SEC BUZZ

THE SCOOP

Will the reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel play Saturday when No. 7 Texas A&M opens the season at Rice amid allegations that he received payment for autographs?

It was the only thing anyone really wanted to talk about Tuesday when the Aggies addressed the media. The topic, however, was off limits.

Athletic director Eric Hyman said Monday night that he instructed everyone in the program not to talk about the situation. Pesky reporters asked anyway, and coach Kevin Sumlin responded by saying: “We’re not discussing that.”

ESPN, citing an anonymous source, reported that Manziel met with NCAA investigators for six hours Sunday about allegations from memorabilia dealers that he accepted payments for autographs. CBSSports.com, also citing anonymous sources, reported that Manziel told the investigators he didn’t take money for his autograph, which could violate amateurism rules and put his eligibility in question.

SLIDE, SLIDE …

Don’t be surprised if Missouri quarterback James Franklin seeks the path of least resistance this season. He’s under orders.

The Tigers were 5-7 in their first season in the SEC, their first without a bowl trip since 2004, and it didn’t help matters that Franklin missed four starts and was almost never close to 100 percent. He was still recovering from shoulder surgery when preseason workouts began, and during the season was dogged by knee woes, a concussion, cracked rib, broken fingers and a few pulled muscles.

Franklin ran for 15 touchdowns his sophomore season and remains a threat. Coaches, however, would much rather see him scamper out of bounds or execute a stylish slide.

QUOTABLE

“The biggest thing for us right now is, these kids have not been successful. You’ve got to change that. The sooner we’re successful together, the easier the transition is going to be. It’s just human nature, Until we have success together, there’s always going to be that little lack of trust or lack of buying in. That’s human nature. The earlier we have success, that obviously will enhance everything.” — Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson about his Auburn defense. The Tigers are coming off a 3-9 season and lost the final three games a year ago by a collective score of 138-7.

DEBUTS

  • Ole Miss: Freshman defensive end Robert Nkemdiche of Grayson High will have plenty of company as a starter Thursday night against Vanderbilt. First-year freshmen Laquon Treadwell (wide receiver) and Evan Engram (tight end) are on the Rebels’ depth chart as first-teamers. Two others, Laremy Tunsil (offensive tackle) and safety Tony Conner (safety), expected to contribute.
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    Tennessee: Marquez North (wide receiver) and Cameron Sutton (cornerback, Jonesboro) already have won starting spots for new coach Butch Jones. Josh Smith (wide receiver) is listed as a co-starter alongside redshirt freshman Jason Croom. Dylan Wiesman (guard), Malik Foreman (cornerback) and Devaun Swafford (nickel back) are on the second team. None of the six were on campus for spring practice, but did arrive for summer.

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Compiled by Ray Cox

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