Gene Chizik's advice for Kevin Sumlin and Johnny Manziel
Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday August 19, 2013
Texas A&M is getting ready for the season while eligibility questions about Johnny Manziel loom over everything.
One coach who went through a similar situation was Gene Chizik, whose Auburn team pushed through eligibility questions about eventual Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton en route to a national championship in 2010.
Chizik joined The Tim Brando Show and explained what advice he would give to Kevin Sumlin in dealing with questions around a high-profile athlete and how to keep everyone focused during a season.
“To be honest with you, you don’t worry about what’s happening when (players are) over at your building. You’re worried about what happens when they leave," Chizik said. "He’s got a huge undertaking in front of him, just to keep his team focused, because at some point, these other kids get tired of hearing it. They get tired of the what-if game, the question marks. One of the things Kevin has to guard against is the team eventually becoming bitter, becoming ‘what about us?’ The talk is about Johnny, what’s going to happen and the what-if game.
“‘Look, you’ve got 124 other guys on the team. What about us? We’re good players, too.’ There’s got to be a real good mix of messages to his team that explain to his team, ‘Look, this is our team. This is not about Johnny. It’s about us. All of you are good players. We’re going to do this together.’ The main message he has to get across is, ‘If you don’t hear it from me, then it’s not true. I will tell you anything that is relevant. I will tell you anything you need to know. Anything else you hear is not going to be relevant and is not necessarily true.’ That’s got to be the message that’s impressed upon them the most.”
Chizik was asked if anyone on Auburn had become bitter, but he credited the team, the coaches and Newton for handling things the right way, and it helped the team move forward despite the outside questions. That will be the task for Sumlin.
“We kept everything out front. There were no secrets,” Chizik said. “There was nothing we were trying to hide. Leading up to everything with our team, we told them, ‘If there’s something you need to know, it will come from us.’ Then we tried to carry on business as usual."