Having made a statement to the NCAA, Johnny Manziel must prove to be a man of his word. Photo: USA Today Sports
Texas A&M's Heisman Trophy winning quarterback is either extremely confident or extremely daring. According to a report by ESPN's Travis Haney, Johnny Manziel spent a portion of Sunday talking to the NCAA and answering questions about his alleged acceptance of money in exchange for autographs. Manziel denied any accepted payments to the NCAA according to the ESPN report, as well as CBS Sports.
Manziel had been accused of accepting sums of money in exchange for autographs, which of course is against NCAA rules. Throughout this off-field drama, Manziel and Texas A&M have largely been quiet on the issue, allowing everything to play out rather than make any rushed decisions or take any misguided actions. According to Haney, it is unclear if the NCAA is satisfied with Manziel's testimony or not, but it is presumed the NCAA is attempting to come to a resolution on this case quickly with the season opening up this weekend. Texas A&M hosts Rice on Saturday.
If the NCAA is satisfied with the testimony offered by Manziel, and there is a lack of evidence to contradict his statements, then the NCAA should be able to close this investigation shortly. There appears to be a lack of cooperation form brokers who may have leaked the information in he first place, which is extra confusing, and without any concrete evidence or witnesses willing to cooperate with the investigation (remember, there is no subpoena power in an NCAA investigation) it would appear the NCAA has little choice but to clear Manziel as an eligible player for the upcoming season. Given the shortcomings in previous NCAA investigations, this would not be a shock at all.
However, here is a very fine line that may have been crossed by Manziel in this process. With his statement now on the record with the NCAA, if anything relating to this particular investigation proves to be untruthful according to evidence discovered by the NCAA, Manziel's status will take a quick 180 degree turn. Perhaps worst for Texas A&M, if the evidence contradicts Manziel's statements and he has already played on the field, the Aggies would be in position to have to vacate any and all victories he may have played a part in.
What Kevin Sumlin knows will be crucial. There is no reason to suspect Sumlin is aware of whether or not Manziel did violate any NCAA rules, but he must be certain that Manziel's eligibility will be intact if he is to move forward on what could be a BCS-caliber season. Sumlin should have enough talent to get by the first two weeks with or without Manziel, but the Alabama game looms large of course. If Texas A&M were to jump out to a 3-0 start only to have Manziel's eligibility later revoked by the NCAA, it would be deflating on so many levels for a program heading in a positive direction.
The NCAA does not take kindly to liars. Just ask former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel. For everybody's sake, let's hope Manziel's statements can be trusted and that he is not on the wrong side of the line he has now drawn with the NCAA.