Time for NCAA to put up or shut up when it comes to Manziel, Miami

It's been 21 days since ESPN's "Outside the Lines" first reported the allegations that Johnny Manziel had sold autographs. It's a clear-cut NCAA violation that compromises the Texas A&M quarterback's eligibility for the upcoming season.

The NCAA reportedly has been investigating the issue, but we've heard little to nothing from the group as Saturday's season opener against Rice creeps ever closer.

All indications are that the school plans on letting Manziel start against the Owls. It's a move that could come back to haunt the Aggies if the NCAA rules him ineligible.

Texas A&M officials, however, appear confident that the Heisman Trophy winner will be vindicated. Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp told a College Station news station he knows Manziel is "innocent" and "I know that he didn't do what they accused him of doing."


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Maybe Sharp and others at Texas A&M know something we don't know.

Or maybe they are just like the rest of us and are tired of the watching the NCAA drag its feet. Regardless of whether Manziel violated NCAA rules, the protracted investigation threatens to overshadow what looks to be one of the best college football season's years.

It's time for the NCAA to put up or shut up.

And while we're at it, isn't it about time the NCAA's Committee on Infractions handed down a decision following the investigation of the University of Miami?

It's been two months since Miami officials made their case in front of the committee and what was supposed to take anywhere from six to eight weeks is now entering its 10th week without some sort of resolution. Are NCAA officials walking from Indianapolis to Coral Cables to hand deliver their findings?

If you are looking for the NCAA's Battle of Waterloo, this case is it.

From the moment Yahoo! Sports first reported former booster Nevin Shapiro allegedly paid former and current football players money in August 2011, this case has been nothing but one mistake on top of another.

The lowl point, of course, came when the NCAA was forced to stop the Miami probe so that it could launch an internal review into unethical practices by its own staff members. They worked with Shapiro's attorneys and used his bankruptcy case as an opportunity to subpoena witnesses and compel testimony the NCAA ordinarily would not have been able to obtain. NCAA president Mark Emmert was forced to apologize for the unethical tactics and any material obtained through Shapiro's bankruptcy case no longer can be used while weighing potential sanctions against the university.

Since then, the NCAA has been forced to circle the wagons as criticism of the organization and Emmert have been coming from all sides.

To its credit, the Miami football program has accepted some responsibility for the NCAA rule violations and self imposed postseason bans for two years. It's also begun limiting the size of its recruiting classes. The Hurricanes also prevented athletes from participating in games with the hope of appeasing the NCAA's Committee of Infractions.

However, as the investigation drags on, the dark cloud continues to hang over the program, enveloping its coaches, players and fans who have spent the past two years wondering when enough is enough.

And now the Hurricanes have the potential for a big season on the horizon.

Al Golden has 19 returning starters from a young team that won eight games last season. The ACC Coastal Division and an ACC Championship Game appearance is within Miami's grasp, but NCAA sanctions could take the title options away.

Much like Manziel's case, it's long past time for the NCAA to put an end to this witch hunt. It's over. If you want to save face, hand down some probation and reduction of scholarships and let us all move on.

It's the best thing for everyone involved.

mmurschel@tribune.com

USC to open with 2 QBS

When No. 24 USC opens up the season against Hawaii Thursday night in Honolulu, the Trojans will do so with two quarterbacks leading the offense. Sophomores Max Wittek and Cody Kessler will both see action, according to head coach Lane Kiffin. Wittek started the final two games of the season, throwing for 388 yards with three touchdowns and five interceptions. Kessler saw limited action (2-for-2, 9 yards) in 2012.

FSU, Miami headline Big Ten/ACC challenge

Over in the ACC, the Florida State men's basketball team will travel to Minnesota to take on the Golden Gophers on Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 9:30 p.m. as part of ESPN's Big Ten /ACC Challenge. The event will feature 12 games during a two-day period broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. Miami travels to Lincoln to take on Nebraska on Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 9:30 p.m. on ESPNU. This is the 15th season of the challenge pitting teams from the two conferences against each other. The ACC holds a 10-3-1 record in the event.

Sentinel's preseason CFB poll

After nearly four months and 125 teams, we've come to the end of our 2013-14 preseason College Football Countdown. Go to Orlandosentinel.com/countdown and view our entire countdown and find out where your team is ranked.

On the Web

For more college football news, head over to our blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/collegegridiron or like us at Facebook.com/collegegridiron 365. You can also add me on Google+ by searching for Matt Murschel or follow me on Twitter via @osmattmurschel.

 

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