Manti Te’o during the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game at Sun Life Stadium on January 7, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
The playbook for becoming a candidate for collegiate football’s top award once included athleticism, acceptance into a Division I program, team achievement and contention for a nation or major conference championship. But, could controversy also help a player advance to winning a Heisman Trophy? 2012′s class of Heisman favorites make a good case for the theory.
Johnny “Football” Manziel is now encapsulated in what amounts to a silly scandal after revealing to an Associated Press reporter he not only visits Texas A&M once a month, but is only taking online coursework. The controversial story is only just starting to boil in the blogosphere, with reactions ranging from a “Are you kidding me?” by Bleacher Reports’ Seph Anderson to Uproxx’s Ashley Burns ribbing Manziel for not “wanting to rub elbows with the common man.”
All this attention comes just a month after drawing brief attention when TMZ published photos of Manziel drinking underage in January after TAMU’s Cotton Bowl win at Dallas’ Avenu Lounge, a 21-and-up club.
All this attention to Manziel isn’t an isolated case of a Heisman favorite making waves. Manti Te’o is lying lower these days than he was when the Notre Dame linebacker accepted the Lombardi Trophy in Houston just two months ago.
Te’o, who was second to Manziel for the 2012 Heisman, is in need of good public relations after it was revealed his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, whom he met online, was allegedly portrayed online and on the phone by catfisher Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.
That star-studded event, which led to such groundbreaking television with Katie Couric and Dr. Phil McGraw, resulted in questions about Te’o’s maturity, sexuality, and for some, his sanity.
Still, these events haven’t stemmed interest in either men by the National Football League. A meeting between the Bears and Te’o is scheduled for today, according to CBS Sports, while the Aggies expect Manziel to go pro next year, entering the 2014 NFL Draft.
While controversial athletes are nothing new, it seems possible dynamic, quirky personalities could help bolster a player’s case for the Heisman. Something Collin Klein missed out on.
The Kansas State quarterback rode a wave of accolades to become third in the 2012 Heisman race, including such boasting points as being the No. 1 Passer in the Big 12, first in BCS AQ history to have 20 plus rushing touchdowns and 10 plus passing touchdowns in multiple seasons, and being called the “toughest player in college football,” according to ESPN College GameDay’s Kirk Herbstreit.
“They call Collin Klein, ‘Little Bill (Snyder).’ He is so much like his coach,” Joe Posnanski wrote on Sports on Earth. “He speaks earnestly and in cliches. He avoids controversy like poison ivy. He deflects praise, embraces blame and has already graduated. He just got married.
He is — and this is said by everyone from his coaches to his teammates — the kind of person you would hope your son would become.”
And really, who wants a Heisman trophy winner like that?
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