Berry Tramel

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Johnny Manziel: No excuse for disrespecting Kevin Sumlin

by Berry Tramel Modified: September 3, 2013 at 11:35 am •  Published: September 3, 2013
Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel watches from the sidelines during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Rice, Saturday,  Aug. 31, 2013, in College Station, Texas.  Manziel has been suspended for the first half of the team's game for what the school said was an "inadvertent" violation of NCAA rules by signing autographs. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel watches from the sidelines during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Rice, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in College Station, Texas. Manziel has been suspended for the first half of the team's game for what the school said was an "inadvertent" violation of NCAA rules by signing autographs. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Johnny Football is not reformed. A brush with the law did not scare straight Johnny Manziel at all. His antics in the second half of the Texas A&M-Rice game show that Manziel is not interested in change.

A flamboyant mime of a signature. Twitching his fingers as in show-me-the-money. Jawing with Rice defenders, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. None of it would have surprised us from the pre-suspension Manziel, and now we know that nothing should surprise us from the post-suspension Manziel. In his first public stage since receiving a dubious one-half suspension from the NCAA, Manziel flaunted his status like Lindsey Lohan. Just another troubled prodigy.

Of course, mocking the NCAA will not get you in the public hurt locker. Manziel can make the case that he’s nothing but Robin Hood. Hard to distinguish between the rich and who’s poor, when you’re talking about the NCAA, Texas A&M and the Manziel; they all seem loaded.

But beating a system designed to keep the money with the establishment, that’s a populist move there. Manziel will have his share of supporters on general principle.

Yet there will be no one on Johnny Football’s side when it comes to disrespecting Aggie coach Kevin Sumlin, who has stood by Manziel along the troublesome way. Sumlin is not like A&M chancellor John Sharp, who has been Manziel’s champion for reasons that seem to boil down to these: 1) Sharp has lost his soul because of the money and prestige big-time football success provides the Aggies; or 2) Sharp is just an idiot. A combination of the two is most likely.

No, Sumlin’s trust is rooted in the age-old relationship of coach and player. A coach’s belief that he can positively impact a kid. I know, coaches want to win as much as anybody, and they will walk a narrow plank if a guy is a good enough football player. But there’s also an element in almost every coach that believes in his ability to change young people. Believes in a coach’s ability to change youth indiscretion.

Sumlin stood by Manziel before he was a freshman phenom. When the university wanted to expel Manziel, Sumlin stuck up for his troubled quarterback. And Sumlin has stuck with Manziel during the autograph scandal, not in flowery praise of what a great humanitarian is Manziel (that’s Sharp’s job), but by offering a safe haven for retreat.

And Manziel repays his coach by mocking the opponent, the NCAA and the entire system he beat. And when Sumlin boiled over Saturday in that second half, Johnny Football was Johnny Apathy. He brushed off Sumlin like he was that graduate assistant Manziel famously shoved during spring practice.

That’s uncool. The immature Heisman Trophy winner has shown little respect for anything, be it Alabama’s defensive reputation or NCAA rules or how close he’s come to spitting away a glorious career. If Manziel doesn’t show respect for his coach, that’s the biggest crime of all.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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