When your college football coach compares you to a former Heisman Trophy winning freshman quarterback, you would take it as the highest of compliments. On the other hand, when that quarterback is Johnny Manziel, there could be a double meaning.
Over the last two weeks, UCLA quarterback and a Heisman contender in his own right as an incoming sophomore, Josh Rosen, has drawn eyeballs, criticism, and supporters by wearing a derogatory hat aimed at Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump whilst playing one of his courses and posting it to his Instagram feed.
For the most part, a media that was polled in a study as being only 7 percent Republican in 2015 thought the hat was okay, with outlets such as College Football Talk dubbing it “cool,” in spite of the fact that blowing F-bombs at someone running for the most important public position maybe in the world is incredibly disrespectful.
Rosen then took to Instagram in the wake of UCLA’s announcement that the school signed a deal with Under Armour for $280 million with a snarky “gotta love non-profits” post, highlighting the division in thought between the never-ending pay-for-play argument surrounding college sports.
At UCLA through the 2014-15 season, football brings in a reported 46 percent of all athletic revenue. There, football is one of only two sports (basketball) where revenue exceeds expenses.
No words on whether or not Rosen thinks the football program’s profits should be doled out to all athletes, college sports socialism style, or if he just wants his cut since they make the most loot.
After the Trump flap, his head coach, Jim Mora Jr. castigated him by telling the media that he asked him whether he wanted to head down the path of Manziel or that of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Troy Aikman (in order of better-ness).
Rosen not listening shows a deep lack of respect for what his coach is asking, whether he agrees with the stance or not, and those things normally don’t end up well. Rosen is no stranger to social media hijinks, most notably with the more innocuous hot tub post in his dorm room from last October.
The details aside, though, Rosen is showing disrespect to his coach, who wants his program run a certain way that avoids these public issues.
On the Pay-for-Play thing, it’s only natural that athletes and college students have an opinion. After all, late teens-early 20’s is the finding oneself period that leads to a lot of rapid response, microwave emotions and reactions. The truth is, both sides aren’t even trying to address the real problem, which is not athlete monies or, if you’re on the other side, the ubiquitous “priceless” value of a college degree.
The real issue is the cost of college versus the ROI of a college degree, where one seems to be accelerating in cost versus decreasing in value as nearly 50 percent of college graduates work jobs where the required degree attainment is a high school diploma. But to attack that issue would deal with nuance, and probably a drop in professor/administrator salaries, plus a cultural change in how we view a college education.
We all know none of that is happening.
On the other stuff, Rosen, who has a chance to be great, can derail it by becoming more of a story off the field than on it. The best bet is that if you really have a passionate conviction about an issue, be it a political figure, the nature of non-profits, or what have you, get involved. Learn the real issues. Speak intelligently rather than obscenely and viscerally. Old people’s stuff, I know.
As for the Manziel comparison, that will forever be unfair. Manziel has woken up and rolled out of bed with house money since he was born. Whether he’s good at football or not, he could toss spitwads over an overpass for the next 20 years and still be filthy rich.
Manziel will forever be college football’s Red Herring with stuff like this, because situations often dictate motivation. There’s a reason lottery winners often end up broke. Manziel is insulated from financial failure.
The bottom line of all of this, though, is that a bright future isn’t worth hemorrhaging over some social media love if the coach says it’s not supposed to be part of the program. In places where the coach doesn’t care, run wild but understand the consequences of doing so later.
Mora is looking out for Rosen on many levels, and he should probably just listen. When in doubt, listen to old(er) people. Either you learn when you’re young, or you learn when you’re old. Life probably is easier with the former than the latter.