Johnny Manziel has been in the spotlight for a variety of reasons ever since he became the first freshman to take home the Heisman Trophy.
You can add Barry Switzer’s strange and vacillating analysis of the former Texas A&M quarterback’s draft status to the list of Manziel-related headlines.
Nina Mandell of USA Today passed along Switzer’s comments he made to Nashville radio station WNSR:
First of all I would have a long talk with him before I drafted him. That’s the thing these pros have an advantage of doing right now. I haven’t had that opportunity. I’ve said some negative things about him but at the same time I’ve said some very positive things about him. I love his ability; Johnny can play.
I would go to Johnny and I would spend time with him, and I’d find out and base my decision on what he has to say in my interview and my gut feeling about him then. This guy has got a little crap in his neck, but I’ve had a lot of renegades … every football team does. That doesn’t mean he ain’t going to be a good player and help win you some championships.
Switzer’s opinions on Manziel are filled with backhanded compliments and frankly seem to be an attempt by the former Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys coach to cover his tracks. Regardless of how Manziel’s career turns out at the next level, Switzer can look back with 20/20 hindsight and say “I told you so” in some fashion.
However, there are plenty of so-called experts who aren’t sure about Manziel’s NFL possibilities. It was Switzer’s comments on recruiting quarterbacks that turned the most heads:
I’ve always said I’d never recruit a white quarterback. The only way I’d ever recruit a white quarterback to play for me was if his mom and daddy would have to both be black, and that’s the only way I would do it. My offense is a quarterback-fullback offense,I’d have to have a Jamelle Holieway, J.C. Watts [or] Thomas Lott. Those guys are gonna be my quarterbacks, they’re great runners, they’re great ball carriers and … able to pass, complete some, and those guys could. Those guys could throw and run.
Former superstar Troy Aikman appeared to be feeling a little left out:
It goes without saying that race shouldn’t be a factor in any discussions about an athlete’s abilities, regardless of the sport or position. After all, it’s the year 2014.
By including headline-grabbing statements like that, Switzer automatically diverts the attention away from anything of value he had to say about Manziel’s NFL prospects.
It’s not the first time Switzer has felt the need to make strange comments regarding Manziel’s attempt to become an NFL quarterback. Nick Schwartz of USA Today passed along quotes Switzer made on St. Louis CBS Sports 920 Wednesday:
I don’t like his antics. I think he’s an arrogant little prick. I’ve said that and I’ll say it again. He’s a privileged kid, he’s embarrassed himself, he’s embarrassed his teammates, he’s embarrassed his coaches.
For whatever his antics are… he’s the best that I’ve seen. I have never seen a quarterback in college football… control of the game like he does and put up the numbers he does. It is fantastic what he’s done, against good competition. Game after game after game he puts numbers up that are staggering….. He’s the most dominant, most dynamic college quarterback I’ve ever seen in a long, long time.
Switzer’s character evaluation of Manziel is certainly harsh. There's no way he could still be upset about the way Manziel and the Aggies torched his beloved Sooners in the 2013 Cotton Bowl, right?
Switzer may seem to think Manziel embarrassed his teammates and coaches so much that it impacted their relationships and the football team as a whole, but watching the rest of the Aggies embrace their leader after an incredible comeback victory in the most recent Chick-fil-A Bowl would suggest otherwise.
Switzer may be a legendary coach, former national champion and Super Bowl winner, but his back-and-forth opinions on Manziel simply come across as strange.
Going forward, Manziel’s on-field talent will ultimately be what determines his success or failure in the NFL.
If he can make the same electrifying plays we saw in college at the next level and inject a boost of energy and some wins into a downtrodden franchise, it will be hard to argue with the results simply because he had a little fun in college.
Of course, regardless of whether Manziel succeeds or fails, Switzer will still have the individual quotes to say he saw it coming the whole time.