Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Torn

As most of you already know, Wright Thompson recently wrote a fascinating piece on Johnny Manziel for ESPN the Magazine. It’s lengthy, but I encourage you to take 20 minutes and read it.

If you don’t have that kind of time, the feature primarily focused on Johnny’s struggle with fame and the family’s growing displeasure with the entire situation.

Ladies and gentlemen, the day of reckoning has arrived. I should probably take more time to really process what this article means, but it’s so fascinating that I just can’t wait. There’s so much material to digest and decipher.

The one portion of this pie that I want to dive into is the now tumultuous relationship between the Manziel family and Texas A&M.  According to those in Johnny’s inner circle, Texas A&M has begun to turn on the Manziels, as evidenced by their belief that the school leaked the story about Manziel nearly being suspended for 2012 and then coming close to transferring to another school as a result of his well-known arrest. 1

Why would Texas A&M do that? It was a matter of time. A few months ago, I openly wondered when the Aggie press would turn on Johnny even though Manziel has buttered their bread thicker than ever before over the past year. We have started to see some passive-aggressive tones from the beat writers in regards to Manziel’s celebrity status. The beat writers are fairly righteous former students, so I assume the ultra-righteous administration would share similar beliefs when it came to Johnny.

Again though – why?

Amid all the glorious times that we’ve experienced over the past year (that have only been possible because of Johnny Manziel) we’ve lost sight of the fact that a good deal of what Johnny does is in contradiction with traditional Aggie standards. In fact, I think part of the reason Johnny is so good is because he is so anti-Aggie.

I don’t say that in the way you’re probably thinking; I’m sure Johnny loves to pet Reveille, go to Muster, show up at Big Event, and only buy his chicken fingers from Layne’s, not Cane’s, because that’s what Aggies do.  Manziel is anti-Aggie in that he’s flashy, cocky, and isn’t afraid to put himself before school. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, it’s just different from what most Aggies expect and often cherish. From the way he dresses, to what he drives, to the lifestyle he appears to strive for, he’s unlike the overwhelming majority of Aggies (or at least their general perception). On the field, I absolutely believe this is what frees him from the pressures that overwhelmed former quarterbacks (one with a name that rhymes with Merrod Mohnson comes to mind).  It’s great that we have such a special school that people and players love so much, but I believe that being free from that blind reverence allows Johnny to focus on one thing when he plays football: winning and winning well. 2

It’s clear from Thompson’s feature that this isn’t going to change, either. Obviously, Manziel loves the spotlight, is incredibly immature, and is a very confused young man. Johnny doesn’t seem to be very interested in seeking his parents’ guidance (although Paul Manziel doesn’t exactly strike me as a valuable source of wisdom) and it makes you wonder what his relationship with Kevin Sumlin is looking like these days. 3

Manziel’s lifestyle has ruffled plenty of feathers over the past few months.  It seems that we’re supposed to fall into two camps on this issue: those who think Johnny should be able to live his life as he sees fit, and those who think Johnny should walk the predetermined line. Personally, I agree with Scott’s belief that winning cures all, but I’m troubled by Manziel’s insistence on living this way.

At the end of the day though, if living his life this way is what makes him the player he is, I’m in. Manziel’s not going to change. It may be up to Texas A&M to decide if they will.


Footnotes section added by Scott Klovans 

1 By the way, I remember hearing this tidbit and seeing it as a good bonding story between Johnny and Sumlin. Johnny was on the cusp of suspension (and thus transferring) and Sumlin stepped in, proposed an alternative way of thinking, and took steps to keep Johnny in the program. Was I delusional or did anybody hear that version?

2 Ben Berryman, coming in strong with a hot, fresh Johnny thought. I dig it and I fully agree. You could even go so far as to say that Johnny’s penchant for doing the unexpected on the field (and succeeding), may spill over to his normal life, where success isn’t determined by crossing a goal line.

