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Water-cooler topics: Colts, A&M player, Big Ten plans

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What do online classes, Dwight Freeney and the Tar Heels have in common?

They are part of three water-cooler topics for your consideration today.

Big man online

If you want to catch a glimpse of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel walking around the Texas A&M campus, you are going to have to wait until next fall.

Manziel, while still a student, is nowhere to be found, except for a few cameo appearances.

That is because the freshman quarterback is taking all his classes online this spring. He is required to be on campus only once a month.

Johnny Football was taking one face-to-face class while pursuing his sports management major but dropped it after one meeting.

“I went one day — it was a small class of 20 or 25 — and it kind of turned into more of a big deal than I thought,” Manziel told a local paper.

The first freshman ever to win the Heisman finds the privacy welcome.

“How are you supposed to act after that happens, when you have 3½ years of college left?” he said.

It also is testimony that belies the notion that premier college athletes are just students who happen to be athletes.

One study suggests that Manziel generated $37 million in media exposure for Texas A&M last season.

No word on whether part of the quarterback’s online requirement is pretending to be himself in a video game.

No retirement home

With the release of Dwight Freeney, the Colts have wiped clean the four huge banners that first adorned the outside walls of Lucas Oil Stadium.

Marvin Harrison. Released.

Bob Sanders. Released.

Peyton Manning. Released.

Dwight Freeney. Released.

The complexities of injuries, salary cap room and roster dynamics in today’s NFL underscore a cold reality. The days when a player can start and end his career in the same city have long passed.

Even prolific long-snapper Justin Snow and All-Pro center Jeff Saturday could not buck the trend. In the case of Saturday, it is at least heartening to see a symbolic return so he can retire as a Colt this offseason.

Of the current Colts — the vast majority of whom were not here last year at this time, let alone during the two Super Bowl runs — only Reggie Wayne may buck that trend. That is because the wideout turned down a bigger payday last offseason to remain in Indy.

Accounting issues aside, as Wayne’s career begins its decline, it is hoped that he will prove to be the exception.

Meanwhile, it is time to get working on replacing those banners.

B1G math

Ten was a great number for decades; 12 was OK; 14 just feels like a stepping stone. That is why speculation continues to swirl around possible additions to the Big Ten.

North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia Tech are the latest to be mentioned in published reports.

Of course, the requisite denials have been issued. But that is also what was heard from Maryland and Rutgers before they became the 13th and 14th conference members (effective in 2014). The media source for this latest rumor also correctly predicted that move.

With Texas and Notre Dame seemingly off the table (never say never in this game of collegiate musical chairs fueled by TV dollars), the three schools mentioned have the cache and media markets as well as the requisite academic standing. Florida State has been mentioned elsewhere as a possibility.

While any imminent move seems unlikely, the look East by the conference appears to make sense both in terms of schedule balance (16 teams) and financial prospects.

We are long past the point of putting the Big Ten genie back in the geographic bottle. (Note to purists: have you noticed that the unbalanced basketball schedule allows IU to avoid rematches against the only two conference teams to which it lost?)

The other shoe has dropped in the Big Ten. Four times in fact. Listen for another pair.

Bob Johnson is a correspondent for the Daily Journal. His columns appear Tuesdays and Fridays. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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