Should Texas A&M Begin Preparing for Life Without Johnny Manziel in 2013?

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterAugust 5, 2013

Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel (right) with head coach Kevin Sumlin
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel (right) with head coach Kevin SumlinScott Halleran/Getty Images

The Summer of Manziel isn't done quite yet, and it appears that the juiciest of events could jeopardize his eligibility.

ESPN's Outside the Lines reported on Sunday that the NCAA is investigating the 2012 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback of the Texas A&M Aggies for allegedly signing autographs during the week of the BCS National Championship Game in Miami for a five-figure flat fee.

Three people told ESPN that they saw Johnny Manziel signing items in the crowded apartment of autograph broker Drew Tieman, but nobody could say for certain whether money changed hands.

So the Summer of Manziel has transformed into the August of Tumult for Aggie fans, because until this is resolved, his status with the team will be very much in question.

With only a month to go before the start of the college football season, Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin is now forced to prepare for a national title run either with his superstar quarterback or without him.

That's not an easy thing to do.

Sumlin successfully transformed his offense from the air raid, sling-it-around-the-field style that made him successful with Case Keenum at Houston to what we saw last season—an offense that is multi-dimensional and thrives with a dual-threat quarterback.

Sumlin is going to prepare to win with Manziel, but he will have to keep backups Matt Joeckel, Matt Davis and Kenny Hill as ready as possible. Those backups always need to be ready to play. But instead of being ready for a spot start here and there or a couple of quarters after the starters go down, they now need to be ready to start multiple games or an entire season.

Luckily for Sumlin, A&M does have the luxury of time.

Davis and Hill are dual threats like Manziel, but Joeckel, who completed five of 11 passes for 42 yards last season, is more of a traditional dropback passer. Since Joeckel is the primary backup right now, A&M could be working on two entirely different variations of the offense depending on who's getting first-team snaps at quarterback during fall camp.

Facing Rice and Sam Houston State to open the season, Sumlin will also have the luxury of trial and error in the first two games as he prepares for the Aggies' Week 3 showdown with Alabama.

It's absolutely ridiculous that Manziel—or any college athlete—can't profit off his own autograph. But if Manziel chose to do it anyway while aware that it's against NCAA rules, that's arrogant or dumb. Or both.

This isn't some obscure NCAA rule that is buried on page 429 of the NCAA rule book. This is common knowledge.

Remember A.J. Green?

The NCAA forced the former Georgia wide receiver to sit four games for selling his 2009 Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000 to former North Carolina defensive back Chris Hawkins.

That was one jersey and one grand, not a five-figure financial arrangement where hundreds of items were signed. Sure, asking for consistency from the NCAA is about as useful as asking to win the Powerball lottery, but there is precedent.

It's going to be an interesting month in College Station, where the coaching staff now has to prepare for a title run in which it may or may not have its star quarterback. If the NCAA can determine that money changed hands and Manziel was paid to sign hundreds of items in sequential order during his two days in South Florida, he will be out for a significant period of time.

That'd be a shame, because he's an absolute joy to watch. But he'd only have himself to blame.