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The NCAA and Texas A&M have announced Johnny Manziel is only going to miss one half of the Rice game. Thank God.
Vegas seems to think this Manziel kid is pretty good.
Former and current football players are weighing in on the Johnny Football verdict. Do they approve of the suspension?
The Heisman Trophy winner will reportedly be suspended for the first half of the Rice game, a move that doesn't really mean much of anything.
Please go by Johnny Savings! this season, Mr. Manziel.
A six-hour meeting between the NCAA and Johnny Football only led to the QB denying claims of accepting payment for autographs.
The focus of our coaches and student-athletes is solely on preparing for Rice. I have instructed Coach Sumlin, his staff and our student-athletes to refrain from commenting on or answering questions regarding the status of our starting quarterback, Johnny Manziel.
Manziel continues to be the subject of some controversy surrounding autograph signings -- and may or may not be under NCAA investigation -- but at this point it appears the Heisman winner will start against Rice on Saturday.
The autograph saga began with an ESPN report alleging that Manziel had been paid to sign memorabilia. ESPN also reported that the NCAA was investigating the matter, though Manziel's lawyer later refuted that claim, adding that the NCAA had made no formal allegations.
In any case, no concrete proof of rules violations has surfaced in the weeks since the initial report, leaving little reason to believe Manziel's eligibility is in jeopardy. Additional autograph brokers have stepped forward to claim Manziel signed things for them, but some of their evidence appears circumstantial at best.
We know Manziel has the support of Texas A&M's chancellor, among others, and barring any huge developments in the coming days, it's a good bet the quarterback will be on the field Saturday.
A&M's top administrator dismisses the work of the ESPN and former CNBC reporter: "Rovell has been duped before."
Minnesota Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson offered his opinion on the ongoing Johnny Manziel investigation.
An obscure state statute could allow the university to pursue legal action against the autograph brokers that snitched on Johnny Manziel if he ends up losing time.
The former Oklahoma State Cowboy, who was suspended for most of his final season in Stillwater for his interaction with Deion Sanders, attacked the NCAA over its investigation of the Heisman winner and endorses payments to players.
The Heisman Trophy winner is alleged to have done another two autograph sessions, but there's still no evidence that he was paid to do so.
A mostly subjective explanation for why I wanted a hypothetically-guilty Cam Newton to get suspended, but I want a hypothetically-guilty Johnny Manziel to play every game. Share your own feelings with us in the comments.
Is the whole Johnny Manziel autograph investigation even happening? His lawyer says no investigation is underway, and there's no evidence we shouldn't believe him.
Texas A&M and the Manziels are lawyering up in the face of an NCAA investigation.
It seems like the flap surrounding the NCAA online store has caused more than just embarrassment.
Nate Fitch is a friend of Johnny Manziel's dating back to their high school days, and he also serves as the Heisman-winner's personal assistant. He might be the man who set up the autograph sessions for which Manziel was allegedly paid, if what sources told ESPN's Wright Thompson is accurate:
A half dozen sources and counting have said that, among other things, Fitch helped run a Manziel autograph business, setting up signings, handling logistics.
Fitch has been a central figure in Manziel's life for a while now, and as Thompson points out, there is plenty of photographic evidence of that. There's much more to their relationship in the story, which paints the picture of a family wary of Fitch's influence on their son.
Manziel is being investigated by the NCAA for possibly profiting off his signature, though no wrongdoing has been proven at this point. The initial allegation centered around an autograph session that took place in Miami the week of the BCS title game. Since that report, another broker came forward and said Manziel signed some things the night before Texas A&M's game at Alabama, but no money was involved. A third claims he paid Manziel $7,500 for signing memorabilia.
Since the news broke, Manziel and Fitch have been silent. From Thompson's piece:
Nate didn't, and hasn't, responded to text messages. He's gone underground. Everyone inside the Manziel inner circle has been told to keep quiet.
Manziel is not suspended -- he is in camp and practicing with the Aggies -- but he hasn't been made available to the media, and Texas A&M hasn't issued any formal denial of the allegations against the star quarterback. The school has at least made a statement in the sense that it hired a law firm to help handle whatever is to come of the NCAA's inquiry.
Paul Johnson thinks people don't want Georgia Tech player autographs. BUT BOY IS HE WRONG.
One Vegas sportsbook thinks that the hypothetical suspension of Johnny Manziel due to his autograph scandal would turn Texas A&M from one of the top title contenders to a team barely even in the mix for a BCS National Championship.
Sports betting analyst RJ Bell reports that the Las Vegas Hotel's sportsbook would drop the Aggies -- who he says have received the most action to win the national title -- down to 100/1 shots to win the national title. They had opened at Bovada at 10/1, and before being dropped from boards were at 13/2 -- tied for second with Ohio State, and behind only Alabama. With the uncertainty surrounding Manziel, they're at 18/1.
