The legend of Johnny Football almost never came to be, at least at Texas A&M.
Johnny Manziel almost transferred out of Texas A&M after his arrest last year, after he was initially suspended by the school for the entire 2012 season. That very interesting piece of news was broken by the Dallas Morning News, citing an unnamed source. The news comes a few days after Manziel angrily tweeted that he can't wait to leave College Station.
Manziel was charged with disorderly conduct by fighting, failure to identify and having a fake driver's license last summer. The report said A&M decided to suspend him for the entire season, and had Manziel not won his appeal he was going to leave the school, the Dallas Morning News said.
Manziel won the appeal of his suspension, which significantly changed the course of college football history.
Manziel set several records last year in becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. The suspension was not handed down by the athletic department, but the school, and the report said dean of student life Anne Reber ruled in favor of Manziel's appeal.
But just think of what might have changed had the ruling gone the other way and Manziel had transferred:
• Where would Manziel have gone? Since we're all caught up in the greatness of Manziel now, we've mostly forgotten that he's the most improbable Heisman winner ever, based on his status just before his award-winning season. As Texas A&M ruled on his appeal, Manziel was just a three-star recruit. Nobody knew at this time last year he was Johnny Football. Had he transferred and been restricted from going elsewhere in the SEC (and possibly other schools), who would have taken on this good but not great recruit who at that point was best known for being arrested and leaving Texas A&M following a suspension? Some school would have grabbed him (maybe Texas would have gotten their safety after all!), but obviously his entire career would have played out differently at another school, especially having to sit out a second straight season.
• Would Texas A&M have been nearly as good without Manziel? The Aggies are one of the up-and-coming programs in college football and doing well in recruiting, but a lot of that is due to Manziel's contributions to an 11-2 season. And would Jameill Showers, who was competing with Manziel for the job last year, been a star in his own right? ("Jameill Football" doesn't have the same ring to it.) It's possible, given how Kevin Sumlin's offense produces yards and points. It's more likely that Texas A&M wouldn't be the defending Cotton Bowl champions right now.
• Alabama still probably wins the BCS title anyway, but I guess the possibility exists that the Manziel-led upset in Tuscaloosa sharpened the Crimson Tide's focus and humbled them down the stretch, allowing them to run the table including a close win against Georgia in the SEC title game. Or maybe, Alabama's loss affected Oregon and Kansas State just a bit, and the resulting pressure of knowing the path to a title was clear played at least a small part in their upset losses a week later. The season likely plays out the same way, but it's at least possible that Alabama not losing to Texas A&M would have upset the ecosystem in some fashion.
• Would Manti Te'o be the Heisman Trophy winner right now? You'd have to assume so. It's crazy to believe this but absolutely true: The Te'o fake girlfriend scandal would have been a much, much bigger deal had it all happened to a Heisman Trophy winner, especially the first solely defensive player ever to win it. The anger towards Te'o would have multiplied if he was in the cherished Heisman club. At least we were all spared that part of the story.
As fans of the sport, we're glad that it all worked out for Manziel and Texas A&M. But it sure is interesting to ponder all the different ways history would have changed if it hadn't.
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