As Johnny Manziel starts what will surely be his final season playing football under the strictures of the NCAA, he will do so on the sidelines. For 30 minutes.
Manziel, the Heisman Trophy-winning Texas A&M quarterback, will be suspended for the first half of this season’s first game, Billy Liucci of TexAgs.com reports. So Manziel will sit out the start of Saturday’s game against Rice but will get to take the field for the second half. Notably, that means Manziel will be on the field for the much-anticipated showdown with No. 1 Alabama on September 14, a game that will enrich the two football programs, their two millionaire coaches, the NCAA, CBS, the companies that buy commercials -- basically, everyone except the players themselves.
The NCAA has been investigating Manziel since reports emerged that he had been selling his signature, which would violate the rules of the NCAA’s brand of amateurism. There has been no formal announcement of exactly what that investigation unturned, but the half-game suspension suggests that the NCAA has no proof that Manziel actually sold his signature, but that he also didn’t take any steps to prevent others from selling his signature.
Manziel has made no secret of the fact that he dislikes certain aspects of college life, and that he really dislikes the NCAA. So he’s widely expected to enter the 2014 NFL draft, which will be the first draft he is eligible for. Off-field issues aside, questions remain about whether Manziel is the kind of passer who can run an NFL offense. Manziel can start addressing those questions on the field, beginning with the third quarter on Saturday.