100/1? It's a long way down.
Here's the area of the board we're dealing with:
20. Notre Dame: 50/1
20. UCLA: 50/1
22. TCU: 66/1
22. Wisconsin: 66/1
25. Boise State: 100/1
25. Michigan State: 100/1
25. Oregon State: 100/1
28. Ole Miss: 125/1
28: North Carolina: 125/1
They'd be far from randos in the quest for the national title, but they'd go from legit contenders to longshots. As for their place in the SEC, they'd be sixth in the conference, behind Alabama, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and Florida.
So basically, without Manziel, Texas A&M remains a good football team in Vegas' eyes -- somewhere around the bottom of the top 25 -- but not a team with a real shot at bringing home the crystal football.
Of course, this isn't the only way last year's Heisman winner not playing a down in 2013 would effect lines. Presumably, other teams' chances would get bumped up, and we've already seen lines spring up around Manziel's potential suspension, such as whether Johnny Football will play Week 1 and whether he'll win another Heisman. As noted in that post, Vegas has set Manziel's worth to the Aggies in point spreads at eight points, turning the Aggies from merely 6-point underdogs against Alabama to two full touchdowns.
Some have wondered what motive autograph brokers would have to leak the information that Johnny Manziel took money from a broker in exchange for autographs, an allegation that if proven true could cost him his eligibility for the upcoming college football season. Now, a story from CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman implies that some autograph dealers might hold a grudge against Manziel due to his family's decision to trademark his nickname.
SB Nation has heard a similar story from a source with knowledge of the industry.
When Manziel's family decided to file a trademark on "Johnny Football" -- to prevent others from selling memorabilia with the phrase, and give them the right to do so when he becomes professional -- it made selling "Johnny Football" items illegal. Feldman's story quotes from a memorabilia dealer named Rob Rudolph, who sold several Manziel-related items -- not necessarily autographs -- on eBay, and had added the keyword "Johnny Football" to increase searches to his items.
The online auction site considered this to be a trademark breach, and suspended his account, as well as the account of many other memorabilia dealers. He thinks that might have irked some of those around the industry:
"For me, I'm small time. That was an irritating thing because for two weeks, I couldn't sell anything. I am quite sure for people whose livelihood are this business, that was crippling. If there's anybody who has an ax to grind, pick any of those people."
Rudolph added that he thought Manziel was "dumb" for allowing video or photos to be taken of him at an autograph session, and that "it's kinda funny" watching Manziel get into various off-field trouble this season in the wake of his kerfuffle with the memorabilia industry.
It turns out Johnny Manziel isn't the only college football player to have an autograph series for sale.
SB Nation's Texas A&M blog Good Bull Hunting did some sleuthing, and it turns out that other college football players seem to have participated in the same bulk autograph signing sessions as Manziel is alleged to have. Series of autographs belonging to South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, as well as former Gamecock Marcus Lattimore, turned up when a search was performed on JSA (an autograph authentication company) records. Those series include hundreds of autographed pieces of memorabilia, above and beyond 300 in the case of Clowney.
Naturally, this raised some eyebrows, but South Carolina has found nothing awry:
"We have investigated things that have been on EBay with him and student-athletes before," associate athletics director Chris Rogers said. "In the situations I can say we looked into, there was no further for us to go, and we determined there was no violation."
And Ohio State's Braxton Miller has also been cleared, though it's hard to tell who was asking anyway. Clemson's also seen no issues with stars Sammy Watkins or Tajh Boyd.
Tuesday, USC and Louisville also took precautions against being lumped into the autograph scandal.
USC and Louisville aren't taking chances with Marqise Lee and Teddy Bridgewater: The Trojans released a statement saying Lee has not committed an NCAA violation surrounding autographs, while the Cardinals shooed potential signature seekers away.
Yet another autograph broker has come forward to ESPN, claiming he paid Johnny Manziel $7,500 and has video of the Heisman winner signing memorabilia, according to Joe Schad. This is the third autograph broker who has come forward claiming that he paid Manziel money in exchange for signatures, a matter that the NCAA is now looking into.
The broker allegedly has video of Manziel signing 300 Texas A&M helmets, but did not capture the Heisman Trophy winner taking money or breaking any NCAA rules. Manziel also reportedly declined to make any personalized autographs, claiming that they would arouse suspicion.
