People are lying, or else Johnny Manziel is a moron.
That’s the situation according to Kirk Herbstreit, who recently spoke out on the Texas A&M quarterback and the current NCAA investigation into his alleged involvement in paid memorabilia signing sessions.
Herbstreit fielded questions regarding Manziel’s situation during an interview on Tuesday, when the ESPN analyst stated his opinion concerning college players willfully taking money for their signature.
Herbstreit’s take on the Johnny Football autograph controversy was noted by Jon Solomon of AL.com:
[The memorabilia allegations are] the most far-fetched story I've ever heard of, or [Manziel]'s the dumbest player to ever play college football...It’s mind-boggling that he would walk into a room with these memorabilia people that he doesn’t even know and be willing to sign things and allegedly be paid.
Herbstreit expressed his hope that the allegations would prove false and that the world will get to see Manziel lead the Aggies against Alabama on Sept. 14 at Kyle Field.
Unlike past Johnny Football controversies, Manziel’s alleged payment for autographs has created a deep and meaningful argument. It isn’t petty bickering about whether or not a kid is allowed to knock back a beer on spring break. This is about ownership of identity and the NCAA’s responsibilities in the lives of the students they're pledged to support.
As a dividing force, the situation and its corresponding argument have opened rifts between fans and members of sports media.
The main ideological divide is founded in one question: Should college athletes be allowed to cash in on their names via memorabilia signing or the sale of merchandise?
The answer differs from journalist to journalist. The loudest voice for change in the current system is ESPN’s college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, who went on a Twitter tear earlier this month concerning the NCAA’s use of players’ names in the search engine results for their online apparel shop.
Bilas wants players to have the rights to their name and signature. Herbstreit, on the other hand, prefers a more subdued amending of NCAA rules.
Herbstreit told reporters he would be fine with players receiving small stipends, as well as the creation of a fund for the royalties from jersey sales to be collected after college. He is against players actively marketing and cashing in while in school.
"A recruit could go visit Auburn and they’d say, 'If you sign autographs, we’ll get you $5,000 a showing,'" Herbstreit said. "Then Alabama will say, 'Only $5,000? We’ll give you $10,000.' It would be crazy...it would be the wild, wild West."
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