Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel faced a season-long suspension before his Heisman-winning campaign last season, but Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said he helped get the penalty overturned because his star was taking other penalties seriously.
Manziel confirmed in a Texas Monthly interview multiple media reports that he was suspended for the entire 2012 season for his role in a bar fight last summer when he was found with a fake ID. As a result of the harsh penalty, Manziel, who was battling for a starting spot as a freshman, decided to transfer.
"They banned me from athletics and from my scholarships," Manziel said, according to Texas Monthly. "I had worked hard, and done everything Coach Sumlin asked me to do, and then they told me I couldn't play anymore."
Manziel's mother, Michelle, told Texas Monthly: "We were shocked. If they're going to do that, we're fixing to have to transfer him to a junior college to get him to play."
Sumlin, however, wrote a letter in support of Manziel's appeal of the suspension, arguing that the quarterback was adhering to strict internal punishment. It's not clear what those penalties entailed.
"A lot has been said about discipline, but he went through all that, which is a little bit more than people think," Sumlin said, according to NewsOK.com. "That's not a public deal, it's just what I ask him to do. He did all those things, and his parents were involved in all of that. So for him to go through that, then go through camp and those types of things and earn the job, that's what's brought him to where he is now."
Manziel's suspension was overturned on appeal, and he was required to take a six-hour class. The day after the ruling, he won the starting job. Manziel led the Aggies to an 11-2 season, ultimately becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman.
His offseason has been filled with controversy. A tweet saying "Bulls--- like tonight is a reason why I can't wait to leave college station...whenever it may be" was posted to his Twitter account and later deleted. The San Antonio Express-News reported that Manziel's frustration arose from getting a parking ticket.
Sumlin hinted that overwhelming attention contributed to Manziel's state of mind at the time of the tweet but that life had become more stable.
"Like I said before, [Manziel] is still himself, and he has made some mistakes and he knows that. That's part of growing up," Sumlin said. "I think, like I've said before, we've got a support process that's in place for him and his family, and I know that ever since summer school started he has been back hard at work, and he's happy to be back with his teammates."