The biggest off-the-field story leading up to today's kickoff of the college football season wasn't the issue around the eligibility of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, after he did or didn't receive compensation for signing a lot of autographs; its the introduction of ever more football people to the world of lawyers and settlements, where right and wrong, and what did or didn't happen are barely even factors.
As announced yesterday, Manziel will sit out the first half of the Aggies' opener against Rice. Which led directly to all sorts of reactions, most of which boiled down to "If he did it, that's not nearly enough of a punishment, and if he didn't, why did Manziel and Texas A&M agree to ANY punishment?"
Even one of ESPN's Thursday College Football Prime Time crew, Reece Davis, David Pollack, and Jesse Palmer, took this stance.
The answer is this was a good business decision for Manziel and Texas A&M.
The 6 hours of negotiations that consumed Manziel's Sunday can be boiled down to the NCAA not having anything, but their lawyers saying "We can't win, but we can ruin your season before we lose."
The choice was accept nothing, and have the NCAA hit Manziel and the Aggies with something larger on the eve of the Alabama game, too late to get an appeal made, or an alternative plan in place for the game. The whole thing would have fallen apart come the first of the week, but that game against the Tide can never be gotten back for a do-over.
Or, accept what they got, an annoying, but otherwise innocuous distraction to the Rice game, allowing the NCAA to claim they did something, and their lawyers to get paid. In exchange, the NCAA agrees to go away and leave Texas A&M and Manziel alone. The Aggies still make money, and at some point Manziel will to, if he hasn't already.
Lawsuits for fun and profit at its best!
If ever there was proof that its time for football, this is it!