It was reported earlier this week that the NCAA met with Johnny Manziel and his attorney on Sunday for approximately six hours. The details of the lengthy meeting are sparse on content but common sense would tell us most of the discussion was about just whether or not Manziel was paid for signing autographs.
Coming up this weekend, Manziel’s Aggies are scheduled to take the field against Rice. At the time of this writing, it is unclear whether or not he will play. Head Coach Kevin Sumlin has said repeatedly that he isn’t discussing the matter.
At risk for the Aggies is that they could play Manziel in each game knowing that if the NCAA finds him guilty of accepting money that any game he were to have participated in would be forfeited. With the Aggies scheduled to host #1 Alabama in the third game of the season, his presence on the field will have a tremendous impact on a great many things.
The game for Bama is a revenge game. Manziel and the Aggies gave them their only loss last year and it came in Tuscaloosa. It could also be a game that determines the SEC West division, who plays in the SEC Title game and potentially it could affect the BCS. Oh, and can you imagine the ratings drop if he doesn’t play against Alabama? CBS is probably begging the NCAA to end this investigation immediately for fear of losing the ratings’ bonanza.
Manziel has acknowledged that he signed as many as 5,000 items for numerous brokers but also claims he never received a dime for the duty. Common sense would ask why would anyone do such a thing and not get payment for it. Maybe Manziel is just a swell guy and did it out of the goodness of his heart. Well, it’s possible isn’t it?
I thought Mike Greenberg of ‘Mike and Mike in the Morning’ made an excellent point yesterday. He said the NCAA is used to dealing with kids who come from very little and have even less. They certainly don’t have money for lawyers to help themselves prove their cases. Manziel is different however.
He comes from a wealthy family backed by oil money. Getting a lawyer, and not just any lawyer, is easily within their budget. How will the NCAA, who has botched several recent cases, handle a player with a Heisman Trophy behind him and top lawyers in front of him? The NCAA will tell you publicly that this situation won’t bother them at all but behind closed doors it has to be complicating things.
Remember, right now it’s the word of Manziel versus the word of some brokers. He claims he took no money and they claim he did. If it were cash which is what it is believed to have been, it will be difficult to track those payments.
As is usually the case with the NCAA and their rule book of total ridiculousness, the Aggies should be able to play Manziel without penalty until the investigation is over but that isn’t the case. Once again, the NCAA punishes clean players and their teams instead of waiting for an investigation to run its’ course.
My guess at this time is that Manziel will play on Saturday. The evidence as we know it is thin and the Aggies will take the risk. Should they decide to sit Manziel, junior Matt Joeckel or Freshman Kenny Hill will start against the Owls. Joeckel is a more of a traditional pocket passer while Hill is a dual-threat guy more in the mold of Manziel.
Unless the NCAA has something much bigger than the general public or even the media knows about then I expect Manziel to be on the field Saturday.