When is a signature worth more than the paper it's written on?
When that signature belongs to Johnny Manziel, apparently.
A week after it came to light the Texas A&M quarterback was being investigated by the NCAA for allegedly accepting cash in exchange for his signature on helmets and photographs, Manziel went from the NCAA's most-wanted to poster boy for injustice in college athletics.
Critics cried foul that athletes like Manziel or South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, Ohio State's Braxton Miller and USC's Marqise Lee make millions of dollars for the NCAA and their respective schools, but they receive little beyond tuition in return.
Rules are rules and NCAA bylaw 184.108.40.206 clearly states an athlete cannot profit from his or her own likeness in any way. It's a rule taught to athletes from Day One right after where the dining hall is located and what time is curfew.
Is it fair?
Absolutely not. But until change is enacted, it's still a rule and must be followed.
However, the NCAA didn't help its case when it decided to sell specific player memorabilia on its own website.
The NCAA's dirty little secret was exposed by ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, who took to Twitter last week to point out that a simple search on shopncaasports.com for Manziel's name, brought up a Texas A&M jersey's with Manziel's No. 2 on it. A similar search for other well-known players names returned similar results.
If that wasn't bad enough, Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com highlighted a search on the site that found autographed photos of former USC player Reggie Bush going for $180 apiece. The NCAA made money off Bush while telling USC it had to disassociated itself from Bush, one of many sanctions levied for impermissible benefits Bush received while at USC.
NCAA president Mark Emmert offered a mea culpa, admitting the NCAA shouldn't be in the memorabilia-selling business. Calling it "hypocritical," Emmert said the organization would no longer be selling team-related items on its website.
Too little, too late if you ask me.
Signed memorabilia is big business and one that does not benefit amateur athletes.
Do a search for a player such as Manziel on a popular website like eBay.com and at any given time you'll find hundreds of items up for auction. A white Texas A&M helmet signed by the Heisman Trophy winner was listed at $2,000, while an autographed photo was available for $6. Items signed by Clowney, Miller and Lee also bring in big money. From footballs to jerseys, helmets to photographs, items signed by amateur athletes are all over the online marketplace.
Whether these items were procured without violating NCAA rules is another matter altogether.
Attend a game or school's practice and you will see groups of children eagerly awaiting the change to get a mini-helmet or photograph signed by their favorite player. However, for every child, there are five adults shoving multiple footballs, photographs and jerseys in a player's face.
Some truly are fans, but most of the time those items will find their way onto eBay.com or some other auction site.
It's a wonder any athlete would want to sign his name on anything but an NFL contract.
LSU's Miles under fire
If he had a vote, TCU's Gary Patterson probably wouldn't support Les Miles and his brand of justice. Patterson, whose team opens the season against Miles and LSU on Aug. 31, was asked for his opinion of Miles' decision not to suspend troubled running back Jeremy Hill. It's a decision Miles said was made by a team vote. It's a touchy subject for Patterson, who suspended his star defensive player, Devonte Fields, for the first two games of the season, including the season-opener against the Tigers. "My whole team would vote Devonte to be back on the team because they all want to win," Patterson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram late last week. "That doesn't teach life lessons." No, it doesn't. It's disappointing Miles would put the responsibility on the shoulders of young players rather than stepping up and making the right decision.
Former Stanford great John Elway will have his No. 7 jersey retired by the school during halftime of the Cardinal's Nov. 7 home football game against Oregon. Elway played quarterback for the school from 1979-82 before moving on to the NFL and a successful career with the Denver Broncos. He currently serves as the Broncos' executive vice president. Elway joins Ernie Nevers (1) and Jim Plunkett (16) as the only Stanford players to have their jerseys retired.
Fox Sports 1 announces hoops coverage
Fox Sports 1 is set to debut Saturday, but the network is already setting its sights ahead to next year. The new 24-hour sports channel announced last week that it will debut a Super Saturday Hoops doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 1, that will feature Marquette-St. John's (12:30 p.m.) and Michigan State-Georgetown (3 p.m.) live from Madison Square Garden on the eve of Super Bowl XLVIII. Fox Sports 1 is slated to air 100 Big East basketball games this upcoming season.
Sentinel's preseason CFB poll
We've reached the top 15 in our college football preseason countdown. The Sentinel has ranked all 125 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country, revealing a new team each day until we reach No. 1. Go to Orlandosentinel.com/countdown to find out where your team ranks.
On the Web
For more college football news, head over to our blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/collegegridiron or you can like us at Facebook.com/collegegridiron 365 and add me on Google +. Follow us on Twitter at @osmattmurschel and @gridiron365.