Johnny Football sure learned his lesson Saturday afternoon.
College football got schooled as well.
What doubts are there that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had some cash funneled to him – above table, under the table, snapped to him between someone else’s legs – for scribbling his name on a bunch of memorabilia in the months since his Heisman coronation?
And what harm was actually done – aside from sidestepping some archaic NCAA rule — by profiting from someone’s own piece of personalized artwork?
Smart 20-year-old college entrepreneur that he is – his Aggie bio lists him as a “sports management” major — what kind of incriminating paper trail did he leave?
None, as far as the sports’ clownish, contradictory governing body was concerned.
But for some other unexplained “inadvertent” violation Manziel apparently committed, Texas A&M (that’s short for Advertising and Marketing) was forced to start the first half of its season opener without his electrifying scrambling ability for the good of the team’s point total.
(Note: A lightning storm Thursday suspended South Carolina’s opener against North Carolina for more than an hour – or longer than Manzeil’s suspension).
Manziel (rhymes with “sell”) apparently signed off on the 30-minute punishment, watching the game with a towel wrapped around neck (perhaps to later autograph and auction off) rather than offer up any sort of legal appeal.
But then, what choice did the sophomoric sophomore have? His best move was to take the hand slap, expose the NCAA again for its farcical ways and draw more support for the plight of the exploited college athlete.
“So the suspension that many around college football felt was just a joke is now history and Johnny Manziel is a college football player again,” said ESPN broadcaster Dave Pasch as the network in charge of promoting the game beyond its rights fees whetted viewers’ appetites for Manzeil’s first appearance, with the Aggies clinging to a 28-21 lead.
The reason it was even that close was because Manziel had company on the sideline of shame – four more A&M players were handed suspensions, in addition to three others, for “violating athletics department rules and regulations.”
Maybe the autographs they’d been signing for their clients were illegible, leading to their ineligibility?
Pasch went on to call Manziel “the most exciting player in college football . . . (and) the most polarizing player in college football.”
The most perplexing story in college football is why Manziel continues to draw so much attention, take so much grief and become so over-scrutinized.
(Yasiel Puig, please take the witness stand).
His uninhibited behavior off the field is what makes him the most effective on the field – as evidenced by his first snap, when scrambled for a first down to the roar of the crowd, many of whom wore his store-bought No. 2 jersey.
It was fully on display when Manziel, responding to autograph taunts from Rice defenders, lost his composure and took a 15-yard penalty in the fourth quarter and the Aggies already up by 24 points.
Take that impulsiveness away Manziel’s character, and you rip out his soul. Assuming the leader of this team, and the face of college football at the moment, even has one.
As ESPN’s Wright Thompson said during a piece he did for the network’s “College GameDay” show: What’s the point of being a famous quarterback if you don’t occasionally act like an idiot?
What’s his major offense? That he’s not Tim Tebow?
(By the way, Manziel ran out on the field with his teammates Saturday before the opening kickoff and proceeded to take a knee in prayer while the cameras were all on him – very Tebow-like, wouldn’t you say?)
College football’s prayers are answered by having someone like Manziel have at least two more years of eligibility, and hopefully three. As long as keeps himself out of any Texas vapor bars for doing something vapid beyond what’s barred by state laws.
How can ESPN not be planning its own reality show – “Making Up with the Manzeils” must be in the works somewhere, right?
“Hey Johnny, can I borrow a Sharpie?” read one sign from the crowd on the Clemson University campus during the “College GameDay” telecast.
You’d think almost that the company which makes those indelible-ink pens that athletes so often use to sign autographs had some product placement there.
But that’s the interesting dichotomy to Manziel’s supposed offense, and the hypocrisy of the NCAA’s punishment, opening everyone up for ridicule – even if Sharpie wasn’t behind that signage, it got more eyes on its company logo without having to pay advertising fees.
Sharpie, whether it knows it or not, probably made a nice chunk of money thanks to Manziel on Saturday without even trying.
That’s a pretty sharp move. And a nice endorsement deal that Manziel might want to look into once his college career has ended, the NCAA is done chasing its tail, and the kid can officially sign autographs on the up-and-up someday.
Before then, can’t Manziel or someone from his well-endowed family legally hire someone with compliance officer experience to make sure he maintains what’s left of his eligibly, and perhaps his dignity, long enough to play a full four quarters against Alabama in two weeks at College Station, Tex.?
Doesn’t the future of college football depend on it?
== With Tebow, Vince Young and Matt Leinart cut by NFL squads on the same weekend, what kind of deals can we get for their autographs on a Heisman-logo balls going forward?
== Shouldn’t the $10 million insurance policy that USC’s Marqise Lee apparently took out to protect his health also include a provision to protect his best interests?
Meaning: If neither Cody Kessler nor Max Wittek can figure out how to find him open across the middle, could Lee’s insurance agent file a claim against Lane Kiffin?
== In regards to anything related to the life and times of Lamar Odom – why do any legitimate news services continue to use reports by TMZ as padding for their stories?