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An Open Letter To Johnny Football

manziel-si-coverYesterday ESPN The Magazine — with all its sister Bristol-based tentacles (radio, TV, telegraph, two cans and a string) — brought you a hyper-inside look at Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and his family.  The story told of a growing rift between the family and the school.  It put the spotlight on the young man’s drinking — he’s 20 — and his temper, as well as his stated desire to just find some normalcy in his life.

Today, SI.com has posted its own feature on Johnny Football.  He’s even on a regional cover of the magazine itself.  Of course, if you want to read it, you’ll have buy “a digital version of the issue.”

No, thanks.

But while reading yet another piece on Manziel, we at MrSEC.com thought we’d provide him with a few tips that might make his life a bit easier in the months to come.  If ESPN’s piece yesterday showed us anything, it’s that the kid appears to be all on his own.  No one, it seems, has ever told Manziel “no.”  Growing up with money and with parents who won’t even wring his neck for flinging clubs across a golf course, A&M’s star quarterback seems to have reached the conclusion that anything goes.  Without consequences.

Sadly, for all the incredible work Kevin Sumlin has done in College Station, he too seems to have failed Manziel.  The coach could have banned him from Twitter long ago.  He did not.  And Twitter has helped build the crazed following Manziel is now trying to escape.  Twitter has been a self-admitted distraction for the QB.  And Twitter has led to trouble in the form of angry messages about College Station and photos of celebrity living that have become a headache for A&M’s compliance department.

So with the 20-year-old getting no direction from anyone else in his life, we thought we’d try to provide a little guidance our own selves.  Before doing so, we must acknowledge that Manziel has to want to help himself.  We are dubious of his desire to do so.  Does the quarterback really want to get back to a normal life or does he want all the perks that go with being a hip Heisman-winner — celebrity friends, trips all over the country, etc — minus the negatives?  I think most 20-year-olds who’ve never been taught about actions and consequences and who don’t understand the so-called “price of fame” would prefer to take the buffet approach to celebrity.  “I’ll keep this trip to a Drake concert in Canada, but I’ll leave the people asking for autographs.  I’ll keep the great seats at the NBA finals, but I’ll leave the questions about how I got the tickets.”

Adults know that life doesn’t work that way.  Manziel isn’t a mature adult yet.  And the mature adults in his life aren’t helping matters.

So here’s our attempt to lend a helping hand to a college student who’s trying to navigate super-stardom all by his lonesome:

 

1.  Johnny, take the next nine months and become a hermit.  Drop off the grid.  If you want to lose the paparazzi-like aspects of fame, you’re going to have to surrender some of that fame.  That means no jet-setting until after the NFL draft.

Need to unwind?  Have some buddies or teammates over to your place.  Don’t get sucked into an all-night frat party.  Don’t get your photo snapped at every bar in town.  In general, just “don’t.”

By going the monk route for nine months you’ll be showing NFL scouts that you’re serious about football and that you have control of your own life.  Fair or not, each week it seems more and more apparent that you’re spinning out of control.  It happens.  There’s a reason so many child stars find young adulthood to be difficult.

So buckle down, focus on A&M’s 2013 season, and prove to NFL owners that you won’t be a risky pick next April.  Just nine months, Johnny.  Heck, consider yourself pregnant with the goal of delivering a heavy, healthy pro contract.

 

2.  Take advantage of your new low-profile lifestyle and use some of your newfound free time to get back on your therapist’s schedule.  There’s nothing wrong with talking to a professional about your life, your stresses, your frustrations.  It’s a good thing to try and find avenues other than alcohol to relieve stress.

If you don’t like the therapist you were seeing before, find another.  For a guy who’s living in a fishbowl, it would be good for you to have one person in your life who can be trusted to keep his mouth shut about time spent with Johnny Football.

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ESPN The Magazine Tackles Manziel Mania

johnny-manziel-holds-ball-smilesLet’s see.  Johnny Manziel is now the focus of a new piece from “ESPN The Magazine” writer Wright Thompson.  There’s some interesting stuff in the piece, but a few Texas A&M fans have let me know that I should stop writing about Johnny Football.  In their maroon-glazed eyes, it’s clear that I hate their quarterback.

What to do?  What to do?

Well, as an SEC site I guess we’re gonna have to go ahead and share some of the juicier tidbits from the new profile.  And we’ll give you our take — including how those around him are failing Manziel — at the bottom of the piece.  Among the key takeaways:

 

*  Playing golf with his father — in the hopes of easing the frustrations of living under the media (and social media) microscope — Manziel angrily flings a club after a poor shot.  That leads to this passage from Thompson:

“Paul (Manziel’s father) sees the club toss but doesn’t say anything.  Not yet, not until he clams his own anger and frustration.  Johnny needs to grow up or risk losing his future, and every thrown club, or ill-advised tweet, reminds his father how far they have to go.  Paul is scared.

