Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M QB and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, is only taking online classes at Texas A&M this spring, as I first learned February 19 on ESPN's BottomLine.
Wait. ESPN thought Johnny Football's class schedule situation was worthy of ticker time?
Are you kidding me?
However, we all know anything Manziel-related is a story these days. As does Johnny himself. It's been reported that Manziel will only be on campus for non-football activities once a month while enrolled this spring. Is this any different than another students taking all online classes? Doubtful.
Nevertheless, the Aggie star has more than his share of critics. They will only grow in number.
A recent article by The Sporting News suggested:
"Last year, quarterback Matt Barkley returned to USC with hopes of winning a national championship and the Heisman Trophy. He didn’t come close to either goal, but embraced the life of being a college student. The year before, Andrew Luck did the same, embracing his time on Stanford’s campus. However, it is apparently all a bit too much for Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman winner, Johnny Manziel."
A bit too much for Johnny Manziel? I disagree. He's just taking a slightly different path than others. It's not like he's taking all online courses during the fall. If that were the case, then there would certainly be reason for criticism when the overwhelming majority of college football players attend classes in person. That's not the case, though.
Sure, Manziel's spring class schedule has made it much easier for the Davey O'Brien Award winner to attend events like the BCS National Championship, the Super Bowl, Mardis Gras and NBA All-Star weekend. What normal 20-year-old college student, not to even mention a student-athlete, wouldn't take advantage of similar opportunities to attend such high-profile events.
In his own defense, the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy said:
"I know plenty of friends who went down to Mardi Gras to New Orleans and other guys who went to the Super Bowl too," he said. "I was down there with other college football guys too, so I don't know, people like to give me a hard time more than others. There's college kids doing what I'm doing all around the country. People just think I'm going wild with it, when it's not like that."
Further, the kid isn't doing anything illegal. He's got far too much to risk by making the wrong decisions, something his parents, coaches and Texas A&M compliance officers also understand.
Manziel continues to do his part in being up-front about his non-football activities with A&M compliance, per a recent AP article:
"For those who wonder if Manziel's adventures fall within NCAA rules, he stays in touch with compliance people at Texas A&M to clear things in advance. Two weeks before the Super Bowl, for example, he let them know who he was going to the game with, where he was staying and how he was paying for everything."
The frequent Twitter user has created stirs of his own making in recent months by being snapped celebrating a Cotton Bowl victory with a bottle of champagne at a Texas restaurant and posting pictures of himself with a wad of cash at an Oklahoma casino. Again though, it was all legal. Manziel was reportedly accompanied by a parent when the champagne photo was taken and he was gambling as a legal adult in the State of Oklahoma. Whether you agree with the drinking laws in Texas or not, there were no laws broken by Johnny Football.
Among his 308,778 followers on Twitter are sure to be not only family, friends, teammates, coaches and fans, but also critics just waiting for the wrong tweet to be posted. Although maybe a little slow to pick-up on what the media and public may see as positive or negative tweets, the rising sophomore is aware of social media concerns. Jimmy Burch of the Star-Telegram wrote:
"Manziel, 20, said he has learned some valuable lessons as an emerging celebrity and is comfortable with his off-field activities and his Twitter account; even if some posts have triggered concerns from A&M fans and elicited a reminder from A&M athletic director Eric Hyman that, as a Heisman winner, the public will hold him to a higher standard than peers for off-field conduct."
Back to just the latest Johnny issue, his spring class schedule, again the youngster is doing nothing illegal. I think he described the entire ongoing media circus surrounding himself as well as anyone could when he tweeted the following:
Just so people know the media doesn't always paint the correct picture.. They just care about getting a good story and nothing else matters
— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) January 16, 2013
As Kevin Sumlin's Texas A&M Aggies enter the upcoming season with their eyes on a BCS National Championship, Johnny Manziel is well aware that his every move will be under a microscope.
That's alright, because until he truly missteps and does something illegal, let the kid be a kid.
Don't sit back and act like you wouldn't do the same thing if you were in his shoes.