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And Another Thing

File | Associated Press

What to do about Johnny Manziel

Look, I don't care if Johnny Manziel signed stuff six times for three dealers for $7,500, or 7,500 times for six dealers for $3. It's his name. It's his brand. If his school and the NCAA can make money off it, he should get to make money off it, too.

But because the NCAA still controls collegiate athletics, he's now on the carpet for breaking the NCAA's rules. And so is his school, Texas A&M, which is being forced into an impossible choice because the NCAA's rules in this instance are practically Orwellian in the way they warp reality and defy logic.

Here, in a nutshell, is the deal. Try to keep up:

The NCAA, which interviewed Manziel for six hours over the weekend, mandates that any school who plays an athlete who's subsequently ruled to be ineligible will be punished for playing said athlete, even though at the time they played him he hadn't yet been ruled ineligible. This is because the NCAA, unlike the rest of us, can go back in time and decide that a kid who wouldn't be ruled ineligible until, say, three weeks later was, in fact, already ineligible. Even though he wasn't.

I'm just guessing here, but I suspect this has something to do with black holes. Or rips in the space-time continuum. Or maybe they saw Tom Cruise in "Minority Report" and thought, "Pre-crime! What a splendid idea!"

No other explanations suffice for how the NCAA can retroactively punish an institution for something that wasn't against the rules at the time it occurred. To say it's enormously unjust is practically unnecessary; it's unjust on not just one level but several.

First there's the aforementioned circumstance in which the NCAA rules Manziel ineligible and then punishes A&M for deciding to stand behind their man. Loyalty to your players, apparently, holds no cache for the NCAA.

Now let's say A&M does the prudent thing and sits Manziel for one, two, three games, or however long it takes for the NCAA to rule. And let's say A&M, a team with legitimate BCS hopes, loses a couple of those games without him. And let's say, after that happens, the NCAA rules in Manziel's favor.

Now you've not only robbed an innocent kid of part of his college career, you've also likely cost A&M millions in bowl revenue. Because now it has to run the table in order to get a BCS bid, which, in the SEC, it's unlikely to do.

In what sort of universe is this just? And does that universe have one sun, or two?

Ben Smith's blog.