SEC Football Q&A: If Johnny Manziel Is Eligible, Will Distractions Derail A&M?

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterAugust 8, 2013

Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
Texas A&M QB Johnny ManzielTroy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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And we're off:

@BarrettSallee @BR_CFB even if Manziel is eligible what impact will his activities and lack of focus on the coming season have on his play?

— Bob S. (@bsginc) August 7, 2013

His "lack of focus" is way overplayed. His offseason was adventurous, but a lot of those things he did—partying in New Orleans, going on spring break, having fun with social media—are things that all college kids do—including other big-name college quarterbacks.

The only two concerning transgressions were the Manning Passing Academy flap and the biggie—the reports that he sold his autograph to brokers. Those two things suggest that he's arrogant, dumb and selfish, because either he's putting himself before his team or he isn't smart enough to know the rules.

Either way, it's bad.

But if he is declared eligible, all of that stuff magically goes away. If the autograph controversy does anything to him, it likely will keep him focused on football, if for no other reason than it will serve as a distraction from the scandal. 

Is he going to have a similar season to the one he had last season when he put up an SEC-record 5,116 yards? No. 

He shouldn't have to.

With the weapons head coach Kevin Sumlin has at running back and wide receiver, Manziel should take advantage of the attention paid to him and let the other guys do some of the dirty work.

The "he's not focused" argument is a nonstarter for me, except when it's brought up in regard to the Manning camp and the autograph scandal. Even when he was having fun throwing out the first pitch in San Diego, he was there to get better and work with quarterback coach George Whitfield Jr.

I don't expect him—or any college quarterback—to be watching film 24/7/365.


@BarrettSallee Barrett why is everyone showing my LSU tiger no respect this year?

— Andre Lawson (@Drexlaws) August 3, 2013

Part of it is roster turnover on defense and part of it is a lack of faith in quarterback Zach Mettenberger. 

That's a little lazy.

Defensive coordinator John Chavis knows how to fill holes on that side of the ball, plus the Tigers still have a solid foundation in the front seven with tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson and linebackers Lamin Barrow and Tahj Jones. Not to mention a secondary that is actually experienced with Jalen Mills, Jalen Collins and Craig Loston.

Mettenberger has a big arm, showed it at times last year (especially in November) and fits right in to new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's style. Cameron likes to pound the ball on the ground and then go over the top. Mettenberger has the arm to let it loose, which makes the two a perfect match.

The "rebuilding year" talk is silly. Head coach Les Miles has built that roster to a point where "rebuilding years" are more myth than reality.


@BarrettSallee Ok. Bigger surprise: Spurrier winning at South Carolina or Spurrier winning at South Carolina with defense?

— Heisman for Clowney (@Heisman4Clowney) August 8, 2013

Tough one, but I'll go with winning with defense. 

That's not a knock against those Florida teams under Spurrier, because they did play defense, contrary to popular belief. But when you have potent offenses like most of those Florida teams had, all you had to be is opportunistic.

At South Carolina, it's been all defense all the time.

I figured that, even though the state of South Carolina doesn't have the talent that Florida does, Spurrier would be able to get enough talent to allow his play-calling to put the Gamecocks over the top.

He got the talent, but noticed that running the ball and playing defense was the path of least resistance rather early since taking over in 2005.

It's more surprising that Spurrier—typically a bit on the stubborn side—changed his ways almost immediately.


Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at