Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has endured a tumultuous offseason after becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy last year.
A number of incidents away from the gridiron, most notably a scandal in which Manziel allegedly profited off of autographs, have brought him under intense scrutiny. According to Billy Liucci of TexAgs.com, Manziel will be suspended for the first half of the season opener against Rice on Saturday:
Latest on Manziel? Per multiple sources, he'll be suspended for first half of season-opener versus Rice on Saturday.— Billy Liucci (@billyliucci) August 28, 2013
ESPN's Brett McMurphy corroborated what Liucci reported:
Manziel 1st half suspension "closes the book" on Manziel/autograph saga. NCAA acknowledges Manziel did not accept money, source said— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) August 28, 2013
Liucci also noted that all signs seem to indicate that Manziel isn't guilty of selling his autograph for money:
As most predicted, all indications are that Manziel was not found guilty of accepting payment for signature. Obviously a significant note— Billy Liucci (@billyliucci) August 28, 2013
That confirms a Monday evening report from ESPN.com's Travis Haney, who stated that Manziel met with the NCAA for six hours and denied such activity.
ESPN.com news services reported Wednesday that the one-half suspension was mutually agreed upon between the Aggies and the NCAA.
McMurphy then cited a source who said Manziel's light suspension seals up the NCAA's investigation on the autograph scandal, as the NCAA has officially acknowledged that Manziel did not accept money:
With the lightning-rod type of attention that Manziel tends to attract, the Twitterverse predictably had plenty to say when news of this development broke.
Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network had some particularly scathing words for the NCAA:
This Manziel 30-minute suspension proves, yet again, the NCAA is a fake tough guy.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) August 28, 2013
ESPN expert Joe Schad elaborated on the precedent this autograph controversy might set for other players entering the 2013 season:
Regardless of Manziel investigation result, high profile players figure to be less likely to sign mass balls/helmets in hotel rooms in 2013— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) August 28, 2013
CBS Sports Radio Network's John Kincade implied that the school and Manziel might be acknowledging some sort of wrongdoing in their agreement to hold Johnny Football out of action:
Should the headline not be - Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M acknowledge guilt in matter?— John Kincade (@JohnKincade) August 28, 2013
Former NFL star Deion Sanders wasn't exactly thrilled with the decision:
Can we investigate the investigators? @DezBryant got suspended a season 4 lying about a dinner that wasnt a violation & Manziel gets a half.— DeionSanders (@DeionSanders) August 28, 2013
Sanders is referring to a meal he had with Dez Bryant that ended up costing the former Oklahoma State star most of the 2009 season.
With regard to the NCAA, the Peyton's Head parody account has already taken care of ripping into the brass involved in investigating Manziel:
"Now Johnny, we want you to sit right here on this bench for 30 minutes and think about what you did, young man!" - The NCAA— Peyton's Head (@PeytonsHead) August 28, 2013
Anthony Lima of 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland provided his own humorous spin on the autographing issue:
Did he only sign his first name? RT @billyliucci: Per multiple sources, Manziel suspended for first half of season-opener versus Rice on Sat— Anthony Lima (@AnthonyLimaFAN) August 28, 2013
Omaha.com's Dirk Chatelain was rightly confused as to what Manziel was suspended for precisely, if not for the alleged autograph signings:
Johnny Football is suspended for a half? For what, Coach? "Uhhhh, well, basically everything since the Cotton Bowl. Just pick something."— Dirk Chatelain (@dirkchatelain) August 28, 2013
B/R's own Lead College Football Writer Adam Kramer provided his take, describing a mock exchange between those involved in the NCAA:
"Another job well done, boys." - the NCAA enforcement official said to his friend, a chair, before his Diet Coke exploded on his shirt— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) August 28, 2013
Chris Huston points out how Manziel is the first returning Heisman winner to be suspended in some regard:
Johnny Manziel is the first returning Heisman winner to be suspended in some way, shape or form..— Chris Huston (@HeismanPundit) August 28, 2013
Matt De Lima of FFToolbox.com expressed similar sentiments to Siciliano’s:
As for Johnny Manziel and his half-game suspension, I once again must say the NCAA is less useful than Congress. Softer than baby feet.— Matt De Lima (@mattkdelima) August 28, 2013
InsideCarolina.com's Dijana Kunovac brought up a fair point, noting that Manziel likely would have sat in the second half against Rice, since the Aggies are heavily favored:
honestly, autograph stuff or not, Johnny Manziel probably would've sat out the 2nd half of the Rice game anyway sooooo....— Dijana Kunovac (@dijana_kunovac) August 28, 2013
John Dell of the Winston-Salem Journal highlighted the upside in terms of interest Manziel generates in the sport of college football when he is on the field. It was a rare and a vague endorsement of the ruling:
Johnny Manziel needs to be on the field - good for the "business side" of college football....— John Dell (@johndellWSJ) August 28, 2013
The general consensus is that Manziel's punishment isn't heavy enough if he is guilty, and there is prominent confusion as to why he was disciplined at all if he hadn't done anything wrong.