Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, was not on-site during Tuesday’s opening day of the SEC football media days.
But he generated lots of chatter in light of recent off-field incidents that have caused ESPN officials to plan a live telecast of Manziel’s news conference during Wednesday’s media session at the Wynfrey Hotel (expected during the 9:10 a.m. SportsCenter).
Manziel, a sophomore, exited early from last week’s Manning Passing Academy, where he served as a camp counselor. In a release, Archie Manning said Manziel missed or was late for practices in Thibodeaux, La., because Manziel had “been feeling ill” and everyone considered it best for him to go home a day early.
Manziel, who pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge of failing to properly identify himself to police after a June 2012 fight in College Station, is expected to address his recent off-field incidents at Wednesday’s news conference before departing for Los Angeles to attend the ESPY Awards ceremony. Manziel is nominated for multiple honors.
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Asked about the buzz surrounding Manziel’s news conference, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said Tuesday: “I’ll be watching like you are ... we’ll see.” Slive joked that he was glad his Tuesday state-of-the-SEC news conference did not conflict with Manziel’s media session “because none of you would be here if I was speaking [opposite Manziel].”
Missouri quarterback James Franklin, a fellow counselor at the Manning camp, offered no insight into Manziel’s early departure but said the Aggies’ quarterback impressed him during their interactions.
“Actually, when I talked to him there, he was really cool. It was different than I expected. He was a nice guy,” Franklin said. “I’ve come to the realization that you’ve got to be careful what you hear in the media or what’s posted online. ... Once it comes out, whether it’s true or not, people are going to see that and that’s going to become reality to them.”
The bottom line shows Manziel has made some less-than-flattering headlines in the past week. Without mentioning names, Slive referenced disappointment with “recent off-the-field incidents involving both current and former student-athletes” from SEC schools during his address.
At the top of that list would be former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who played in college at Florida and is facing murder charges in Massachusetts. Football players at LSU and Vanderbilt also have made recent appearances on police blotters. Without referencing Hernandez, Slive called it “a crushing disappointment when ... a young person throws away the opportunity for a promising future.”
Asked how much responsibility a college head coach should accept for a player’s off-field behavior, Florida coach Will Muschamp said: “You’re 100 percent responsible for every student-athlete on your football team.”
Hernandez played for Urban Meyer, Muschamp’s predecessor, during his career with the Gators.