In one corner is Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, gloves on, and backed by a law firm that Southeastern Conference football fans have heard of before: Lightfoot, Franklin and White. In the other corner is NCAA enforcement, slumped on a stool, with its cut man not knowing where to start.
That's essentially the scene as the NCAA searches for answers in whether the Aggies quarterback accepted money for signing memorabilia. Johnny Football's eligibility is on the line, to be sure, but a simple eye test foretells a first-round knockout by the Manziel team.
Lightfoot, Frankiin and White represented former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, whom the NCAA investigated following pay-for-play allegations in 2010. Newton was suspended for one day. And that was before the NCAA's enforecement staff was summarily executed in the court of public opinion for its botching of the Miami investigation.
Oh, the spirit of compliance and the notion that NCAA enforcement and its member institutions work together through matters such as these is still alive on paper, but it's fast becoming lip service. The NCAA itself did its part to destroy the spirit of teamwork. And don't expect Texas A&M to fall on a sword of any kind.
To be sure, proving Manziel violated NCAA rules will be a tall order, and you can bet there is pressure to bring resolution to the matter -- one way or the other -- before the Aggies take the field August 31. On top of that, NCAA now takes on Manziel under a new enforcement model. And it will apparently have to do it short-handed.
The fight might not be over quickly. But it's not shaping up to be an upset, either.