3 I honestly envision (or hope to envision) a parallel to Friday Night Light’s Coach Taylor and his relationship with uber-talented, often distracted QB Vince. Coach Taylor never overstepped his boundaries and he always forced his players to take responsibility for their actions. It was tough to watch sometimes, I wanted Coach Taylor to step out of his comfort zone and show some sympathy or even go so far as to fix the situation. But he always knew, it wasn’t his situation to fix, he was dealing with unstable, moldable young men. I really wonder what Sumlin’s current stance really is? I don’t know the guy, but he seems like Coach Taylor to me, calm, collected, authoritative, intellectual, and ultimately a guy who wouldn’t give two shits about some fluffy ESPN article. I sure do hope Manziel looks up that.

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Johnny Thoughts

I love Johnny Manziel.  Plain and simple.  And honestly, there is nothing he could do off the field (outside of a felony offense) to chip away at my adoration for him.

(But wait, on that felony note, would I care if Johnny committed arson?  Probably not.  So yea, only the real, mean felonies).

I have always stood by my stance that Stephen McGee and Jerrod Johnson were both a mirage of a successful quarterback.  Stephen McGee was tough as nails (he truly was) and pulled out some wonderful victories against UT; Jerrod put up some empty stats, was once considered a dark horse Heisman candidate, and was frequently mentioned as a “a poor man’s Vince Young” (a bit too much of a compliment to me; more like a homeless and on the streets version of Vince Young).  I called for McGee’s head when he struggled, and then I got Jerrod… it was a dark time to say the least.  Maybe, I deserved it.  Maybe, I was right all along.  Whatever the case, for a vast majority of their Aggie tenure, our team struggled and frankly, I didn't have faith in our team.

On that same note, I also never shied away from the vague, undefinable claim that Texas A&M deserved a winner.  We are pound for pound, the best fans in America (or at least damn close to it).  Aggies show up rain or shine, good or bad.  And for year’s we constantly tried to make rainbows out of steamy piles of poo.  We believed and believed and then kept on believing, without ever being truly rewarded (unless you think MAKING a bowl game and then getting annihilated is a reward).

And then came Johnny.  And the SEC.  And Kevin Sumlin.  And for the bajillionth time... it was beautiful.  Transcendent.  The perfect storm (in a good way).  IT. WAS.  AWESOME.  (Go ahead and insert about twenty more glowing adjectives).

And why was it awesome?  Well, there is a ton of reasons, but none more important than Johnny.  Watching Johnny scramble (and do everything else he did) gave me goose bumps; it gives me the warm fuzzies just thinking about it.

And now look where we are.  Johnny has become the most polarizing college athlete on Earth (probably ever) because of the accessibility (and danger) of social media.  It’s ridiculous, and mostly (we know he isn't a saint) unfair.  Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville QB) commented today, in relation to Johnny, “Today, we live in a ‘I gotcha’ world.”  He is right.  And he is, more or less, saying, "hey, there are lots of people across the nation who are out to exploit, harass, and bombard cultural icons like Johnny."

Johnny’s not perfect.  Far from it.  But I’m not perfect either.  And I when I look back on 20 year old me… I think, dang, I was pretty dumb.  We all make mistakes.  And when adults become so detached and self-righteous (I am pointing at you Mark May) that they question his motives, his future, his everything… well, honestly, it just irks me.  We are all guilty to an extent.  Information is too available; opinions are too abundant (I guess I am adding mine to the pile right now) and we consume it all on a daily basis.  Our ESPN viewership and internet page “hits” fuel the fire.  And it doesn't look like the fire will ever be put out.  That’s just life in a football crazed nation in the year 2013.

But guess what?  I love football.  I love Texas A&M.  And I love Johnny Manziel.  If Johnny stink bombs on the field next year, I will be pissed.  And maybe in my head I will wonder if he truly does need to tone it down.  But who am I to say what works for him?  And until that hypothetical stink bomb occurs (and hopefully it never will), I LOVE MY QUARTERBACK.  And I love that my quarterback has edge, literally oozes swagger, and thinks his shit don’t stink.  It’s what makes Johnny, well… Johnny Football.

As we continue along this perpetual roller-coaster, I have promised myself, to never forget what Johnny gave us last year.  I remember what it was like during those gloomy days of old. 

I have said before that football is the front porch of a University.  And last year Johnny decorated our porch with lavish jewels.  He made it cool/hip to sit on our front porch again.  And he made the nation interested in our porch again.  And for that Johnny, I say thank you.


