Darren Rovell joined Paul Finebaum this afternoon to discuss Johnny Manziel's first half suspension against Rice, which Finebaum believes was a face saving gesture by A&M. I think it is debatable whether or not this was a face saving move by the NCAA. They basically are saying that they think he violated rule NCAA rule 188.8.131.52, meaning that he did sign autographs, and knew they would be sold for a profit, and did not take steps to stop it.
Rovell jumped right in to back up the claims made across the last few weeks:
We are confident that he signed 4400 autographs for three different brokers in three different states...If he did sign 4400 autographs for 3 different brokers over the course of a month, that would be the most autographs ever signed by any athlete for free.
He is been saying this over and over for the last month, so this was of no surprise. Finebaum asked him why this investigation wen't so quickly. All Aggies were worried about this not being over before the season started. Regardless of what the suspension is, I am glad we are at least past it. Here was Rovell's answer on the time it took to complete the investigation
Why did this investigation take a short period of time compared to other investigations... If we do believe that this is indicative of the NCAA not having subpoena powers. and not having the ability to conduct a good investigation what is NCAA anymore In ten years, if it's the wild wild west anyways, why do we need the NCAA for anything besides the men's basketball tournament.
If people think it's indicative of that, then what is the NCAA anymore?
That is obviously what we have been heading for. There wasn't a suspension that the NCAA could throw out that would make them look good in this. If they gave Johnny a long suspension, people would think they were abusing their power without evidence. If they gave him a short-suspension, they are too weak. ESPN obviously is ready for a change in the NCAA's presence in college athletics.
We don't know how many people they (NCAA) talk to, if they started to get to those guys (brokers) in the beginning/middle of June, then this doesn't follow a normal investigation ... You have to think the people at Texas A&M are worried for their jobs, if they make the wrong call, and the NCAA does have evidence and they are working two opposing ways here, their jobs are on the line. What was the deal make here? Did the NCAA tell Texas A&M what they had, and then Texas A&M did something...
He actually makes a good point here. Did they work together before issuing a punishment? We know the NCAA interviewed Johnny on Sunday, but we don't know the extent of the communication between the NCAA and Texas A&M. If they did work together it could paint an ugly picture for the ability of the NCAA to govern effectively.
Next up was addressing John Sharp calling out Rovell in his newsletter, and his being put into the center of this story. We all know Rovell put himself in the line of fire by interacting with people, but here was his take:
I didn't think he came off well when he (John Sharp) said he didn't talk to Manziel, but that he knew he was innocent. No matter what he says after that I don't think anyone outside of Texas A&M can take him seriously. What was weird about this story because of twitter and message boards ... is how you become part of the story and how people think you have an agenda. I have nothing against Texas A&M, I have nothing against Johnny Manziel, i'm not disappointed now ... The message boards and the twitterverse generate false stories to keep things alive.
Stories like there's an affidavit that a broker was paid to lie to me, or that the investigation was closed on Friday. Stories according to a guy with 62 followers, that's the world we live in. It didn't really affect me that much. This is how it works. You accept that responsibility as part of your job.
Many fans can't hate Johnny, so they point their anger towards something else. They always come up with some conspiracy theory to comfort them.
It obviously did, because instead of just settling on the statement "we are confident in our reporting" he chose do address fans repeatedly over the last month. He was out there reading these statements about an affidavit, and @oldarmy1's statement about the NCAA dropping it on Friday. He could have said "I'm confident in our reporting, in our sources, and will not address this until the investigation is over," we could have respected that. Instead he got up everyday and took the mob on. He created the whirlwind around him by using 20% of his tweets to talk about Texas A&M.
Finebaum also compared Manziel to OJ by pointing to the fact that just because the NCAA didn't find him guilty, it doesn't mean he didn't do it. That took my mind immediately to the TAILGATE photo from today, but I digress:
Finebaum asking - Do you think this is the end of the investigation?
It depends on if anyone comes forward. I have no idea what we should decide is the statute of limitations. From our source.. some of these meetings had as many as 15 people in the room... Maybe evidence isn't there, or will never come, but I don't think we are closed here. We don't know what the possibility is that someone came forward, or were kept quiet because of terms they had with the NCAA; may be a possibility. Now, is the NCAA considering the matter closed, or if someone comes forward will they consider it open again.
If Johnny didn't take money, or didn't touch money, there were a lot of people in the room. Is there someone that knows something that hasn't said it.
Are they considering the case closed, or are they open to people coming forward later.
This is a statement we haven't heard before. That there were up to 15 people in the room when Johnny was signing with Drew Tieman. Sounds like he was invited to a house party, but I doubt we will ever know for sure. All of the points on this are moot. The NCAA isn't the judicial system. They don't have any rules governing double jeopardy. If someone comes forward with proof, they could re-open the case.
Since we have terms on a suspension, I also have to assume the case is closed. I couldn't image a scenario where the NCAA says: "We know you broke this really stupid rule, and we are going to keep looking in to it. For now, just sit against Rice for a half, and we'll figure out the rest after you leave for the NFL". We know what the suspension is now, and it is a joke. Rice probably loses by 27 instead of 42. On the plus side, we get to see how game ready our backup is.
Regardless, I expect ESPN to really hammer home the weakness of the NCAA and the Texas A&M Honor Code over the next few days. Buckle up ags. Kick-off is almost here.