Despite winning two BCS Championships in a row, AJ McCarron has always been an after-thought to the masses.
His success is a product of Alabama’s system.
He’s a game manager.
He’s Katherine Webb’s boyfriend.
The Katherine Webb phenomenon is the perfect example of how the masses have perceived AJ McCarron. McCarron wins his second national championship in a row, and nobody talks about him. Yet, his girlfriend was all over the place.
Finally we have a legitimate identity for this talented quarterback, and you can give Johnny Manziel an assist for it. There was so much hysteria regarding Manziel’s offseason and his appearance at SEC Media Days this week that the contrast between Manziel and McCarron could not have been made any clearer.
While Manziel reiterates that he’s going to do things any normal 20-year old will despite being the biggest thing in college football, McCarron has a different take: “You can’t be a normal 22-year-old kid…Every 22-year-old’s not doing what I’m doing. And I’m not able to do what they can do. I can’t go out and act the fool in public and drink excessively and end up being wild. I can’t do that. I’m not saying I want to in any type of way. But I want to be the type of guy that younger kids can look up to me.”
McCarron tells us how he’d like to be a good role model and eventually help kids. Manziel? “I’m not going for a Miss America pageant. I’m playing football. I’m a 20-year old kid. You can take that for what it’s worth but I’m enjoying my life and continuing to live life to the fullest. Hopefully that doesn’t upset too many people.”
Their demeanors are different. Manziel walked casually into Media Days laughing while he knew he was about to get grilled. He confidently took the heat and answered questions. McCarron is more quiet, more reserved, even a little shy.
The contrast has been firmly and publicly established.
AJ McCarron is now a fully formed individual in the eyes of mainstream college football fans. We get him. We know what he’s about. He’s not just a game manager anymore. He is the anti-Manziel.
And the media now has the perfect story for the next two months. The contrast between Manziel and McCarron will be played over and over as the media hypes their upcoming matchup. CBS and ESPN will tell us about these two friends that are so similar, yet so different. It will fuel the coverage of one of the biggest games in September when Alabama heads to College Station on September 14th.
It’s easy to look at the contrast and conclude that McCarron is who you’d want as your leader over Manziel. McCarron is all about “we” and Manziel is all about “I’ right? It’s not that simple.
The two have different personalities, yet it’s a cop out to say one is right and the other is bad.
As I’ve stated very clearly, Manziel’s personality is outstanding for college football. Manziel is confident, probably cocky. He’s got a chip on his shoulder. He wants people to know he’s the best. He doesn’t just want to win; he wants to make a statement. These qualities can be a major asset when kept in check. So far, there’s no reason to believe that come football season, these qualities will be anything but an asset as the Aggies take the field.
Consider LSU in recent years. How many games have they been pitiful for a quarter or two, but their swagger and attitude never fades. They make a big play, turn the game, and never look back. This attitude is what drives LSU in opponents’ stadiums. Why does LSU seems to revel in the toughest atmospheres? They eat it up. Johnny Manziel is no different.
It’s not an either-or question of AJ McCarron vs Johnny Manziel. They’re both outstanding college quarterbacks. Your team is lucky to have either. Their strengths differ, but coaches plan their offenses based on their quarterback’s individual strengths. McCarron and Manziel both lead his respective team effectively in a very different way from the other. They differ in personality and style. Yet, they’re the same in that they are both very comfortable in their own skin. Isn’t that really all we can ask?