If you ask the NCAA, they don't profit off the names and likenesses of college football or college basketball players. It's a nice fantasy, but that's what it is: a fantasy. ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas exposed the NCAA's hypocrisy yesterday by pointing out how searching for Johnny Manziel or any player's name will magically produce that player's jersey in the NCAA online store. It caused such a stir that the search function was disabled -- even though a small bit of url handiwork could provide the same results.
This is not a positive development for the NCAA's defense in the O'Bannon case, as they've been claiming that the merchandise sold does not represent the actual players who wear it during games. That's a tough claim to make when the organization's online store spits out the right jerseys when you search for the player's name. It's true that the web store is copyrighted by a third party, but with the NCAA's name and logo splashed all over it, that may not be a strong enough defense to hide behind.
Matching player names with jerseys in the online shop goes beyond just the big stars, as our Texas A&M blog Good Bull Hunting found searching for "Boyd" will return a match for every player with the last name Boyd, not just Clemson star Tajh Boyd.
This isn't the first time mistakes have played right into the hands of the O'Bannon attorneys. Both the NCAA and EA Sports claim that they don't model players in the NCAA Football video game series after real players, but that claim is plainly untrue when you actually look at the players' attributes in the game. An SB Nation reader even found Tim Tebow's name used in a play call in NCAA Football 10, which would clearly refute EA and the NCAA's claims.
The O'Bannon attorneys may just need a little more time and the NCAA might hand the case over to them on their own.