I am an Owl. I root for Rice week in week out. And it is tough of course. Since I graduated they have gone 15-23 (including today). Joy.
And Texas A&M is better at football than Rice is. Yes we may have had more total yard and more than a QUARTER (over sixteen minutes) more time of possession, but at the end of the day it is still Rice playing a top ten team. A&M made its share of mistakes as did Rice. Turnovers for both teams, key penalties for both teams. It’s week one. You know the drill.
But here I am in my third paragraph on a post titled, for most readers probably, just “Manziel” or “Hate Manziel” and I haven’t mentioned him yet. Yes I think he’s an individual lacking control of himself (although the announcers suggested that that made him a better player – only to later turn around and say that his lack of leadership led to his teammates also getting hit with personal foul penalties), but this post isn’t really about him. He is very talented (although he didn’t really outshine their second stringer Joeckel who went an impressive 14/19 for 190 yards and 1/0 TD/INT – of course we are talking about Rice so outshining is difficult, I know), but I did worry that a number of other talented players on their team (Joeckel most clearly, but probably others as well) were getting outshined.
Certainly Manziel behaved poorly on the field. USA Today summarizes most of the key points here. The highlights include multiple clear examples of trash talk to Rice players. Of course, we were probably trash talking him too but didn’t get flagged for it and it wasn’t obvious. For some bizarre reason he was miming signing autographs. I don’t know why he would think that was a good thing when his investigation is still officially open by the NCAA. I like to think he was saying “People pay me to sign pieces of paper what have you got?”. Yeah he scored a few TDs on us, but we sacked him a few times too so whatever. The missed detail in the linked article that I found particularly ridiculous was when he shows up to sit down on his own bench and requests that players make room for him. A beefy looking lineman promptly gets up and walks away as Manziel cracks a megawatt smile.
But this story, despite the title, isn’t about Manziel. It’s first about the media coverage of him. What?? The media overcovers athletes who are colorful (notice the end of the title of the link above)? Okay true, but hopefully my suggestive title drives enough angry traffic to this site to pay for all the beer I drank every time they mentioned Manziel. It could have been more than once a minute and that doesn’t even account for the Manziel cam they had going on him throughout the first half (when he wasn’t even eligible to play). It sounded like the announcers knew that Rice apparently had a football team and was a food that is delicious with curry among other things. It took ages for them to mention a single Rice player despite our first quarter dominance (neither claim is hyperbole for those who didn’t watch this epic Texas showdown).
Okay, so why am I writing this article? To trash talk ESPN’s massive overcoverage of single silly athletes? There is another problem with the whole situation. Sumlin (the Aggies (that’s what someone from A&M is called apparently) head coach) claimed that Manziel had matured. That said, he still wasn’t voted a team captain despite literally winning the highest prize awarded to any college footballer last year. It comes to mind that it is unclear to me what the A&M coaching staff has been doing. Their team received a handful of unforced personal foul penalties including one ejection. So controlling behavior clearly wasn’t taught. An undersized Rice team showed up and showed A&M how to play ball (before their players quickly learned from the lesson and trounced us, I get it) out of the gates. And when interviewed at half time (I missed the post-game interview, relevant comments would be appreciated) he showed no sign of even knowing what team he was playing. To all coaches: acknowledging your opponent’s strengths is just about the classiest thing you can do. We all want to see it more.
Anyways, my Rice Owls beat the spread by a touchdown, taught A&M how to play ball, and stayed classy. For us, that’s a win.