If Cam Newton Can Go to Class at Auburn, Why Can't Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M?

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterFebruary 20, 2013

Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
Texas A&M QB Johnny ManzielUSA TODAY Sports

In the span of a year, Johnny Manziel has transformed himself from a relatively unknown dual-threat quarterback battling for the starting job at Texas A&M into a superstar.

On the heels of a record-setting season that saw Manziel set the SEC record for total offense with 5,116 total yards, lead his team to a 11-2 record and become the first redshirt freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, Manziel has gone from "just an elite college football player" to a full-fledged celebrity.

Since taking home the hardware from New York City, the 20-year-old Kerrville, Texas native has been seen courtside at NBA games, winning big at an Oklahoma casino and partying at various big-time events including the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras.

Not a bad gig if you can get it, for sure. But Manziel's superstar status has come with one drawback—or so it seems.

According to the San Antonio Express News, Manziel and Texas A&M decided that it's best if Manziel takes a course load this semester that consists of four online sports management classes. The decision came after Manziel was reportedly swamped with autograph and photograph seekers at an on-campus English class.

Fair enough.

Online classes are becoming more and more popular, and there's certainly nothing wrong with Manziel taking advantage of the method.

But let's be honest, to say that going to class would be too much of a distraction is a little much.

Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and former Alabama running back Mark Ingram are all recent Heisman Trophy winners who have returned to college with eligibility remaining; Tebow and Ingram each had BCS National Championship rings to boot.

But the most recent example of a superstar football player attending class is currently taking place at another SEC school. Cam Newton, the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner and quarterback of the 2010 Auburn BCS National Championship team, is currently taking classes on campus on the Plains.

Newton sits in the front row, and aside from an impromptu Valentine's Day singing telegram (via: WarBlogle.com), the buzz from Newton's return to class has dissipated a bit after a flurry of pictures at the start of the semester.

He's even playing intramural basketball and helping out on Student Government Association campaigns (h/t TheWarEagleReader.com).

While Manziel may be a superstar at the collegiate level, Newton's star shines just a bit brighter.

The No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2011 NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers won Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in America's most popular pro sports league, and he has been featured in advertisements for corporate giants Gatorade, Under Armour and Microsoft.

If Manziel wants to take online classes, that's fine. The trend is growing for a reason; and as someone who has an 11-step commute to the office, I certainly understand the draw of being able to accomplish day-to-day tasks from the comfort of—well, wherever. 

But let's not pretend that the distraction is too much to overcome, because recent history has taught us that it's not.