Silence on Johnny Manziel Front Suggests Lingering Questions About Eligibility
No news is often good news, but in the case of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's eligibility, silence is likely not golden.
The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner's eligibility is very much up in the air after three separate memorabilia brokers have accused Manziel and his representatives of either taking money or requesting money for autograph signings, according to ESPN.com's Joe Schad, Darren Rovell and Justine Gubar.
Other star players didn't get stuck in eligibility limbo like Manziel.
Since news of the potential violations broke, South Carolina has responded by saying no such violations occurred with autograph issues pertaining to defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. USC did the same with wide receiver Marqise Lee, Ohio State with quarterback Braxton Miller and Louisville with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
But in College Station, the silence has been deafening.
Lingering questions about Manziel's involvement have created a sense of uncertainty, and A&M essentially going radio silent—which is part of the NCAA's process—indicates that there's serious concern about whether Manziel violated NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199.
If there's "nothing there," what's the delay?
Sure, Manziel's lawyers expect him to play in the season opener versus Rice on Aug. 31, according to USA Today. But lawyers backing their client isn't exactly the most shocking development in legal history.
A&M has to tread lightly here, but must do so in a hurry because the season is rapidly approaching.
Manziel took all of the first-team snaps during the first week of fall camp, according to Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News. But if this drags on any longer, head coach Kevin Sumlin will have to give some first-team snaps to backups Matt Joeckel, Matt Davis and Kenny Hill.
The quality of the opponent doesn't matter. A team has to have confidence in its quarterback and—perhaps more importantly—the quarterback has to have confidence in himself.
Is this the week Sumlin starts getting Plan B prepared under center?
It almost has to be.
Deciding on that player this week would allow him to get first-team work next week before getting into game-preparation mode the following week leading up to the opener. If Joeckel is the guy, it also would allow the appropriate amount of time to tweak the offense to fit his more traditional skills.
A&M is absolutely doing the right thing by dotting its I's and crossing its T's, but the Aggies don't have the luxury of time.
Will Johnny Manziel play for Texas A&M in 2013?
A&M doesn't want this headache. It wants this to go away, one way or another.
The lack of a public clearance indicates that there is still legitimate concern in the A&M camp about Manziel's eligibility, even if the program privately feels that the NCAA winds are blowing in its favor.
The rubber starts to hit the road this week, and Texas A&M's actions—particularly the action it takes this week with the personnel at quarterback—will speak volumes as to which path the university expects this story to take.
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