Jim Gazzolo column: Hold off on Arch’s coronation

Published 10:42 am Thursday, June 30, 2022

So for now Arch Manning is headed to Texas.

In the past I would say his verbal commitment to the Longhorns ends the conversation.

These days, hardly.

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Commitments by players are as meaningful as contracts are for coaches when it comes to college football.

Buyouts, opt-outs, transfer portals, it all means today’s commitment is tomorrow’s decommitment.

So we shall see.

Yet the college football internet lit up as if Texas just won three national championships. All this for a kid who hasn’t thrown a football in a college practice.

Before the prize quarterback with the championship bloodline gets crowned the next great thing, let’s let him enjoy his senior prom.

Is Manning good? Seems like it. People in the so-called know say he is. So he probably is.

So for Texas it’s a big get … for the moment.

Yet, it should be noted that young Manning’s grandfather was a pretty good quarterback. His two uncles also had some skills. And his dad, they say, was good at the other end of passing drills.

Combined the four Mannings won not one national championship while playing college football.

That probably means we should play out the season when young Manning finally gets on the Austin campus.

This is no reason to hold anything against Arch Manning. He has seemingly done everything right — gets good grades, works hard, plays well in games. He has all the goods to be great.

This is on the rest of us, for we are the ones who make these kids great before they ever even get a chance to grow up.

I remember back when Rick Mirer was in the same shoes as Arch Manning. Everybody wanted him to be their school’s quarterback. I mean everybody.

Coaches, fans, professors, cheerleaders, alumni. He was the talk of the recruiting season his senior year in high school.

When Mirer signed to play at Notre Dame, one national college football analyst predicted the Irish would win three of the next four national championship.

As for Mirer, he was given two Heisman trophies. Not bad for a kid who had only visited the campus in South Bend, Indiana, and yet to even practice there.

When Mirer left for the NFL, a college graduate from Notre Dame who had started four seasons and was the No. 2 overall draft pick, he was considered a bust by some of the very same “experts” who proclaimed him the next superstar.

He never even led the Irish to a title game appearance. As for those two Heismans, they went to other folks.

All Mirer got was a free education from a first-class academic university and big money from the NFL. Not bad for a bust, but no titles for Irish fans.

Turns out they didn’t cancel those seasons and give Notre Dame the championships.

Mirer is not the only one to be treated that way. There was Jimmy Clausen and others, both before and after, who got the same attention. So this is nothing new. It just seems bigger these days.

Social media is a big part of that, but so is the new world of college free agency. Two days after Manning proclaimed his love for Texas there were those on the information superhighway ready to ask where he would be transferring to after his freshman season.

Ah, you can’t beat the NCAA transfer portal for breaking news nonsense.

That’s why I’ll let Arch Manning develop at his own pace and watch him not as the next great quarterback but rather more to see how he grows from season to season.

As for Texas being the next college football dynasty, I’ll wait until the Horns win a conference title.

Or at least begin play in the SEC.

That’s when we will find out just how good of a match Manning and Texas really are.

Jim Gazzolo is a freelance writer who covers McNeese State athletics for the American Press. Email him at jimgazzolo@yahoo.com