‘I don’t enjoy playing golf with him because I don’t want to see that temper,’ he’ll say later.  ‘I honestly do not.  I cringe when he wants to play golf.  I don’t want to do it, but I know I have to do it.  Because he still needs love.  He still needs guidance.  He still needs to see he’s wrong — and how to control his temper.  And if I give up on him, who’s gonna take over?  The school sure the hell isn’t gonna do it.”

Uh-oh.

 

*  Of the parking ticket incident — the one Manziel turned into a national story by tweeting that he looked forward to getting out of College Station — Thompson quotes Manziel’s father as saying the local police “are harassing him.”

 

*  Somehow this next one managed to fly under our radar.  After Manziel’s “I can’t wait to leave” tweet, A&M’s student newspaper ran a column headlined: “Johnny, Be Gone.”  The opinion-piece urged Manziel to leave after the upcoming football season.  Now that was probably one college student columnist overreacting to the tweeted overreaction of fellow student, Manziel.  Still, that’s the kind of thing that would most definitely get under the skin of an athlete who’s putting his body on the line for their shared school.

 

*  Manziel has hired a high school buddy to act as his assistant and manager, “handling media requests and helping coordinate the bodyguards from Houston whom Johnny’s parents would like them to hire whenever they go out, making sure there’s someone around to defuse a confrontation before it begins.”  That friend — upon reading a story about Manziel’s near suspension from A&M a year ago — said, “That’s someone in the school talking.”  Thompson writes:

“He’s suspicious about this story, which credits an unnamed source.  Nate thinks Texas A&M is leaking on its star quarterback, and in the end it doesn’t even really matter if that is true or not.  there’s been a growing rift between the school and its most important student.  It’s not just Nate’s paranoia about the story, or Johnny’s frustrations with the nonfootball, marketing expectation of the school, or his father’s sense of injustice that everyone makes money off his son but his son.  The rift is more profound.  Many people close to Johnny Manziel no longer believe in the integrity of the institutions charged with protecting him.”

Hmmm.  Think now that Kevin Sumlin should have helped his QB by banning him from Twitter?  This is a young man with a temper.  A young man with a temper who likes to have a cocktail or two.  Mix in Twitter and that’s a volatile combination.  If Sumlin — or Manziel’s parents — had barred Johnny Football from Twitter, we would have never heard of his desire to leave College Station.  He would have never grown frustrated about the reaction to his tweet.  The Manziel Mania that surrounds him wouldn’t be so great if 400,000 people weren’t following his every move via that social media platform.

If Sumlin or Manziel’s parents had had the foresight to say “knock it off,” the circus around the quarterback today would not require so big a tent.

(On a sidenote, you gotta wonder what former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia will think when he reads this piece.  Aggie AD Eric Hyman certainly rained on Garcia’s parade in Columbia.  While the quarterback brought quite a bit of his troubles on himself — don’t we all? — he’ll likely not be surprised to find that the Manziel family has lost faith in an athletic department run by his old AD.)

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A&M’s Sumlin Once Again Shoots Down NFL Talk

kevin-sumlin-atm-shirt-smileWith the NFL importing a number of offensive tactics, styles and even offensive-minded coaches from the college ranks these days, it’s no surprise that Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin has been mentioned as a potential candidate for future pro football openings.  What is surprising is that after just five years of head coaching experience — five very successful years — Sumlin has become the hottest NFL prospect in the country.

As Sumlin improved his resume last fall, speculation about a potential departure from College Station grew.  Naturally, he’s had to calm the fears of Aggie boosters this offseason… as he did this past weekend in Houston:

 

“(A year ago) We had a coach who was a ‘Conference USA coach’ who had a gimmick offense that couldn’t (work) in the SEC with a team that couldn’t even win the Big XII.  We were in over our head as a university and with its coach…

All of a sudden this year that same coach is going to leave and go to the NFL.  How does that happen?  I didn’t believe that (stuff) from last year and I don’t believe it right now.  I love it here, you guys know that…

Maybe later — some time later (he’ll try the NFL).  But it won’t be any time soon.  My family likes living here and I like living here.  Heck, we just got here.  People ask me to respond to the (NFL tak) and I say, ‘You’ve go to be kidding me.’  Because I remember what was being said at this time a year ago.  I didn’t really respond to that last year, and there’s no reason to respond to this now.”

 

Three quick observations:

 

*  It’s pretty clear that Sumlin pays close attention to what’s being said about him and his program.  Some guys tell you that they don’t listen/read “that stuff.”  Sumlin does.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  But it’s obvious he’s motivated by the slights and jabs others throw in his direction.

