It is probably a matter of when, not if, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel will go bronze, but top A&M administrators said there are no immediate plans for a statue of "Johnny Football" on campus.
Manziel's reign over College Station has come to an end, at least officially. He is no longer on the team or enrolled at A&M -- meaning that the countdown to a decision on whether to immortalize Manziel on campus has begun. Statues of living people are generally given extra consideration because there's still the chance the subject will do something the university won't want permanently remembered.
For example, the university solicited real students to pose as models for the War Hymn statue on the east side of Kyle Field. However, the statue will use their likenesses, not the individual students. The reason is so that A&M administrators don't have to literally "saw" an Aggie out of the middle of the statue if they are guilty of not upholding the Aggie core values 10 or 20 years down the road.
And Manziel is not known to shy away from controversy.
The university has special rules governing where and how to place statues, and those requirements are even more strict if the subject is still alive. The gatekeeper for statue decisions is the Council For Built Environment and, ultimately, the university president.
Officials made an exception for A&M's first, and only other, Heisman winner, John David Crow. His statue is located in the middle of a roundabout outside the Bright Football Complex. The CBE this month approved an eight-foot statue of former President George H.W. Bush that will be placed in a flowerbed in front of the presidential library.
Associate Athletics Director Jason Cook said Thursday that he is not aware of "any current discussions regarding a statue."
The "vision" portion of A&M's KyleField.com website says approximately 16 statues are located on the north end of the stadium where the Reveille monument now stands. The Texas A&M System's official stance is that the renderings by architect Populous are conceptual.
A&M System Spokesman Steve Moore said there are no current plans for statues on the north side of the stadium and that he was not aware of any upcoming discussions.
"There have been no formal discussions about any specific statues at this point," Moore said on Thursday.
There is no uniform way universities handle statues of athletes. The University of Texas has its two Heisman winners, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams, immortalized in bronze outside of Darrell K Royal stadium in Austin. The five Heisman winners at the University of Oklahoma, all of whom except one are still alive, are memorialized at a "Heisman Park" outside of the stadium.
OU spokesman Pete Moris said administrators he talked to didn't remember any controversy regarding memorializing living players. Two of OU's Heisman winners are relatively young -- both Jason White and Sam Bradford won their trophies in the 2000s.
"Whether it's serving as an iconic meeting point for fans or Oklahoma football Saturdays, or as a destination for Sooner fans from across the country, Heisman Park serves as a constant reminder of the high standards and rich tradition of our football program," Moris said in an email.
There's not always a happy ending. Real people make real mistakes.
At Penn State University, the statue of Joe Paterno was removed after allegations that he helped cover up the rape of young boys by one of his assistants. Penn State spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz said the university is indefinitely storing the Paterno statue at an undisclosed location.
The University of Southern California never erected statues of O.J. Simpson or Reggie Bush -- both infamous for their own scandals. USC Spokesman Tim Tessalone said the statues at the university are typically symbolic, rather than honoring individual achievement. He said the university still displays Simpson's Heisman and jersey because his legal troubles came after he left the school. The NCAA mandated that the school remove Bush's jersey and trophy, he said.
Football experts are split on how and when to place a Manziel statue on the Texas A&M campus.
Legendary Texas football writer Dave Campbell said Manziel's on-the-field success likely warrants an honor similar to Crow's. Campbell said Manziel is the best quarterback to every suit up for A&M and that he is among the best to ever play in the Lone Star State, alongside Bobby Layne, Robert Griffin III and Colt McCoy.
"On the football field, he's very hard to defend and got good results," Campbell said. "He has his advocates and his detractors and I think if I were in A&M's shoes I would at least wait a while. I certainly wouldn't wait forever and would consider he is statue-worthy. It depends a little on how much A&M wants to exploit his name."
Yahoo sportswriter Rick Limpert, who covers the SEC said it is way too early to consider a Manziel statue and that even talking about it was premature. He said, however, that Manziel’s performance warranted consideration for such an honor.
“In professional sports, a person like Hank Aaron didn’t get a statue here in Atlanta until a few years ago when the new stadium came in,” Limpert said. “If there’s a statue that comes down the road, maybe after a career is over or you have an entire body of work.”
Former A&M coach Jackie Sherrill said Manziel definitely deserves a statue.
"You don't have a choice," Sherrill said. "If you put one up of John David Crow, you can't separate it and say just because Johnny is not older he has to be a certain age. He won the Heisman Trophy so it's not about age, it's not about anything other than he won the Heisman Trophy. Quite frankly, it's to your advantage when you've won two Heisman trophies to put statues up to show your recruits."