A one-half suspension for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is the most cynical thing since Caligula made his horse a consul, or at least since Cam Newton was allowed to play college football after his father Cecil shopped his services.
The suspension is nothing short of sneering in the face of college football fans.
It puts to a final death the myth of amateurism.
It makes clear that the NCAA will protect its revenue streams. At all costs.
Even at the cost of its integrity.
Despite the excellent reporting from ESPN and Darren Rovell on this explosive story, Texas A&M played the traditional SEC game of denial.
Despite damning reports that showed how Johnny Football signed thousands and thousands of autographs for dealers at least six times, Texas A&M’s chancellor had the audacity to say in a joint statement from A&M and the NCAA, “I am proud of the way both Coach Sumlin and Johnny handled this situation, with integrity and honesty. We all take the Aggie Code of Honor very seriously and there is no evidence that either the university or Johnny violated that code.”
Proud of the way Coach Sumlin and Johnny handled this?
Proud of the integrity and honesty?
If Johnny did everything in such a positive way, why the one-half suspension?
This is perhaps the most disturbing element of the story. At least, the Cam Newton situation had Auburn denying anything wrong happened at all. While we can doubt the truth of Auburn’s defense, we cannot question the logical integrity of its position. (Really, nobody outside of Auburn believes that Cam did not know he was being shopped or that Auburn was the only school not to get an offer to buy Cam from Cecil.) In the Cam Newton situation, fans could at least cling to the hope that the NCAA and Auburn did the right thing.
However, in this Texas A&M mess, fans no longer have that luxury thanks to the stupid one-half game suspension.
Camus was right—college football is absurd. This one-half game suspension is a cynical attempt by the NCAA, Texas A&M and the SEC to appear like they care and all while doing nothing.
They have their cake and they are going to eat it too. The NCAA, Texas A&M and the SEC are going to make sure Johnny Football continues to produce dollars for the institution, for the conference and still try to act like they give a damn about amateurism.
Only this time, nobody believes the NCAA and its member institutions care about anything other than dollars. With so many scandals, the SEC has become the new scofflaws in the eyes of college football fans around the country. For every SEC team that does it the right way, you can name two or three schools that do it the wrong way. This national perception of the SEC will only get worse unless the SEC polices itself.
That appears unlikely as the relentless college football arms race continues.
With teams needing more and more revenue to compete in the SEC, you can bet the institutions and the conference have no reason to jeopardize the flow of money. After all, endless money forms the sinews of war and has made the SEC the undisputed king of college football in the BCS era.
With a toothless NCAA and the love of money at an all-time high in college football, you can count on only one thing—Money is all that matters and it will be protected at all costs.