Historically, landmark NCAA enforcement cases -- the ones that change the future of college athletics -- are marked by heavy penalties. In concluding its latest case, signing off on a one-half suspension of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel amid allegations that he profited from more than 4,000 autographs, the NCAA now has a landmark known for the absence of penalties. If you haven't yet noticed, the crosshairs of criticism have moved away from Manziel and are now squarely on the NCAA itself.
Zing! RT @GeorgeSchroeder: South Carolina-North Carolina game has now been suspended longer than Johnny Manziel.â Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) August 30, 2013
The training meal NCAA has mandated for Johnny Manziel prior to TAMU's game against Rice. pic.twitter.com/I90wyTvKRUâ Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) August 28, 2013
BREAKING NEWS: the NCAA has just reduced ARod's suspension to 4 1/2 innings.â Michael Kay (@RealMichaelKay) August 28, 2013
National Clowned Again Associationâ Travis Reier (@travisreier) August 28, 2013
The NCAA's real credibility loss, however, has little to do with its inability to nail Manziel on what ESPN reported. The NCAA can't, and shouldn't, levy stiff penalties when its evidence is flimsy. With no assistance from the very autograph dealers that squealed to the media, and in the face of Manziel's own denials, the NCAA clearly had nothing. Where the NCAA and common sense go their separate ways was in the logic by which Manziel was suspended at all. Johnny Football will serve the most infamous one half of a football game suspension Saturday against Rice for what was described as an "inadvertent violation" regarding his autographs. Read: The NCAA expects the public to believe that Manziel not only signed autographs for free, but also that he was unaware they would, in turn, be sold.
And for that, college football's governing body deserves all the lampooning it receives. It presumably suspended Manziel for his ignorance.
Trouble is, nobody is that ignorant.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.