Sumlin: Heisman shouldn’t be a punishment

Texas A&M coach football coach Kevin Sumlin said in a recent radio interview that quarterback Johnny Manziel is handling his fame well and that “winning the Heisman should not be a punishment.”

Sumlin told Houston’s Sports Radio 610 AM that Manziel is doing all the right things despite post-Heisman images circulating of him enjoying himself at a casino and schmoozing with celebrities at a Super Bowl party. Many of the pictures were posted by Manziel himself on social media.

“People forget when they were 19 and 20 years old and didn’t have that opportunity,” Sumlin said. “I told somebody the other day that there’s a bunch of people who wouldn’t have made it a month with the Heisman Trophy the way he’s handled it.”

Sumlin did not allow Manziel, a redshirt freshman, to speak to the media until after the regular season ended. Since then, Manziel, who proved to be well-spoken, humble and gracious, has seemingly been everywhere.

“Everybody’s got a camera phone, everybody’s got Instagram and Twitter, so it’s just different. We’re embarking on a new age,” Sumlin told the radio station.

Sumlin issued his “Heisman should not be a punishment” line during AT&T Cotton Bowl media sessions, but the sentiment has proved especially true as Manziel’s celebrity spread even more after the win over Oklahoma.

“For most people, the Cotton Bowl would’ve been their last game [after] winning the Heisman, or they would have had one more season,” Sumlin said. “But Johnny has three more years. He turned 20 the night before he won the Heisman, so it’s a whole different deal now and we’ve got a system in place.”

Sumlin said Texas A&M has done its diligence in making sure Manziel Mania doesn’t get out of control. Despite the many party pics of Manziel, Sumlin said his quarterback remains grounded.

“We’ve got the support systems in place,” Sumlin said. “So everybody can say what they want about where he is and what he’s doing in life. Times have changed, and I think he understands that. But winning the Heisman should not be a punishment, it should be a celebration, and obviously it hasn’t hurt his ability to perform.”

Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire