Joe Medley: Manziel's Heisman reminds fans in Alabama how good they've had it
by Joe Medley
jmedley@annistonstar.com
Dec 09, 2012 | 5680 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel poses with the Heisman Trophy after becoming the first freshman to win the award, on Saturday in New York. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel poses with the Heisman Trophy after becoming the first freshman to win the award, on Saturday in New York. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)
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The resentful undercurrent of tweets and Facebook status updates from some Alabama fans wasn’t subtle.

Paraphrasing the sentiment: “Everyone enjoy the Heisman Trophy ceremony while I make reservations for Miami.”

As is often the case, sentiments coming from Alabama players were much different.

“CONGRATS TO JOHNNY FOOTBALL,” linebacker Nico Johnson tweeted, in all capital letters. “HE TRULY DESERVES IT.”

From defensive lineman Damion Square: “Johnny Manziel well deserved #Heisman.”

Anyone resentful that No. 2 Alabama didn’t have a Heisman finalist should take a cue from Crimson Tide players. That Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the award, thanks in no small part to his performance in Tuscaloosa, was the ultimate compliment.

It’s also the latest reminder to college football fans in Alabama to enjoy this run of championships and watching Heisman winners play in Bryant-Denny Stadium and Jordan-Hare Stadium, our two college football mega-churches.

Alabama and Auburn have been very much a part of the greatness, combining to win the past three national titles. Alabama can make it four by beating Notre Dame on Jan. 7 in Miami.

The Crimson Tide will play for its third national title in four years.

The fact that Alabama has been so good, winning 60 games since the start of the 2008 season, played a huge role in Manziel’s making Heisman history. The biggest boost to his Heisman candidacy came in his performance against then-top-ranked Alabama.

When Manziel scrambled away from — and passed over and around — Nick Saban-coached defenders in Bryant-Denny Stadium, the Heisman electorate recognized he had done something special.

Manziel had the season-long body of work to back up the one-day accomplishment, but that one-day accomplished proved he could do it against the best. What he did against Alabama that day played a big role in helping a freshman not just win the Heisman but win the vote by a comfortable margin.

So to any Alabama fans resentful that quarterback AJ McCarron and/or center Barrett Jones didn’t get the invite to at least sit and watch in the Downtown Athletic Club, buck up. Manziel’s win against history is a win shared by Alabama.

It also served to remind everyone that Manziel, who turned 20 Thursday, was not the youngest Heisman winner. Ex-Alabama running back Mark Ingram was nine days shy of his 20th birthday when he became the first Tide player to accept college football’s top individual award in 2009.

And to all college football fans in the sport’s capital, digest this good-times factoid: three of the past four Heisman winners played in both Bryant-Denny and Jordan-Hare during their Heisman seasons.

Ingram did it because the 2009 Iron Bowl was in Auburn.

Former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton did it because the 2010 Iron Bowl was in Tuscaloosa.

Thanks to Texas A&M’s 2012 entry into the SEC, placement in the West Division and scheduling good fortune, Manziel played in both venues this season. He combined for 182 rushing yards and 513 passing yards and rushed or passed for seven touchdowns.

Add the fact that former Alabama running back Trent Richardson, a 2011 Heisman finalist, played in our two mega-churches during his relevant season, and college football’s most passionate connoisseurs have seen a lot of greatness over the past four years.

The outcomes of those games were tough pills for the home fans. Then again, their teams weren’t denied any title opportunities, so let’s have amens from the congregations.

OK, how about tweets and statuses befitting college football’s most discerning and appreciative fan bases?

Sports Columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter @jmedley_star.