Column: Manziel burning through goodwill just as fast as he torched defenders on field

  • Article by: JIM LITKE , AP Sports Columnist
  • Updated: August 7, 2013 - 7:46 AM
hide

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel poses with the Heisman Trophy after becoming the first freshman to win the award, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, in New York.

Photo: Henny Ray Abrams, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Remember those commercials that ran nonstop during the Final Four last spring, the ones in which the voice-over concluded, "There are over 400,000 NCAA student-athletes — and just about all of us will be going pro in something other than sports"?

Well, here's hoping that Johnny Football beats the odds and makes it to the NFL someday. Because the kid is hopelessly amateurish at just about everything else.

The latest suggestion that college football's new "it-boy" was in over his head arrived via ESPN, with reports Johnny Manziel was essentially shaking down memorabilia dealers, swapping autographs for cash in clear violation of NCAA rules. No matter.

Considering how weak the NCAA is at the moment, and how well lawyered-up Texas A&M is already, the chances that an investigation will result in any meaningful punishment for player or school is practically nil. The Aggies hired the same firm — Lightfoot, Franklin and White, from Birmingham, Ala. — that got Panthers quarterback Cam Newton off the hook when pay-for-play allegations surfaced during his brief stay at Auburn. And who knows, those same lawyers might have put Newton in touch with Manziel for the few counseling sessions that Newton confirmed Tuesday, but declined to discuss in detail.

About all Newton would say, beyond the fact that the two talked several times, is that he hopes "that everything works out in the best for him so he can get back to what he likes to do and that's playing football."

Apparently, though, that's not the only thing Manziel likes to do. He also enjoys sharing photographs of himself mocking other rules, whether it's flashing a fistful of bills fanned out, or waving a bottle of champagne in a nightclub, even though Manziel is just 20 years old. When those pranks and others Manziel staged during an eventful offseason were raised at SEC media days last month, he said he'd learned his lesson:

"Of course, I've made my mistakes. It's time to grow up."

Don't bet on it.

He'll likely survive this latest scrape, in part because the NCAA enforcement staff has been decimated in the wake of its bungled investigation at the University of Miami, and a new, less strict penalty structure the organization rolled out barely a week ago. That much seemed apparent by how breezily Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin deflected questions about his quarterback's future.

"There's not a whole lot I can say about that," Sumlin replied, which he repeated in one form or another to every question about Manziel, including whether he ever asked the Heisman Trophy winner whether he accepted payment for autographs.

"We got a game Aug. 31," Sumlin said sternly. "My job is to get this football team ready to play."

For those counting, that's three-plus weeks. Forget about the mornings for the first of those weeks, since his "student-athletes" will actually be bogged down with classes. Ditto for the weightlifting sessions, when they're out of breath, and the film sessions, when they're too busy taking notes.

But would it be too much, if during a training-table meal one evening, Sumlin simply leaned across the table and instead of saying "Pass the salt, please," he asked Manziel, "Did you get paid for those autographs?"

Apparently so, since much like the Newton investigation, we're going to be told that game preparation is so important, there just isn't time for detours into complicated matters that have nothing to do with football.

Yet there's no mistaking where kids got the idea that getting along meant going along. Once their universities and conferences got tangled up in more conflicts-of-interest than they could keep track of — TV contracts, sponsorship deals and the like — they became decidedly less interested in each other's faux pas than ever.

The guys in charge might pretend to be pained, but nobody gets too worked up about amateur stuff like eligibility any more, least of all the kids on whose backs the empire rests. They, too, can see college football for what it's become: the NFL's de facto minor league. It's great to have rowers, field hockey players and cheerleaders who will become engineers, accountants and marketing reps in the future.

They make for good commercials, and a good front for a non-profit like the NCAA, but they don't make any money. They're the farthest thing, in truth, regarding what college sports is really about.

Instead, it's about kids like Manziel — and Newton and Terrelle Pryor, too — and keeping their sense of entitlement in check long enough to make a few dollars off their talent before they get theirs. If nothing else, Manziel already looks like one of those guys who's going to make the higher-ups earn every penny — plus more than their fair share of heartburn in the bargain.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Columbus 3 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close