After Saturday’s game between Alabama and Texas A&M, three things were clear:
- Alabama is now two games – LSU and SEC Championship game – from playing for their third National Championship.
- Johnny Manziel is the best offensive player in the nation.
- Kevin Sumlin deserves a seat at the table of best coaches in college football.
The first point from that list was a direct result of Alabama beating Texas A&M 49-42 on Saturday. But the last two points were a direct result of what happened during the game. And frankly, what happened in that game was that Johnny Manziel and Kevin Sumlin put on performances that will make them both a lot of money down the road.
The prevailing opinion of Johnny Manziel has been that he lacks maturity. And that in turn has turned off NFL scouts and GMs. But on Saturday, none of that immaturity was evident. Manziel carried himself as a professional on Saturday. He was completely locked in on the task at hand. No taunting, no overzealous, and we also got a few glimpses of him encouraging teammates on the sideline.
This was the Johnny Manziel NFL scouts and GMs want to see. The Johnny Manziel that lights up the scoreboard, jogs off the field, then comes back and does it all over again.
Even when Texas A&M got down, Manziel didn’t waiver or throw in the towel. He kept bringing his team back. He kept competing. And if he keeps it up, NFL teams will have no choice than to take a hard look at him on draft day and ask themselves, “do we want to be the team that passed on Johnny Manziel?”
As for Sumlin, it’s widely known that NFL teams are intrigued by him as a NFL coach. But like Manziel, he comes with his own questions, mainly can he handle coaching the stars of the NFL? Sumlin has the one player that can be compared to a NFL start on his roster and some in the NFL don’t think he’s handled him very well.
But on Saturday, Sumlin handled his star and the game as a whole perfectly. As Alabama began to do to his team what Alabama does to almost every team, Sumlin kept his team focused and weathered the storm. What could’ve been a blowout ended up being a game where Nick Saban had to admit that Sumlin and his Aggies “took ten years off his life.”
Yes, Alabama won the game and there’s a pretty good chance that Alabama will play for another National Championship. But the biggest winners on Saturday were Johnny Manziel and Kevin Sumlin because they proved, in the biggest game on their schedule (and arguably in the college football season), that they both can handle the big stage and their business while on that stage.