Over the last two years, Johnny Manziel brought a whole lot of attention, a whole lot of wins and a Heisman Trophy to College Station. While it was a wonderful era overall – the Aggies went 20-6, including 2-0 in bowl games – Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin is probably glad it’s over.
In fact, Sumlin was visibly annoyed at the number of questions he received about Manziel at the SEC Media Days this week.
“I think Kevin Sumlin is very relieved that he doesn’t have to deal with it anymore,” Fox Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt said on The Damon Amendolara Show. “I think Johnny started becoming an incredible hindrance for him, even though he was the engine that was driving Texas A&M football – to the point where they’re building an amazing stadium through renovations at Kyle Field.”
Manziel also helped Sumlin get a six-year, $30 million contract this offseason.
Still, Johnny Football was, at times, a headache. A big one.
“I think that (Sumlin) was annoyed with the questions, and he didn’t want to be reminded of the circus of the last two years,” Klatt said. “He wanted to move forward. And I thought he handled it beautifully, to be honest with you – and he was completely annoyed (by) it. He wasn’t tongue-in-cheek. He wasn’t trying to be funny. He was legitimately trying to nip it in the butt as fast as he possibly could, and I thought he did a good job by basically saying, ‘These questions are great – for the Cleveland Browns.’”
Elsewhere during Media Day, Steve Spurrier praised Nick Saban – sort of – by calling him the greatest recruiter in college football and possibly the greatest recruiter of all time. Spurrier, however, eventually took a bit of a jab at Saban, implying that he’s a better recruiter than coach.
Are SEC coaches – and college coaches in general – jealous of Saban? In awe? Resentful?
“Yeah, if you ask other fan bases and other coaches about the constant success of certain teams when it comes to recruiting, almost all of them in the back of their minds think, ‘They must be doing something that isn’t allowed,’” Klatt said. “I’m not one of those (people). I just think some people are better at the job than others. I don’t know if they’re jealous of Nick Sbaan. I (think) Steve Spurrier said that probably 50 percent truth, 50 percent tongue-in-cheek. I’m sure there’s parts of him that believe it.”
Saban, after all, has had the No. 1 recruiting class in five of the last six seasons. Klatt feels “there’s a lot of factors” for this, but added “there’s not one biggest factor. Saban simply strikes a balance between being funny yet serious, stern yet not overbearing. He’s also one hell of a closer. When he gets into a living room, it’s usually game over.
“That’s a track record of success,” Klatt said of Saban’s string of No. 1 recruiting classes. “Whether Spurrier was being tongue-in-cheek or not, Nick Saban is the greatest recruiter in college football – in our day and probably ever (just) because of the competition out there right now in recruiting.”
In covering the Media Days, Klatt also made several revelations about SEC fans.
“(Their) fan bases are the most passionate fan bases – not only about their team, but their conference,” he said. “That doesn’t exist anywhere else. Down here, they circle the wagons better than anybody in college football.”