. It's quite the spectacle, as hundreds of prospects gather in one place to participate in drills with the hope of furthering the pursuit of their dream to continue playing football and create a better life for themselves and their families.

That's the big business version of the "combine experience."

This past weekend at the Methodist Training Center here in Houston, a different version of the "combine experience" took place. The dream was essentially the same -- to keep playing football as a means to a better life. While it was done on a far less publicized scale, it was just as important to the participants.

The participants were area high school seniors, and the event was the Greater Houston Senior Football Showcase.

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NFL Draft 2014: The Jadeveon Clowney Rule

Draft begins.
Houston Texans safety D.J. Swearinger was at a community appearance on Thursday morning at Harvard Elementary School. As these normally appearances go, Swearinger spent a few minutes talking to the media about football, the Texans, and the state of the union in D.J.'s world.

With Swearinger one season removed from patrolling the secondary for the South Carolina Gamecocks, naturally, the conversation steered toward Swearinger's opinion on his former teammate and top draft prospect, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Not surprisingly, Swearinger was effusive in his praise for the 270 pound beast:

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