(Note: This article has been updated to account for the news that Manziel will be suspended for the first half against Rice.)
As we discussed our coverage plans for the 2013 college football season, the idea came up of incorporating a season-long, in-depth look at specific programs as a part our weekly content.
“Who are the four most interesting teams in the country?” Insider editor Dan Kaufman asked me during the summer months. “Let’s write about them.”
Here’s what we came up with, after numerous conversations that at times bordered on debates, for our “Core 4” teams:
What you see is a marriage between intrigue and accessibility. They are brand-name programs on the move that have not padlocked their facilities’ front doors, and should have interesting stories to tell regardless of where they end up in the win column.
I have visited all of the campuses in this calendar year. I have seen USC, A&M and Florida in the past couple of weeks and I will be in Ann Arbor for Week 2 versus Notre Dame. I will continue to drop in on those programs, doing my best to understand and communicate to you where they have been, where they are and where they are going.
We’ll get more into why we selected Florida, Michigan and USC later in the file, but for now let’s take a look at the biggest question in college football: What’s going to happen with Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M?
1. Texas A&M
COLLEGE STATION, Aug. 17-19 -- It has been a month and counting of purgatory for everyone in the A&M football building. Like you, they have not been quite sure how the Manziel-NCAA situation was going to go. They had displayed a recent air of confidence, but they didn’t know.
“I love Johnny, but the team is more than just Johnny,” one source close to the team told me recently. “We’re going to be fine. We just want to know.”