Everyone at Georgia remembers the saga of A.J. Green, and the ramifications that came from it. Green told me at 2010 SEC Media Days that he had "never even been to Miami" – seemingly squashing out the notion that he had done something wrong.
But as it turned out a trip to Miami had nothing to do with what Green had done wrong. The NCAA took the ball and ran with it… two months later Green was back on the football field, and Georgia was sitting at 1-3… the season all but over.
As incompetent as the NCAA's enforcement arm is – and it is abnormally incompetent these days – you still don't want the sport's governing body anywhere near your campus. The fact that Texas A&M has retained Lightfoot, Franklin and White (the same firm that represented Auburn's Cam Newton in 2010) is noted, but doesn't change the fact that Manziel has every media gun in the nation pointed at him.
A&M's athletic director, Eric Hyman, just went through an investigation at South Carolina that led the to Gamecocks being put on probation for a slew of things that added up to $59,000 in impermissible benefits. So my faith that Hyman will rescue Mr. Football and the Aggies is low.
Johnny Football is alleged to have profited no less than $10,000, and everyone is out to get him – not unlike another hotshot SEC quarterback from the recent past – Cam Newton. But the situation of the two is not the same.
Newton was a one-year wonder in the SEC – no one thought he would take the Tigers to the promise land. No one worried about what he had done before arriving at Auburn - other than watching out for falling laptops from dorm rooms (in Larry Munson voice: Look at the laptops falling from the sky! Look at the laptops falling from the sky!). No one worried about he was doing after that four-month run in 2010 - unless you, for some bizarre reason are a fan of the Carolina Panthers... which is another problem for another day.
Everyone just assumed Newton had been paid and that he would get caught, and that the entire mess would be cleaned up... but that didn't happen, and that's where Georgia partisans started getting furious at the NCAA... A.J. Green was suspended for four games, but Cam Newton none?
That made no sense - but the NCAA doesn't have to make sense.
Still, those in the press, former coaches and the autograph market only had about a two-month window to "bring down" Newton. Manziel has been celebrating his celebrity since before the win over Alabama in November of last season – showing up all over the place and being escorted out of only a few of those places.
I don't know what Manziel has or has not done of the last two years… I'm not sure how much I really care. But having been around the back end of college football for some time now I am more apt to believe a player is guilty rather than innocent of reported mishaps.
But the NCAA doesn't have the same sort of burden I have. They don't have to think it; they have to prove it (they do, right?). I'm not sure they will be able to prove anything with Mr. Football, and if they don't people will be pissed – particularly those in red and black.