DALLAS — The most decorated football player at Monday's opening day of Big 12 Media Days wasn't on the stage or in front of a mic.
Former Ohio State and NFL standout Eddie George, the winner of the 1995 Heisman Trophy, was at the Omni preparing for the upcoming season as an analyst for Fox Sports 1. George sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about the state of college football, the Big 12, the pressures that go along with winning the Heisman and more.
What did you think of Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby's comments about changes that need to happen in the NCAA?
I think he's dead on. There's so many issues with the NCAA and how they've handled certain situations in the past, the integrity that they claim to have--that they force upon the schools--they haven't demonstrated themselves. I think they lack institutional control. It needs to be blown up, it needs to be restructured, it needs to fall in alignment with our world today and where we live in terms of paying players, in terms of player development, allowing coaches to have more time with their players off the field so they can not have so many off-the-field issues and it needs to be looked at from a different lens. There needs to be a paradigm shift. As we move forward to this new era of football, the power conferences, the playoff system, lends itself to have new rules that need to apply (moving) forward. It's not even so much the money. It's the principle. It's doing what's admirable and what's right and what applies to today in order to survive as a college kid. Not make it so much as where we're going to stop you from being competitive in recruiting but to giving them a fair shot to be a student-athlete but also give them a fair shot to be successful after football. That's what comes into play.
What do you think about the Ed O'Bannon case against the NCAA?
I think it's an eye-opening event for the NCAA. Unfortunately, they're going to discontinue NCAA Football (video game), which I'm upset about because I play the game. But again there's an opportunity to really look at it and see how can we pay these players? Maybe there's an opportunity there to take some of the revenue generated from these games and give it back to the players. There's an opportunity there for everyone to maximize.
As a former Heisman Trophy winner, what do you think about Johnny Manziel and his comments last week about not changing much about how he acts away from the field?
He's right. He's 21. He's making his mistakes. I think the people that are covering him are 40-year-old men and we look at the world differently and we expect him to have a sense of responsibility. Well, guess what, he's a Heisman winner in college and he's doing what a college kid's going to do. However, for Johnny, he has to take on the responsibility and say, ‘Hey, my life has been totally changed. I can't do what anybody else can do. I can't go to a bar and drink from a bong and think it won't be on Twitter next day or I can't be late to a meeting.' Because you can't because all eyes are on you. There's a level of responsibility that he has to understand that he's not your typical 21-year-old anymore. You're a celebrity now. You are going to be on Twitter every six seconds, or Facebook, or you were just on Jay Leno's couch. You're not the typical 21-year-old so you can't behave that way. He has to understand that as well.
How did your life change winning the Heisman?
It's still changed. It evolves, it grows, it changes every single year since I won it. You're always going to be known as the Heisman Trophy winner. You're known for being an NFL legend, some guys are Hall of Famers but they don't go by that. You're always Eddie George the Heisman Trophy winner. That always reigns forever.
What do you make of the state of Oklahoma's program right now?
I think you reload at Oklahoma. The question is who's going to be the quarterback. Blake Bell is going to be there. The question is can he produce the same type of numbers that Landry was able to do over the last few years and Sam Bradford and some of the great Oklahoma quarterbacks have put up. What kind of style is going to bring to the table and based off that style, how are they going to surround him with the supporting cast to do it. The bigger question is the Oklahoma defense. It was so uncharacteristic to see that defense give up as many big plays as they did. At times, they showed brilliance--they smash-mouthed Texas. But outside of that, it was eye-opening to see a Tayvon Austin run for 300 yards on that defense and Johnny Manziel just put up 500 yards by himself. It's alarming to see that given the amount of great athletes that are on the defense. So the question is, up front--especially on the defensive end--who's going o develop there as an elite pass rusher and not just a guy.