Johnny Football 1, College Football 0.
Johnny Manziel beat the rap.
In his first real brush with the law — college football law — Texas A&M’s sophomore quarterback beat all comers Wednesday when the investigation over whether he was paid for autographs came to a fortuitous conclusion for the Aggies.
Manziel beat the NCAA cops. He beat ESPN. He beat public perception. He’ll beat Rice.
Don’t that beat all.
I honestly don’t know whether it’s been proven that Manziel was not paid to sign more than 4,000 items for autograph brokers or if there was just no solid proof to “convict” him of it. I do wish the Aggies wouldn’t gloat quite so robustly about his innocence because I don’t believe for a minute ESPN was out to get A&M.
I assumed he’d get a penalty of either no games, six games or 12 games. But now it appears he is half-guilty, whatever that means. And half as in one half of one game against overmatched Rice.
If Manziel did nothing wrong, as A&M claims, why was he punished at all? For general purposes? For being too popular? For the NCAA to save face? What, did he promise NCAA prez Mark Emmert a few autographed footballs?
The minuscule penalty makes no sense at all. Both A&M and the NCAA owe the public more transparency with this decision.
Manziel’s return is good for college football. But it’s an absolute blessing for A&M, which might have drifted out of national relevance had he been docked an entire season and had Kevin Sumlin been forced to use a rookie quarterback in the SEC meat grinder.
I’m guessing the controversy will cost Manziel some Heisman votes, if he has that caliber of a season again. And who knows if this is the last shoe to drop in the drama that is Johnny Manziel 24/7. But his return sure makes the season that much more intriguing.