*  While I’m sure those kind of barbs about a “Conference USA coach” and a gimmick offense probably appeared on an SEC messageboard or two, I can’t remember any of the SEC media ever suggesting that A&M would fall flat on its face.  When the Aggies jumped conferences, a number of national writers and quite a few columnists within the Big XII footprint — especially in the Lone Star State — predicted doom and gloom.  At this site, however, we’ve likened TAMU to a pre-Nick Saban LSU — ie: an untapped gold mine — from the outset.  Turns out, Sumlin struck gold sooner than anyone could have imagined thanks in large part to his handing a pick axe to a redshirt freshman quarterback named Johnny Manziel.

*  As for the NFL talk, well, Aggie fans probably shouldn’t get their hopes up too high.  Coaches always say they’re in it for the long haul, yet guys move every year.  Chip Kelly loved Oregon right up until the point that the Philadelphia Eagles made him a splashy offer (and NCAA investigators started closing in on him).  Does that mean Sumlin will be 88 and out the gate come spring?  No.  But I wouldn’t bet a half-dollar that he’ll be back in College Station this time next year, either.  Situations change and coaches move.  Aggie fans should just enjoy the present.  If Sumlin does reverse field and leave A&M after another successful campaign this fall, AD Eric Hyman won’t have any problem finding someone else to take over a program that boasts rabid fans, good facilities and a deep recruiting pool.

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SEC Headlines 7/18/2013

headlines-thuSEC Football

1. Official launch date announced for new SEC network - August 21, 2014.

2. Gator Bowl finalizing agreement with SEC as “anchor team.” Bowl has finalized deals with ACC and Big Ten to serve as opponents.  Same setup at Music City Bowl

3. LSU plays Florida and Georgia from the East.  Alabama plays Tennessee and Kentucky.  ”That’s the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it.”

4. Did Kentucky coach Mark Stoops diss the Georgia Bulldogs? “On our side of the division, certainly you have to look at Florida and South Carolina.”

5. What’s the status of three A&M players arrested this offseason?  Coach Kevin Sumlin says decision will be made at  ”an appropriate time.”

6. Johnny Manziel may be ready to leave College Station.  Not so lineman Jake Matthews. “ I just love the atmosphere and the feeling of College Station..”

7. Manziel wins an ESPY award as the best male college athlete. What would life be like at the Johnny Manziel football camp?

8. Jadeveon Clowney wins an ESPY for his hit on Michigan’s Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl.

9. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray doesn’t fear Clowney – but he does respect him.

10. When asked about defensive ends, two Tennessee linemen both mention Florida’s Ronald Powell.

11. In defense of Missouri quarterback James Franklin: “He shouldn’t be a divisive figure or a target but a rallying point…”

12. Bernie Miklasz on Dorial Green-Beckham and Missouri’s depth chart:  ”I’m more concerned about the real games, not the depth-chart games.”

13. It’s no secret that Arkansas coach Bret Bielema wants players out of Texas.  ”There are a lot of good players in Texas, and if certain schools in the state aren’t doing that great, it opens up an avenue for us to get into.”

14. Bielema on the team’s new football center: “I’m not saying we’re going to be the top in the country, but we’re definitely in the upper division now…”

15. JUCO-transfer defensive tackle Lavon Hooks looks to make an immediate impact at Ole Miss.

16. What’s it like to work at the Alabama student paper? “Football is everything…Teachers, students, administrators, everybody is tuned into the football team.”  Want proof?

SEC Basketball

17. Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin getting a $50,000 raise.

18. Former Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow granted immediate eligibility at Georgia State

19. With the departures of  Trevor Lacey and Devonta Pollard, Alabama down to nine scholarship players.

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Sumlin Won’t Say That He Forced Manziel Off Twitter, But He Did

TAMU MEDIA DAYSAsked about Johnny Manziel’s disappearance from Twitter in recent weeks and whether or not the coach was involved, Kevin Sumlin says there was “a discussion” between the two and then, after the “can’t wait to leave College Station” tweet made news.  He pointed out that Manziel dropped off the social media site soon after.  In other words, “do the math.”

After rambling a bit — which Sumlin does often — the coach wrapped up the situation thusly:

 

“Obviously the discussion after the last tweet… he hadn’t been on there since then.  He hasn’t been on there for the last month.  So obviously there was something to that discussion.”

 

The smile on the coach’s face said, “Yep, I told him to stop tweeting.”

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Assault Charges Await Two Texas A&M Starting Defensive Backs

mrsec-breaking-newsThe Texas A&M player who intercepted Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron with less than two minutes left in last year’s game and helped seal an Aggies win is facing assault charges.