This is not the most compelling set of evidence ever put forward. ESPN passed on purchasing it, but still went ahead and told the world about its contents, and there still doesn't seem to be a paper trail. This one note does seem intriguing, however:
On video, which was shopped but not purchased, Johnny Manziel is heard saying "you never did a signing with me" and not to tell anyone.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) August 6, 2013
However, until that video surfaces, Manziel speaks, or someone checks the rims on his car, no one really knows for sure what happened.
This seems fair.
Texas A&M and LSU both had eventful days at practice on Monday. Here's what you need to know from fall camps across the country.
Texas A&M has hired the same law firm to handle the Johnny Manziel matter that handled the Auburn-Cam Newton case, according to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Sports. Manziel is facing an NCAA investigation into an autograph signing session for which he was allegedly paid.
Lightfoot, Franklin and White, a firm based in Birmingham, helped Auburn work through its NCAA troubles when it was discovered that Cam Newton's father, Cecil, had asked Mississippi State for a large sum of money in exchange for his son's services. The NCAA investigation ultimately found no wrongdoing on the parts of Auburn or Cam Newton.
The firm also worked with Michigan when the Wolverines football program faced a handful of major rules infractions in 2010.
The investigation into Manziel's actions at the autograph session in question is ongoing, though there is no concrete evidence that he was paid for signing photos or memorabilia. Manziel was with his team to open camp Monday, though he did not address the media.
An autograph broker approached Johnny Manziel about signing some things before Texas A&M's game against Alabama last season, ESPN's Joe Schad reported Monday, and the broker provided a photo as evidence. The broker says he did not pay Manziel any money for the signatures.
Manziel has gone on record with his account of how that situation occurred. If his version is accurate, the broker essentially forced his way into the hotel room of Manziel and his roommate, putting the eventual Heisman winner in an awkward position.
"Alabama game, a guy walks into my hotel room with me," Manziel said. "I opened the door. I had a big bag on my shoulder. I opened the door real wide -- he kind of sticks his foot in the door. He kind of comes in with me. 'Hey man, will you sign this bag of stuff?'"
"Swope was like, 'Hey, man. What are you doing in here?'" Manziel said. "He said 'Oh, he said he would sign some stuff for me.' I'm like, 'I mean, I didn't really say I would sign it for you. But I'll do it for you. Get the hell out and it won't be too big of a deal.'"
This story was told before the more recent allegations that Manziel accepted payment for an autograph session in Miami during the week of the BCS title game. The report released by ESPN Sunday alleges that Manziel received a five-figure flat fee for signing various photos and memorabilia on that occasion, and although there is no substantive evidence of wrongdoing at this point, the NCAA has launched an investigation.
The incident with the broker during the week of the Texas A&M-Alabama game is entirely unrelated to the January autograph session in Miami and occurred months beforehand; it is not a part of the NCAA's inquiry. Notably, Manziel has complained about signing autographs to several national outlets this year, including Sports Illustrated and ESPN. If this story of the broker in Alabama is true, it's not hard to understand why.
In light of ESPN's (questionable) report that Johnny Manziel received money to sign autographs, it's time to ask the tough questions. Questions like "Why would any normal person want an autograph?" and "These people know smartphones have cameras, right?"
Kevin Sumlin had a regularly scheduled press conference Monday, and had to face the press about Johnny Manziel's reported NCAA investigation. It seems the Aggies head coach is still finding out the facts of his QB's alleged pay-for-autographs scandal.
Johnny Manziel is reportedly under NCAA investigation for an autograph session in Miami the week of the BCS title game; Manziel allegedly received a "five-figure flat fee" for signing photos and memorabilia, though nothing of the sort has been proven.
On Monday, ESPN's Joe Schad reported that a "prominent autograph broker" from the South sent him a photo of Manziel autographing some stuff the night before Texas A&M's road game at Alabama. The broker -- who is not connected to the alleged session in Miami -- claims he was told by Manziel's personal assistant that he'd have to pay for an autograph session, though he says that he did not compensate Manziel. Here's the photo:
Alleged Johnny Manziel autograph "proof picture" broker claims he shot pic.twitter.com/RR7oExSp4o— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) August 5, 2013
And that is indeed Johnny Manziel signing things, but as for the circumstances surrounding it, there's absolutely no telling. The authenticity of the broker's story already has been brought into question by former A&M player Brandon Leone, who believes that photo was taken in a College Station Hilton Hotel. Obviously, if it were taken in College Station, it could not have been the night before the Alabama game.
The Aggies quarterback is not suspended, but if that penalty were to be levied, it would make for significant changes to point spreads, among other things.
Texas A&M is one of several teams to open camp Monday, though most of the talk figures to center on an issue that has nothing to do with football.
Texas A&M is not without its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback just yet, but buckle up for a long ordeal. Ongoing Manziel-NCAA coverage here.
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