Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the main event, the show you've all been waiting for. In this corner, standing 6-foot-1, weighing 200 pounds ... the Tempest from Tyler, the Admiral of the Autograph, Johnny Manziel! And in the challenger's corner, in an unprecedented bout of 11 against one, from parts unknown, the Sam Houston State defense!
It couldn't be more fitting that the player college football fans want to watch most costs $39.95 to watch this week, the Fox Sports Southwest pay-per-view retail price for Texas A&M's home game with Sam Houston State. The Aggies star quarterback brings every possible allure to the pay-per-view audience, being villian to some and hero to others. And last week's wild half against Rice served as the perfect tease. To wit:
PPV sports typically involve a star attraction dropping a hammer of a score on a well-promoted but underskilled and hapless foe. Sam Houston State's defense is to Johnny Manziel what Peter McNeeley was to Mike Tyson. The Bearkats are to Texas A&M what the Washington Generals were to the Harlem Globetrotters. Studs vs. Stooges, get your tickets here.
PPV events also thrive on the appeal of the uncertain, the allure that something crazy might happen, and who would want to miss that? After escaping NCAA scrutiny for signed memorabilia, Johnny Manziel's season debut against Rice last week included a first-half suspension, hand gestures of cash and autographs, a personal foul for trash talk, and a benching by his own coach, all in less than a half. That's the equivalent of a chair-throwing brawl breaking out at a Floyd Mayweather weigh-in.
And last but certainly not least, PPV events need the buzz factor. They need to be the talk of the moment everywhere, from message boards to water coolers to kitchen tables. They need a couch full of beer-drinking, potato-chip-crunching men doing the math in their heads on what a one-sixth share of the PPV price would cost them.
Check, check and check.
Manziel has provided the ultimate PPV stage for this week's non-conference slaughter. People won't buy to see if Texas A&M wins; they'll buy to see how Johnny Football goes about it. Suffice it to say, Sam Houston State football is about to get more pay-per-view exposure than it ever could have hoped for. Not surprisingly, the Bearkats' online guide to buying the event is occupying a rotating spot in the lead position of the school's official athletics site.
So, how is the event tracking so far? A Fox Sports media relations representative indicated there is no way to track advance buys of the game, and won't get final numbers on the revenue for several weeks. Per SEC rules, Fox Sports said, the game will be distributed in Texas only.
That will leave 49 states scrambling for highlights. Or lowlights. Or whatever lights flash in what will be a name-your-score win for Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin. Because Manziel has become his own theater, it will be a show even his detractors can't help but watch.