Alabama's AJ McCarron and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel have a number of things in common. They both play quarterback; both play in the most difficult college football league (SEC) in America and both have hot girlfriends. McCarron has won more (two national titles in two years as a starter), but Manziel has won the biggest individual award for a college football player possible. How they go about their business seems to be vastly different as well.
Manziel is soaking up the Heisman spotlight by going courtside to NBA games, making appearances on talk shows and music videos, and walking the red carpet at the ESPYs. McCarron, meanwhile, let his girlfriend attend the annual show in California while he stayed back in Tuscaloosa to prepare for what he hopes will be another national title run. One way isn't necessarily better than the other, but Manziel has been widely criticized for his off-season behavior.
Manziel has been seen living it up and he's not going to apologize for that. He suggests to anyone who will listen that he will continue to act like a 20-year-old student athlete. I can appreciate and, to a certain extent, respect that. What I had hoped for Manziel was that he'd better understand how the Heisman changes his life. Maybe you can't truly appreciate that until you go through it, but with all the "slippery slopes" he's been forced to navigate, you'd think he would have learned by now. Manziel says "I'm not going for the Miss America pagent," but winning the Heisman does carry that stature with it in college football. Like it or not, fair or not, winning the Heisman Trophy changes a person and changes how that person is perceived. It's happened to every Heisman winner.
When you win such a prestigious award, there is an expectation that goes along with it. Just like when someone within a company is promoted to General Manager or CEO. No longer are those individuals given the latitude to make certain mistakes. They have more at stake to lose. They are responsible for more, thus the payoff is bigger, but so is the fall out. Manziel is experiencing such. I'm not saying he should be working on improving his game 24/7 to win a second Heisman or to better the Aggies chances of competing for a national championship. I'm saying he might want to tone it tone a little and better undertsand that pictures taken at bars with alcohol present leads to specualtion and questions, which then need to be answered, which then leads to less talk about you as a football player and more of talk of you as a partier.
Winning the Hesiman doesn't mean that Johnny Manziel is the smartest player in college football, but it shouldn't excuse him from acting like the dumbest sometimes either.
Matt Shepard is the play-by-play voice of University of Michigan basketball, Eastern Michigan University football and the Detroit Lions television network. He can also be found on TV locally on Fox Sports Detroit and nationally on the Big Ten Network for college hockey and baseball.Learn more.