Okay, what if Johnny Manziel hadn't played for Texas A&M in 2012?

Ronald Martinez

Life without Johnny in College Station could've changed everything from the Heisman to the recruiting rankings. And newspaper columns would've been much more readable.

There are now multiple local reports that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was on the verge of transferring after being suspended following last August's preseason arrest. I don't care how close this came to actually happening (and daaamn sure don't care about Parking Ticket Tweetgate or its fallout), but couldn't help thinking about how different college football would be right now if Johnny Football became Johnny JUCO for a year.

Let's review the calendar. It gets weirder as we go.


Bob Levey, Getty.

Sept. 8: Jameill Showers, Texas A&M starting quarterback.

We shouldn't assume Showers would've been a terrible downgrade. He would've been an above-average quarterback at worst, one who would've scored many touchdowns for Kevin Sumlin's air raid on SEC defenses. He would've been the good quarterback of a good team with an excellent offensive line and excellent head coach, and by the end of the year, the Aggies would be bombing on folks.

He doesn't have Manziel's wheels or escapeability, but just about nobody else does, either. He also would've inspired fewer dumbass newspaper columns.

Texas A&M loses to Florida in its first game of the season, with Showers' previous game experience (he'd appeared in five 2011 games, throwing a handful passes) giving him one small advantage Manziel didn't have.

Oct. 6: Texas A&M loses to Ole Miss?

Iffy, since Manziel's two picks and a fumble helped create the need for a Manziel comeback (two touchdowns in the final six minutes) in the first place. The Rebels weren't especially tough in Oxford, losing to Vanderbilt and getting splattered by Texas, but a SEC road game is a SEC road game. A&M very well could've been 3-2 instead of 4-1. For the sake of argument, let's mark it an L.

Oct. 13: Texas A&M loses to Louisiana Tech.

Hurricane Isaac made its Gulf Coast landfall on August 28, postponing A&M's game in Shreveport against LA Tech. I don't believe this would've changed whether Manziel had transferred or not.

Manziel did, however, put up 576 yards worth of offense against the Bulldogs, breaking his own record for the highest output in SEC history. A 72-yard Manziel run was the final difference in a 59-57 hot-gunnin' victory for the Aggies.

He also made a touchdown-saving tackle -- this play had already been blown dead, but still:

The Aggies are now 3-3 instead of 5-1.

Oct. 20: Texas A&M probably loses to LSU.

The Tigers coming to town likely means 3-4, unless we think Showers could've either avoided throwing three picks or thrown a few more than 276 yards. He might've, but I'm fine with calling it 3-4.

Mike Zarrilli, Getty.

Nov. 10: Texas A&M does not beat Alabama.


Alabama remains No. 1. Regarding spread offenses, certain SEC fans and analysts get to leave their heads in the sand a little longer. A&M's record is now 5-5.

Will both new SEC teams miss bowl games? Is the SEC just one big sucker? How far doth Jim Delany's conference realignment plan surpass Mike Slive's? An emboldened Gordon Gee clears his throat.

Nov. 17: Nothing matters.

No. 1 2 Kansas State loses to Baylor. No. 2 3 Oregon loses to Stanford. Nobody's mad about Alabama ranking in the top two before, during, or after this.

Nov. 19ish: Nobody makes fun of the Big Ten adding Maryland.

Delany's the one who knows what he's doing here. How ya gonna respond to this one, Slive? Maybe add Iowa State? Heh! Try and catch up, hillbillies! You hillbillies!

Everybody still makes fun of the Rutgers part, though.

Dec. 2: Revising the SEC's bowl lineup:

  1. BCS National Championship: Alabama vs. Notre Dame
  2. Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Louisville (Even though the Gators' resume would now be absent one of its wins over a ranked team, boosting Georgia's case for the SEC's final BCS spot.)
  3. Capital One: Georgia vs. Nebraska (Florida could go here.)
  4. Outback: South Carolina vs. Michigan
  5. Cotton: Texas A&M LSU vs. Oklahoma (With A&M out, the 10-2 Tigers are the clear choice, especially since the Cotton has preferred SEC West teams.)
  6. Chick-fil-A: LSU Ole Miss vs. Clemson (Fans of a 6-6 Rebels team were fired up enough to fill up Legion damn Field. Who would pass up a 7-5 Rebels team?)
  7. Gator: Mississippi State Texas A&M vs. Northwestern (7-5 A&M, 8-4 Vandy, or 7-5 Mississippi State? Perhaps the new guys, but MSU could feel like a safer bet.)
  8. Music City: Vanderbilt vs. N.C. State (The Nashville bowl can't pass up the Dores here either.)
  9. Compass: Ole Miss Mississippi State vs. Pitt (I'm sorry.)
Also, some Texas JUCO beats Iowa Western for the NJCAA national title thanks to its quarterback, who's kind of short and likes Drake and got suspended by Texas A&M.

