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A&M And Sumlin Have A Big Decision To Make Regarding Manziel

two_pathsIf you’re Kevin Sumlin, what do you do?  Your Texas A&M football team is expected to be a national title contender in 2013, but your all-everything quarterback — the guy most responsible for last year’s incredible 11-2 campaign — is reportedly under investigation by the NCAA for allegedly receiving $10,000+ to sign autographs on Aggie memorabilia.

Right now, Sumlin has two options with four possible outcomes.  Each of his options carries a risk.  Assuming Johnny Manziel tells the coach that neither he, his family, nor his high school buddy-turned-manager took money for autographs, A&M’s coach could:

 

*  Play Manziel and risk having to forfeit or vacate wins down the line.

*  Play it safe and keep Manziel on the bench while the NCAA makes its decision.

 

Yesterday, Sumlin said that Manziel will “get as many reps as he was going to get” in fall camp.  In other words, it’s business as usual in College Station until more information is gathered.  But the Aggie coach also said he’ll need to develop a backup quarterback regardless of the Manziel situation.  Currently junior Matt Joeckel is listed as the backup on A&M’s two-deep.

Assuming that Sumlin and the TAMU administration go full speed ahead with Johnny Football, obviously, the Aggies chances for silverware increase.  He might create distractions off the field, but on the field Manziel creates mayhem for opposing defenses.

If Sumlin plays him and the NCAA can’t prove any wrongdoing, that’s a win/win.  Hell, that’s possibly 14 wins.

If Sumlin plays Manziel and the NCAA does drop the hammer on the QB, Texas A&M would probably be forced to vacate or forfeit every game in which Manziel had played.  If a negative verdict comes midseason, A&M would lose their star in the middle of the campaign and be forced to toss away victories.

The school has hired the same Birmingham law firm that aided Auburn during the Cam Newton affair.  That’s a comparison nearly everyone is making.  But the Newton situation differs from Manziel’s in two ways.  First, the Newton story went public late in the season with Auburn racing toward eventual SEC and BCS titles and Newton himself was headed for the Heisman.  Second, the loophole that allowed the NCAA to look the other way has since been closed in the rule book.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but it’s hard to look at the facts of the Newton case and not come to the conclusion that the SEC and the NCAA — in an attempt to avoid a hugely embarrassing scenario — simply gave Newton the green light in a rushed attempt to kill the story.  On the heels of the Reggie Bush affair, the powers-that-be in college football didn’t want Auburn and Newton to grab every trophy in the land only to have to give it all back a couple of months later.

In the SEC’s case, there was literally a rule on the books stating that no player (nor anyone in his family) could solicit money for the player’s services.  No one ever denied that Newton’s father solicited money.  He did.  His son — according to SEC rules — should have outlawed.  But the league decided that Newton’s father hadn’t agreed to take the money, which is quite absurd.  Soliciting money implies that you’ll take it when they hand it to you, no?

The point being, if Newton’s issues had gone public in August as Manziel’s have, I’m not sure the SEC and NCAA would have been so quick to say, “He’s good; let him play.”

The other option for Sumlin is to bench his star for safety’s sake and hope that he’s cleared at some point during the season.  Best-case scenario: Texas A&M wins without their Heisman hero, Manziel is eventually cleared, and the Aggies roll on to championships.

The worst-case scenario is one that would probably haunt Sumlin, the A&M administration and Aggie fans for a long, long time: the school holds Manziel out, the Aggies stumble to a disappointing season, and then the NCAA rules late in the year or afterward that Manziel was all clear.

So should Sumlin take the risk or play it safe?  If the coach plays it as his quarterback would, we already know which option he’ll choose.

 


10 comments
Speedy98
Speedy98

The thing I find so odd about this is how all of these brokers are so willing to talk to ESPN, yet they are unwilling to talk to the NCAA. 

If you are not going to talk to, or give evidence to the governing body that can do something about the violation, why bring it up in the first place?

Or do I need to take my tin foil hat off?

BonzaiB
BonzaiB like.author.displayName 1 Like

Well, it is beginning to look more and more like Manziel is probably guilty of some of this, if not all. Even if the NCAA has trouble proving it (and I really do not think they will have much of a problem doing just that), there is too much smoke here. Video recordings, whether admissible in court or not, clearly show JM signing lots of identical items for a single person. That's a huge red flag right there, and the NCAA knows, whether it can prove it right away or not, that the guy did it. And the number of "brokers" he did it with seems to be more than two. Brokers are, for lack of a better descriptor, low rent (not major league low rent dwellers, but low rent non the less). If one tried to sell some info to a network, the others are seriously thinking about it. There are now two videos out there, which means JM was stupid. Some of you are going to say, "You can't prove that!", but the reality is we know he was doing it and so does the NCAA. Knowing and proving are two different things, but once you KNOW, and you have the resources of the NCAA, it will not be long before this is done and done.

