In case you haven't heard, the Summer of Johnny ended with a bang yesterday amid reports of an NCAA investigation into whether Heisman winner Johnny Manziel accepted a five-figure sum of money in exchange for signing autographs. While it's important to note that this is strictly a rumor at this point- no one involved has even confirmed that an investigation is actually taking place (It's just an ESPN conspiracy, y'all. Maybe we should have listened to the 'Horns when they compared Aggy to the Barn)- the conversation quickly turned again to the NCAA's alleged exploitation of student-athletes. While I do believe that at some point soon a player will be able to profit from his own likeness without jeopardizing his eligibility (similar to the Olympic model), for now I am more interested in the impact a hypothetical suspension or disqualification of Manziel would have on the SEC West race in 2013.
To say that losing Manziel would be catastrophic for the Aggies this season is a massive understatement. His performance during the 2012 Heisman winning campaign has been well chronicled- over 3700 passing yards, another 1400 rushing, and 47 total TDs. Obviously replacing that type of production would be next to impossible in any case, but the fact that the Aggies' backup QB has thrown all of 11 passes as a collegian further complicates matters. Given the relative lack of depth on the roster and loss of several key players on both sides of the ball, it's difficult to imagine A&M contending for anything without Johnny Football working his magic. If he were disqualified for the entire season, I'm setting the over/under at five total wins for them. Thoughts?
Most importantly to Bama nation, a suspension of Manziel would clearly have a profound effect on the showdown in College Station on September 14. As of this writing, the cheapest tickets on the secondary market are priced in excess of $400 each for that contest. Needless to say, some folks who have already shelled out big dollars would be rather miffed to have to witness the inevitable bloodbath that would take place on that day without Johnny under center. Worse for us, we are already going to be trolled all season about the schedule. Can you imagine if Johnny was suspended for the first few games similar to AJ Green or the Ohio State tattoo group, causing us to miss him while others (read: LSU) have to face him later in the season? This also brings up an interesting question: is it better for us if Johnny plays on September 14 or if he doesn't? There is no disputing that we have the narrative on our side right now- a 13-0 Bama will coast into the BCS Championship game. Removing Manziel from the equation effectively eliminates one of only two marquee contests on our slate. Personally, I want him there and healthy so that our boys can get the vengeance they must certainly want. I'm confident that Saban and crew will be ready for him this time. Sure would be easier without him, though.
No matter what comes of these allegations, this kid needs to find a way to get off my TV unless he's playing football. Seriously, can nobody harness young Johnny and keep him out of the news? Frankly, it's sad to even have to discuss the possibility that we may not get to see a player coming off such a transcendent season due to nonsense that could have been avoided. Will be an interesting few days to say the least.
Have a great week, everyone. Roll Tide.
UPDATE: Decided to go ahead and run this early due to the coverage it's getting. As of now, the Las Vegas Hotel has pulled several A&M games off its board, including the Bama game. May not mean much, but newsworthy.