When most college football players win the Heisman Trophy, they have but one game left in their college careers before they're off to the NFL. With the new phenomenon of freshman Johnny Manziel taking home the hardware, all of us—college football administrators, coaches, players, fans and even the media—are entering uncharted territory.
Manziel is, after all, just 20 years old and preparing for his redshirt sophomore season. Is it any wonder we're watching his growing pains play out before us in magazines, in newspapers and on the Internet?
Manziel didn't surround himself with agents and PR professionals because, quite simply, he can't. The NCAA rightly prevents college athletes from contact with professional agents while still maintaining eligibility to play in college.
Kids will be kids, and “Johnny Football” is probably behaving how many college guys would in his situation. But does that mean we should simply throw this 20-year-old kid to the paparazzi-inspired wolves?
Of course not. Those who cover college football in general or Johnny Manziel in particular must take it upon themselves to identify the line between fair and foul when it comes to coverage of the young phenom.