The latest brouhaha surrounding Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel erupted on twitter a few minutes ago, as word started spreading based on a report from ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that the NCAA was investigating the controversial QB for allegedly selling autographs. My first reaction was mild amusement, since I believe he (Manziel) recently lamented his inability to do so in the widely-publicized ESPN piece about his troubles. My second was more nuanced, as I considered just how ridiculous it is that A&M can profit tremendously on selling Manziel's signature -- and expects to in the future, I'm sure -- but he can't earn a dime.
I'm as far from a Manzielite (what I call Manziel's ever-faithful, mostly-Aggie defenders) as it gets. I've actually been called a hater on numerous occasion. Even as such, I can see the base hypocrisy in a rule that keeps to the school and the NCAA all financial benefit of a player's athletic performance, when the player is doing by far the most work. That's not to say that Manziel is justified to break the rule, and if he tries to sell ignorance, I won't buy it. Every athlete in college sports is basically beaten over the head with it, so doing it in open contravention of the rule is either (as I said on twitter) extreme stupidity or extreme arrogance.
Though what the NCAA will do about all this, assuming it's true, is totally unpredictable, the reactions from both sides, the Manzielites and the anti-Manzielians, is not. Those who love Manziel will focus, as I did, on how awful this rule is and how disadvantaged the players are beneath it. Those who hate him (or just don't love him) will say that he broke the rule and should be punished just like everybody else. This is one of those weird situations where both sides are right, but agreement is impossible because being right isn't important. Controlling the story is important, to the exclusion of almost everything else.
We should hear something from Manziel and/or A&M in the next couple of days. Knowing the NCAA, the results of their investigation might come sometime in 2027. At this point, it's extremely premature to speculate (because of how the NCAA works and the possibility that the entire story could be wrong) about his eligibility or what it could mean for A&M. I don't care that much about it, anyway. But it will be a story, no doubt about that. Buckle up.