ESPN’s Darren Rovell, who has been covering the Johnny Manziel autograph saga since (as he calls it) February, went on Bill King’s ON CAMPUS radio show this morning with more details about what he and ESPN have learned after digging more into the situation.
Rovell claimed that there was “much more” than two paid signings. He also explained how some Texas A&M boosters feel about Manziel and how he has represented the university.
There’s much more than two signings. Again, there’s no money transfer between these brokers and Manziel. Manziel never touched the money. It depends on whether you believe that the amount of circumstantial evidence is enough – is enough for Texas A&M to say “you violated our strict honor code” or is enough for the NCAA to say “did you do these specific things?”
Maybe no one comes forward, and we (the NCAA) don’t have subpoena power, we can’t bring you under oath, but we can talk to Johnny and and say “you know, these are very very specific allegations, did you do these things?” And is it enough for Texas A&M to say “we can’t play him”? Because if so many of these sources are saying the same thing, it becomes the school’s responsibility if they play him.
…I spoke to a Texas A&M booster yesterday, and he claimed “you know, we’re not Alabama, we’re not some of these big programs, we are different people” – who knows what he really means. But what he’s saying is “we have a special honor code, I think we’re different, and this has caused problems for us and we don’t want Johnny to represent us”.
So there is a faction, at least, at Texas A&M that appears to not be willing to ‘do anything’ to keep Johnny. And I think that’s maybe what Paul Manziel was referring to in the Wright Thompson article.
It should be noted that Rovell isn’t claiming that all boosters feel this way, just a “faction”.
Given the lack of hard evidence against Manziel (and the NCAA’s sloth-like tendencies in dealing with these kinds of matters), it’s unlikely that this situation gets resolved any time soon. As Rovell points out, the school will need to weigh the risks of playing Manziel during the season, considering that if he is later found guilty of violating NCAA policy, the program could be subject to vacated wins, scholarship losses and bowl bans. Remember, Ohio State’s recent sanctions were the result of players trading tattoos for autographs.
As for the contingent of Texas A&M boosters wanting Manziel booted from College Station, the news should hardly come as a surprise – there are people in every fan base who value the honor code above all else. But whether the school has enough evidence to even prove that Manziel did violate said code will be interesting to watch moving forward.