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A&M Flip-Flops Again On Value Of Manziel’s Heisman

Follow-UpOn November 1st, posted a story concerning the overall monetary value of Johnny Manziel’s Heisman win to Texas A&M University.  In it, the school claimed the award had brought in only about $20,000.  Several A&M officials made it clear in the report that Manziel’s win meant little in terms of sponsorship money, broadcast deals, ticket purchases, building campaigns, and even merchandise sales.

Yesterday, on November 4th, we pointed out the nonsense of those claims.  We also showed you that A&M had launched a post-Heisman campaign to cash in on Manziel’s win.  We showed you a number of Heisman-related items available for sale at Texas A&M’s official online store.  We also stated that it’s our belief A&M was trying to duck claims — correct claims — that it had profited from its player winning the trophy.  Obviously, all schools benefit from such exposure.

Today, on November 5th, Brent Zwerneman of The Houston Chronicle decided to dig into the exact same story from the exact same angle.  He basically recounts all of the things that we pointed out yesterday.  Like us, he even included a link to the original story.  Now, Zwerneman — whose work we link to all the time — didn’t feel the need to point out that another site — ours — had been the first to make these points or to ask these questions, but, hey, we get that a lot.  We drive business to other sites via links.  They refuse to return the favor.  Now we could be petty and call someone out for this — oh, wait, whoops — but instead we’ll link you right to The Chronicle’s piece… because Zwerneman’s done a good job of advancing the story.

Zwerneman writes that “based in part on a fan outcry that the athletic department suddenly seemed to be downplaying Manziel’s financial impact on the school,” — what could have caused a fan outcry yesterday? — A&M PR man Jason Cook went to the fan website — look, a link for them, too — and posted the following comments in the messageboard area:


“Foremost, this story was not a result of a press release or any behind-the-scenes strategy.  The reporter contacted us over six weeks ago with a thesis that Texas A&M is ‘making millions’ off Johnny Manziel.  As our fans know well, we are in the middle of a perfect storm in which many things — SEC move, Coach (Kevin) Sumlin, Johnny, the Texas economy, enrollment growth, law school — have all come together to elevate the Texas A&M brand.  Johnny has certainly been a major component and catalyst of our tremendous growth… No one denies this fact.”


Actually, the quotes from the story looked a lot like denials, but we’ll tackle that in a minute.  Cook continued:


“The reporter asked us for all kinds of data — licensing, football ticket sales, donations, media valuations, etc — which we provided.  We tried to communicate to the reporter that with so much change happening at one time, it’s hard to attribute our growth to any one factor.  Many factors are all working together.

Several weeks went by and the reporter asked me about the infamous (courtesy of the Darren Rovell tweets) football fundraiser dinner in which a donor paid $20k to sit at Johnny’s table.  I explained the situation to the reporter, particularly that we had many football players who were sitting with donors that evening under the same pretenses.  These dinners are quite commonplace in college athletics.  As you read in the article, that $20k was entirely misrepresented.  We all know that Johnny’s impact has truly been immeasurable.”


Well, not completely immeasurable.  As Zwerneman points out — links for everyone! – in January the school put a value of $37 million on the media exposure Manziel’s Heisman would bring to A&M.

Now, Cook — on behalf of A&M — says that Bloomberg misrepresented that $20,000 number.  Here’s how their story began (link provide up top):


“Texas A&M University made only about $20,000 from Johnny Manziel’s Heisman Trophy last season, according to the school.

Football tickets and suites were already sold out before the quarterback, a redshirt freshman a year ago, took a snap.  Radio, television and most sponsorship agreements were locked into long-term contracts.  Booster donations were largely tied to seat locations.

The only money that can be directly attributed to Manziel is $20,000 from a football fundraising dinner where donors paid to sit at his table, and a portion of the team’s $60,000 in royalties from the sale of football jerseys, said university spokesman Jason Cook.”


Seems pretty buttoned-up, doesn’t it?  Especially when others provided quotes like these (which we showed you and linked you to yesterday):


“People draw the conclusion that we make millions from Johnny winning the Heisman.  I’d say we’ve gotten more financial benefit from joining what’s widely perceived as the best football conference in the country and having a winning program.”  — A&M AD Eric Hyman

“If we had an 11-2 season, won the Cotton Bowl and he finished third, we’d be doing just as well because we already sold everything.” – A&M Chief Financial Officer Jeff Toole

“You can’t remotely say that.  The planning for the stadium started before we joined the SEC and before Johnny Manziel became our starting quarterback.  It was just an amazing coincidence of timing.” — Mark Klemm, campaign director for the Texas A&M Foundation, when asked if Manziel’s Heisman had led to the recent increase in giving


Cook said no one at A&M has denied the fact that Manziel “has certainly been a major component and catalyst of our tremendous growth.”  Well, you can read those quotes again and draw your own conclusions.

We stand by the opinion that A&M brass had become tired of hearing from the media and from Manziel’s family that the school was cashing in on the player.  So school officials downplayed the assertion to the Bloomberg reporter.  That’s put Cook in the position of having to put a spin on comments that were actually designed as a totally different kind of spin to begin with.

Of course Texas A&M has profited from Manziel’s Heisman win.  How could the school not?  So Cook is wise to give Manziel the attribution he deserves.

Attribution is a good thing.



Regarding tbear57's analysis.  The fire marshal and SEC rules limited seating at Kyle in 2012.  Prior to that they could and did seat students inside the wall behind the visitor bench.  Now they can't seat students within, what, 25 rows of the visitor bench?

Jameil Showers' record at UTEP is the splash of cold water we need to have regarding Johnny's contributions at A&M.  The move to the SEC was strategically well considered.  The firing of Sherman and hiring of Sumlin at least "turned the page" on the mediocrity of the late Slocum, Franchione, and Sherman tenures, but it wasn't guaranteed to be a success.  After all, Sumlin's successful years were all on the Art Briles quarterback in a successful system with decent recruits at Houston.

You can give credit to the coaching staff for exceeding expectations last year even without Johnny on the field.  But even the first game against Florida likely would not have been a close loss without Johnny on the field.  He is a signature player in a strategic year and had a signal performance as proven by the Heisman.  What's the value of that?  In the words of the Mastercard commercials:  priceless.


I have been an Aggie fan since the mid seventies and there is no doubt the exposure of A&M has never been greater. We are getting recruits that would never have given us the time of day in the past. Much of it, no doubt, due to the rise of Johnny Football to the pinnacle (or most hyped) of indiviual awards in college footbal. The hiring of Coach Sumlin was needed and welcomed after the mediocrity of the past few decades. However, the 100 year decision to join the SEC and the Ags prospects in the best conference in the land fueled excitement and face time before most had ever heard of JFF. Most everyone would agree it would be difficult if not impossible to put a dollar amount on the value of any of these historic changes. The one tangible measurement that might possibly tell the tale is butts in the seats. In 2011, our last in the big 12,  attendance at Kyle averaged 87,183. In 2012, when we were supposed to be doormats in the SEC West, attendance dropped a bit to 87,014. So far, with a returning Heisman winner and SEC and BCS championship hype, attendance is averaging 86,928. All three years averages are well over capacity under very different circumstances. Let's just agree that the Aggie brand is on the rise for exciting reasons. Gig Em! 


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