The ongoing Johnny Manziel saga has shown us what too much hype can do to a college football star. Yet in Columbia, S.C., Steve Spurrier is going out of his way to make sure smothering publicity doesn’t overwhelm his best player, Jadeveon Clowney.
According to The State, the Ol’ Ballcoach decided to close the Gamecocks’ fall practices, after previously agreeing to have them open, in part because he wants to limit the attention his star defensive lineman receives.
“Poor Jadeveon can’t even hardly get out on the field without getting somebody mad at him, so we just have to eliminate open practices, and we have to get some security guys out there, make sure our guys can get in and out of practice without having to sign autographs all the way up and down the field,” Spurrier told the paper.
Spurrier also lashed out about one reporter who “had 15 questions about Jadeveon” during a recent interview session.
“I answered a couple of them, and I said, ‘You know, we have talked about Jadeveon for seven months after that hit,’” Spurrier told The State. “He and Johnny Football, they are the only two guys in America anybody has talked about it seems like — Jadeveon’s hit and Johnny’s adventures all over the country. I think Jadeveon is tired of everybody talking about him. He’s ready for team, and hopefully what our team can achieve this year. We all know he’s a super player, but it’s a team sport.”
It’s interesting that Spurrier mentioned Manziel and Clowney, who are indeed in the same situation this season. Both are outstanding players whose celebrity status has, perhaps, begun to overshadow their talents on the field — if such a thing is possible. Both could easily be swallowed by the circuses that surround them.
But the difference between Manziel and Clowney is that Spurrier and South Carolina are going out of their way to shield Clowney from the hype. Meanwhile, Texas A&M is embracing it, much to Manziel’s detriment. In an article last week, Manziel’s father essentially accused the Aggies of exploiting his son, but you’ll hear no such accusations of Spurrier. That, at least in part, is why you’ll never see the praise of Jadeveon Clowney transform into the intense scrutiny Manziel faces every day.
At this point, it’s probably too late for A&M to stop the Johnny Football locomotive that they helped get rolling, but going forward, the Aggies and every other program in America should follow Spurrier’s lead when it comes to corralling star power.
“Every little thing I do is something big," Clowney told The State. "I just get a laugh out of it. (Spurrier) keeps telling me, ‘JD why do they keep asking questions about you?’ I say, ‘I don’t know coach.’ ”