21-year old Deshazor Everett and teammate Floyd Raven Sr., also a defensive back,  face misdemeanor assault charges punishable up to one year in jail.  Raven turned himself into authorites this morning and is expected to be processed and released on $4,000 bail. The Bryan-College Station Eagle says Everett is aware there’s a warrant for his arrest but it’s not clear when he would turn himself in.

The charges stem from a dispute with two men at an apartment complex in College Station. The men were reportedly struck in the face by Everett and Raven and more than $500 in damage was done to a 2008 Chevy Tahoe when the players reportedly pounded and kicked the vehicle.

Both Everett, a hero of the Alabama game, and Raven were listed as starters coming out spring practice.

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Reported Tweet From Johnny Manziel: “Can’t Wait To Leave College Station”

Once again, Johnny Manziel finds himself making news and it has nothing to do with football.  This time, it’s our old friend Twitter and a reported tweet that Manziel apparently sent out in frustration early this morning.

 

Bull**** like tonight is a reason why I can’t wait to leave college station…whenever it may be (screenshot here)

 

That tweet quickly disappeared from Manziel’s feed and was followed up by this one.

Manziel has taken a break from Twitter in the past only to come back to the social network. But will he return to College Station following his sophomore year or head to the NFL?

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Writer: Texas’ Dodds Needs To Let Go Of Aggie-phobia

gfx - they said itRandy Galloway of The Fort Wort Star-Telegram is the latest journalist to kick Texas AD DeLoss Dodds around for his latest comments regarding Texas A&M.  Earlier this week Dodds said that it was A&M that scuttled the Longhorns/Aggies rivalry, that it would only be re-started under Texas’ rules, and that Longhorn fans don’t even care about playing their most hated rival any longer.

That’s all nonsense, of course, and everyone outside of those in burnt orange knows it.

That’s why Galloway believes it’s time for Dodds to get over his Aggie-phobia:

 

“Well, first, not once as the Aggies were departing the Big 12 did anyone in College Station say the rivalry with UT was over. It was just the opposite. School officials repeatedly said, with the move to the SEC, A&M wanted to continue the game, and if it could no longer happen at Thanksgiving, pick another date.

Second, if DeLoss is actually listening to his fan base, I’d like to know what his poll says on Mack Brown continuing as head coach.

But these are tough times for Dodds. Shockingly, the Aggies became the national talk of college football in their first SEC season. The Longhorns, after the last couple of seasons, just hope they are still talked about in Austin.

Based on current conditions, DeLoss should have a wet finger in the air, and be playing the wind. If he doesn’t want to play A&M again, a much more diplomatic answer to the question would come across better.

DeLoss had the PR hammer as the Aggies departed. In a one-eighty, the Aggies now have the hammer.

The rivalry, at some point — probably after DeLoss retires — will continue. It should continue. Everyone knows that.”

 

Galloway also did a little recon on other Texas-based schools that used to play A&M to see who’d be interested in scheduling them again.  Texas Tech and TCU are both in favor of playing the Aggies.  Baylor — which threatened lawsuits in an attempt to block A&M’s move to the SEC — shows no interest.

But if given the opportunity to fire up some old rivalries, here’s guessing the Bears would rank behind the Longhorns, Red Raiders and Horned Frogs on most Aggie fans’ lists.

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A&M Bumps Sumlin To $3.1 Million

mrsec-breaking-newsThe contract is now public record and the numbers are available for all to see.  Kevin Sumlin’s new contract at Texas A&M isn’t quite a $3.5 million deal as had been speculated, but it’s close.

Going into 2012, A&M’s coach had a contract worth $2 million per year.  After an 11-2 first season in College Station, that number has been bumped to $3.1 million.  But there’s also the potential bring in nearly $800,000 in bonuses.

The pact has also been extended to run through the 2017 season.

Sumlin has also been given $700,000 more dollars to dole out to his assistant coaches beginning this season.

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WWE’s “Big Show” Plays Villain To A&M Hero Sumlin At Wrestling Event

Over the weekend, Texas A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin was presented with an honorary heavyweight championship belt by WWE.  In typical wrestling fashion, the villain du jour — a massive character known as “The Big Show” — interrupted the presentation and proceeded to insult Sumlin and the crowd cheering him.

The Big Show went so far as to refer to Texas A&M as a “second-rate university.”  This particular WWE event took place in College Station, so you can imagine the fan reaction.

The best part?  A quick round of the now familiar “S-E-C, S-E-C” chant briefly reigned down upon the leotard-wearing baddie.

 

Kevin Sumlin at WWE in College Station

 

Anything for recruiting.

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