According to Edward Aschoff of ESPN, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has been left off of the coaches' preseason first-team All-SEC team. The coaches chose Georgia Bulldogs field general Aaron Murray over Manziel.
With all due respect to Murray, there was no legitimate reason to exclude Manziel from the All-SEC first team.
Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players, which makes Aggies front man Kevin Sumlin an innocent party. With that being said, this isn't Steve Spurrier irrationally voting for someone other than Tim Tebow. It's an instance of enough coaches voting against Manziel to keep him off the first team.
The SEC coaches aren't the only ones to doubt Manziel.
The odds don't see a repeat Heisman for Johnny Manziel. pic.twitter.com/ib9JDgCl4D— ESPN First Take (@ESPN_FirstTake) August 20, 2013
Something tells us a potential suspension could be playing a role here.
This article is not an attempt to sell Murray's greatness short, as there truly is no reason to do that. Few quarterbacks come close to Murray's raw ability, and, when it comes to leading a team to a national title, there may be a legitimate reason to side with him over Manziel.
There just isn't a rational way of explaining how he's on the first team and Manziel isn't.
On June 29, 2012, Manziel was arrested and charged with misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct, failure to identify and possession of a fictitious driver's license, per the Associated Press. It was later revealed that Manziel was attempting to prevent a fight between a friend and another man reacting to a racial slur.
Manziel was painted in a positive light for breaking the fight up, but the fact that he was guilty of underage drinking with a fake ID hasn't been forgotten.
Manziel was able to correct his image and become one of the most favorable faces in all of college athletics. His play on the field spoke louder than the mistakes he made during the summer prior, and the growth was believed.
According to Darren Rovell and Justine Gubar of ESPN, Manziel is being investigated for allegedly accepting money for signing autographs.
Manziel is now in danger of being suspended, and it appears as if the coaches have punished him for it. While there is reason to be upset if Manziel did violate the NCAA rules, whether fair or foul, that doesn't justify his snubbing.
After all, we are talking about the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
Heisman Trophy Winner
If the SEC wants to argue that Murray is the better player, that's a topic of conversation that's worth exploring in some capacity. A case could even be made that A.J. McCarron's ability to lead the Alabama Crimson Tide to consecutive national titles earns him the nod.
Unfortunately for Murray and McCarron, there's only one factor worth acknowledging: Manziel is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
Who should be the first-team All-SEC quarterback?
In the end, that's the only factor worth acknowledging, as Manziel won the highest individual honor in all of college football. By doing so, he effectively earned the right to be on any and all first teams for which he is eligible.
That includes the coaches' All-SEC team.
Not only was Manziel extraordinary enough to win the Heisman Trophy, but he dominated the SEC's most vaunted defenses. He threw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns to nine interceptions and ran for 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns.
That's a grand total of 5,116 total yards of offense—an SEC record.
Murray wasn't bad himself, throwing for 3,893 yards with 36 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. He also ran for three touchdowns, which gave him 39 total, but the comparison doesn't offer reason to ignore everything Manziel has done.
Even if his character makes it easy to do so.