I suspect that with the speed with which this is developing that more than one of these "brokers" are looking for ways to cash in before one of the others beats them to it. Sumlin and A&M will know sooner rather than later if JM is most likely guilty and is a high risk for being convicted as guilty by the NCAA. The ruling may take more than a couple of months, but Sumlin and Co will know within a week or so, if not already, if their boy is toast.

Fan of the Aggies, have been for a while, but Manziel, I think, was not only stupid enough to risk his career for a few pennies, but he was arrogant in thinking he was bullet proof. Hope I am wrong, really do, but I think we do not have to worry about Manziel repeating as the Heisman winner.

badbadhoggie
badbadhoggie

When this young man "Crashes and Burns" it will be a sight not seen in many years!

tbear57
tbear57

If you come to a fork in the road, take it. As of now no fork exists. Full speed ahead with JFF at the controls. If and when the facts become clear, take the fork. Adjust course. It's the same scenario all teams face when a selfish player (Ryan Braun, Payrod, Nellie Cruz) violates the rules for personal gain. At this moment no wrong has been commited. Sumlin should have that next talk and look his Heisman winner in the eye. He couldn't be where he is if he is not able to tell if a twenty year old is telling him the truth or not.  

WillieT
WillieT

First, let me state that I enjoy watching Johnny play football. He's an electrifying athlete. However, the fact that MrSEC has dedicated an entire headline section to "Johnny Football" just shows how the media loves a story.

Sumlin has thus far failed to "reign in" Johnny. Sumlin's meteoric rise in coaching has placed him in a high profile, high pressure situation where the expectation for on field success outweighs good sense. My guess is that the university & their lawyers are weighing the evidence against Mr. Manziel and trying to ascertain the degree to which his eligibility will be impacted. 

Assuming his friend/"manager" took $10k on his behalf, would the NCAA agree to a 2-game suspension & repaying the 10k (or donating it to charity) along with perhaps some community service? Or is there sufficient evidence for the NCAA to go for the jugular and end his college career altogether?

A 2-game suspension brings Johnny Football back in time for the big bash with Bama and the Aggies can probably handle Rice & Sam Houston without the Heisman winner.


MoKelly1
MoKelly1

No question what I would do --- innocent until proven guilty. Not letting him play based on an allegation is just plain wrong and eliminates all due process.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@MoKelly1 

You've missed the point.  This isn't about punishing Manziel.  It's about protecting a football program.  Coaches and schools sit players all the time when NCAA investigations are under way.

Thanks for reading the site,

John

MoKelly1
MoKelly1

I don't see how benching the team's top player and reining Heisman Trophy winner (and someone who the article says could contribute to a 14 win season) based on unproven allegations can even remotely be thought of as protecting the football program. It hurts the football program to bench your best player for unproven allegations. It's unfair to all the other player on the team. It's still a no brainer for me to play the guy.

Thanks for producing the site.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@MoKelly1

Not trying to argue, but schools sit players who are being eyed by the NCAA all the time... to protect themselves from having to vacate/forfeit wins IF the player is found to be ineligible for some reason.

If Manziel swears up and down that there's nothing to this, A&M might play him anyway.  And if the NCAA hurries things up -- not always a specialty of that group -- and gives A&M an idea that Manziel will be cleared, the school might play him.

But if it's 50/50 and no verdict is in by Game #1 and A&M plays him... there's a chance he could be ruled ineligible down the pike and any wins the Aggies pick up with him on the field would definitely be ix-nayed after the fact.

Thus the two options we wrote about.


Here is a handful of examples of previous eligibility battles... in some players were held out as a precaution, in others schools were docked wins for playing ineligible athletes:  

http://dubhub.blogs.starnewsonline.com/18522/hoops-m-uncw-commit-ogbodo-misses-opener-due-to-eligibility-question/

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/05/sports/la-sp-renardo-sidney-20100306

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3958292

http://www.ncaa.com/news/football/2011-03-11/arkansas-state-must-forfeit-wins


And here's one from 1978:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=888&dat=19780524&id=bgMMAAAAIBAJ&sjid=JVoDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6483,242899


Thanks for reading the site,

John

HoustonVol
HoustonVol

I think that the NCAA and SEC will push to have a picture of where this is heading before the season starts. Not necessarily a firm ruling, but saying the tea leaves point to this unless something more is turned up. Since none of the autograph wranglers will return the NCAA's calls, the only option is to look at JM, his parents', and "manager's" bank statements to make sure that there are no unexplained large deposits. If JM took money and deposited it into his personal bank account, then he deserves any ruling handed his way. The family has already set up a company to manage JM football affairs. It was mentioned in the ESPN articles. There is nothing wrong, as I know of, for a autograph handler to pay a company for JM to sign items as long as JM is not profiting from the deal. It is another grey area that is being exposed in "amateur" sports, just like the Newton ignorance case.

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