Johnny Manziel has been living the life since making his mark known on the college football map last fall. After leading Texas A&M to an impressive first run through the SEC and winning a Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman, Manziel has certainly become the talk of the town. And this town. And this town. And that town. But how does a young mind stay so grounded as his profile blows up faster than most can keep track? For Manziel the solution appears to be taking college courses online.
Manziel is taking advantage of Texas A&M's online course options this semester and removing himself from the spotlight in College Station, at least in some respects. the four classes Manziel opted to take this spring were all available online, so the only time Manziel intends to spend on campus will be for workouts in the football facility, practices and perhaps sporadically in beaten. While this all sounds like it is a well-thought-out plan, it seems part of the decision was not his own.
According to reports, such as this one from CBS Sports, Manziel was forced to switch out of an English class on-campus because he was said to be too much of a distraction. A class of 20 to 25 students turned out to be, as Manziel puts it, "more of a big deal" than he thought.
What exactly does that mean? The students enrolled in the class were too busy dazing over Johnny Football's charming smile to pay attention to the professor and turn in an essay on iambic pentameter? Was Manziel causing a ruckus himself? Did 150 students attempt to transfer in to the class because they wanted a chance to say they attended a class with a Heisman Trophy winner? Nobody seems to know for sure what the details behind the decision were, but it is a bizarre situation that has resulted in a high profile football player being unable to have a normal college experience.
This could be opening the doors to the way of the future as it relates to high profile football (and basketball) players and collegiate academics. As online courses become more open and available to students it may not be long before we see more and more star student-athletes taking advantage of these opportunities to rest comfortably in their home and complete their academic requirements. As long as the NCAA allows for these courses to be acceptable, and with the increasing popularity of the options that appears to be a safe bet, then it makes sense for star players to be able to use them to avoid the grind of getting from class to class and sitting in a class room where everybody knows your name, and may want your autograph.
As someone who has taken online courses I will suggest that there are benefits to being able to study and work at your own pace, but of course there are benefits to in-class sessions as well. Online courses do not necessarily offer the same face-to-face interaction with peers and teachers, but today's technology is filled with ways to include that as well between Skype, FaceTime and more increasingly popular and easy-to-use video chat options. Email is also available 24 hours a day, as opposed to class time and office hours.
Manziel certainly is not one to shy away from attention, but his motives to avoid extra distractions where he can in this instance are admirable. Will this become the norm for college football's top players? Eventually, yes.
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