Mike Stobe, Getty.

Dec. 8: Somebody wins the Heisman.

The non-Manziel top 10, in our dimension: Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o, Kansas State QB Collin Klein, USC WR Marqise Lee, Ohio State QB Braxton Miller, South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, NIU QB Jordan Lynch, West Virginia WR Tavon Austin, Oregon RB Kenjon Barner, and Georgia LB Jarvis Jones, with Te'o and Klein as the only other finalists.

How do we edit that?

You'd have to think someone from a 13-0 Alabama team would be represented. Before A&M beat the Tide, QB AJ McCarron was being mentioned by some as a Heisman longshot, thanks in part to that comeback drive against LSU and his impressive efficiency numbers. Could an unbeaten McCarron be a finalist?

Let's go a full five: Te'o, Klein, Lee, Miller, and McCarron. It comes down to Te'o over McCarron, making the title game even more fun.

Dec. 19: Baylor welcomes three JUCO transfers, instead of two.

Where would Johnny Manziel end up?

Some of the teams he was recruited by would either have a quarterback for the future in place (Oregon, Stanford) or be in coaching transition (Louisiana Tech). But he was also recruited by Art Briles, who'd have an in-state connection and tends to bring on a few JUCOs every December. With Nick Florence on the way out, why not set up a competition?

Jan. 1: Texas A&M finishes 8-5.

All in all, a successful SEC debut, with close losses to LSU and Florida and an entertaining January victory over nine-win Northwestern, with Showers earning bowl MVP honors. Northwestern fans are already bolt-throwing furious about the previous sentence.

It feels stupid to claim one player made a three-win difference in a team's season, but it's pretty hard to argue A&M could've beaten Alabama and Louisiana Tech without Manziel. A win over Ole Miss could've happened and likely would've probably meant a Chick-fil-A Bowl against Clemson, but that's best-case.

Jan. 4: The Oklahoma-LSU Cotton Bowl is pretty good.

Bob Stoops is pleasant for the rest of the offseason and doesn't offer especially noteworthy opinions about the SEC. Mike Stoops doesn't imply any opposing quarterbacks are future inmates. Mark Stoops just recruits his ass off.

That "Hello" commercial doesn't become a punchline.

Jan. 16: The Heisman Trophy winner's dead girlfriend was fake.


Feb. 1: Robert Nkemdiche might sign with Clemson or Alabama.

Remember how we have Ole Miss beating Texas A&M? Read this on the impact watching his brother lose to Manziel had on the younger Nkemdiche:

Among the stunned and inconsolable was Denzel, who operated as a spy on Manziel during some plays and was one of the few defenders quick enough to catch up with the phenom. The elder Nkemdiche had actually tackled Manziel by the foot to prevent a first down conversion in the first quarter. Yet on each of Manziel's explosive plays in the fourth quarter, the quarterback broke contain first from the defensive end, something that was not lost on the younger Nkedmiche, who watched his brother and teammates unravel in devastation.

Also, the Aggies still do very well, but without "come play for a 10-win team with the reigning Heisman winner" as a closing pitch, a top-10 247 Composite class is not in the cards.

Feb 27: Jameill Showers does not transfer to UTEP.

You thus likely do not think about UTEP for a full offseason.

All offseason: No newspaper columnists write finger-gnawingly stupid columns about Texas A&M's quarterback.

This almost makes the whole thing worth it.

April 25: A&M LT Luke Joeckel maybe doesn't get drafted No. 2.

Maybe he does. Eric Fisher didn't block for Johnny Manziel either, and he got drafted No. 1. But maybe.

May 1: Everyone laughs at Texas A&M's stadium expansion plan.

The plan might be a little bit less ostentatious, though.

Actually, knowing Aggies, it would probably be even more over the top.

June 20: Texas A&M does not have the country's No. 1 recruiting class.

Meaning Tennessee and Kentucky probably rank even closer to the top of the Composite. Told you this got weirder as we went along.

Sept. 14: Alabama at Texas A&M is another SEC West game.

It's a pretty big deal. Full house and everything. It's named the 3:30 p.m. ET CBS game a couple weeks in advance, not four months in advance. Four months in advance? For a Texas A&M game? That would never happen.

More from SB Nation:

Preseason All-America team led by Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel

Why Alabama will not threepeat

2013 bowl projections for all 35 games

Bill Connelly’s Big 12 preview countdown almost done

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