You do you, Johnny, and I will blindly support you (except for any mean felonies) to the end.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Taking a Look into the Crystal Ball

If you consider yourself a football recruiting aficionado and haven't checked out 247Sports new "crystal ball" feature, well... then you are definitely behind the times.  Check out the site, click on a recruit, and check out where all "the experts" think he will end up.  Take this Myles Garrett link for example.  (Hooray for 100% Aggie predictions).

Due to our super limited, super unofficial, super nonexistent communications with GigEm247, they have kindly bestowed us the privilege of having our own crystal ball vote.  The concept is simple.  Find an uncommitted recruit and document your prediction.  If you think a committed recruit will eventually change his status, you can predict that too.  Obviously the excitement arises from wishy-washy high school studs that are torn between their top schools.

In celebration of our new level of fame, Aggie Rundown will be participating in a crystal ball challenge with Hunter Jarvis of the Around Aggieland radio show (as well as his contributions to Good Bull Hunting).

We haven't determined the official rules yet.  Shouldn't be too difficult.  Pick 15 guys, provide your prediction with a brief explanation.  Well, maybe those are the rules.  That was easy.

May the best obscure, very unknown Aggie enthusiast win!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Dynasty Starts Today (at least mine does)

Phew, it's a slow time of the year for college football, but luckily the football fanatics over at EA sports have given us reason to cheer... the release of NCAA '14!

Football is finally here! In approximately 1 hour and 13 minutes (time is flexible based upon reader) I am going to buy NCAA '14 at lunch. That means that College Football will start for me in 6 hours and 13 (flexible time again) minutes. Here are a couple of things I am looking forward to in the latest version of the only Xbox game I still consistently play:

5. Mike Evans - In the NCAA franchise, I have learned that hot-routing your favorite receiver is an integral part of stringing together a long scoring drive.  Evans is sure to be a favorite hot-route target of mine as he’s sure to be left 1 on 1 by the computer a ton.  Wide receiver side note: who will emerge as the next best target in this year's game?  They probably (and fairly so) won't give too much "rating love" to any of our stud freshmen.  Maybe Sabian Holmes is a burner?  Or maybe I brush up on the reliable RB routes.  I am salivating.

4. Playing at Kyle Field - Even though it’s just a video game, I LOVE being able to get a little taste of the Kyle Field Experience.  I have always loved the "pageantry" of college football, and the NCAA video game franchise has really stepped it up in this category of late.  Add in the fact that they went through the effort of making Kyle Field one of the demo destinations and you have a recipe for some phenomenal A&M publicity.  (Surely, Reveille has made it into this year's version given that NCAA spent a substantial portion of last fall in College Station.)

3. #4 National Ranking - From now until whenever NCAA '15 comes out, anytime anyone plays the game and sorts through the various teams, they will see Texas A&M as a Top 5 team. MORE AWESOME PUBLICITY!  That is not only HUGE for our actual University prestige, but wow will it be easier to recruit in this year's game! We’ll be good this year in real life, no doubt, but regardless of how the season goes, we’ll forever be a National Championship Contender on NCAA '14.

2. Ben Malena and the Williams duo - Does anyone know how to set your RB's to rotate out more fluidly as opposed to manually adjusting the depth chart? I heard there is a greater emphasis this year on play-to-play stamina so having three break-away threats can be a HUGE benefit going into the second half of those 20 minute games.  

1. QB#2 - Obviously the news broke weeks ago (well it broke for those who scour the internet for such tidbits) that Johnny Football is an overall 97 player. That is INSANE growth over what he was rated in last year’s game (somewhere in the low 70's, I believe).  Fast QB's have always ruled the NCAA video game world and Texas A&M now has one of the best ever.  It blows my mind that Texas A&M will probably be the most frequently picked team in the entire game for online/head-to-head games.  

All that aside, there’s nothing like having an amazing dual-threat QB to play with on NCAA, and this year (and probably only this year), I’ll get to play with that player AND my beloved Aggies.  That begs the question: Is this the biggest video game in Aggie history? Wait… is that even a QUESTION?