When the Texas A&M football team started practice on August 5, it ended an offseason of unprecedented media coverage of all things Aggie. The increase in publicity for quarterback Johnny Manziel and the Aggies are a positive for the program on and off the field.
When Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, he became an instant celebrity. His every move off the field was dissected by major media outlets.
Manziel is probably the most covered collegiate athlete of all time. He is followed by more than 450,000 people on twitter. To put that in perspective, Manziel has more followers than the Southeastern Conference, Braxton Miller and the Vatican combined.
Along with the increased attention has come increased scrutiny. Manziel is not allowed to act like a typical college student. If he goes to a fraternity party or leaves a football camp early, he is roundly criticized.
All of the attention will benefit Manziel and by proxy the A&M program.
Manziel Needs the Challenge
Manziel is the type of athlete who thrives on being told he cannot do something. He is a competitor who needs that challenge to be present in order to perform at his pique.
Coming out of high school, Manziel was thought by many to be too small to play quarterback in college. Florida coach Will Muschamp quipped that he was recruited by Texas to play safety.
Manziel used the doubters as fuel for his record-breaking freshman season. He proved that you do not need to have prototype size to dominate at the college level.
Manziel has repeatedly shown that he is up to whatever challenge he faces. He is one of the rare athletes that thrives on pressure situations.
The more important the game, and bigger the situation, the better he performs. Manziel is the straw that stirs the drink of the A&M offense. If he performs well, then the football team is going to win ballgames.
All Publicity If Good Publicity
Every time Manziel is mentioned in the news, the Texas A&M football program is also mentioned. That leads to a level of publicity and extension of the Aggie brand that cannot be financially quantified.
In 2012, the Texas A&M football program was a minor player at the SEC Media Days. In 2013, Manziel was the star of the SEC Media Days. He was interviewed on ESPN in a national broadcast.
Manziel has proven that you can win national awards at Texas A&M. He has helped shine the national spotlight on the A&M program in a way that has never happened before.
Texas A&M will receive multiple benefits from this media coverage. On the field, the negative coverage will likely push Manziel's play up a notch and lead to more wins.
Off the field, the increased national exposure means that more recruits from across the country will be exposed to the Aggie football program. High school football players notice when your program is leading off SportsCenter.
The now know that you can go to A&M and win a Heisman Trophy and compete at the highest levels of college football. That was not the case in 2011.
Some Aggie fans may grow tired of the constant media barrage of all things "Johnny Football." In the end, the coverage both positive and negative is a good thing for the Texas A&M program.