With his Heisman Trophy-winning starting quarterback the subject of an NCAA investigation, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin maintained on Monday that his team will prepare for the new season as normal and adjust if and when it has to do so.
Sumlin said he first became aware of allegations that Johnny Manziel broke NCAA rules when the Aggies met for their first team meeting of the new campaign on Sunday evening. The dual-threat quarterback's college eligibility could be in jeopardy, and Sumlin said that he talked to Manziel a little bit about the allegations but did not discuss to reporters what was said.
According to Sumlin, the school is “doing its due diligence to find out the facts” about an ESPN Outside The Lines report Sunday evening that Manziel agreed to a “five-figure flat fee” with an autograph broker for signing memorabilia during a visit to Miami in the lead-up to the 2013 BCS title game in January. According to NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199, student-athletes are prohibited from accepting money for promotion or sale of a product or service.
Until the investigation is concluded, the eligibility of Manziel is in question. Sumlin, though, did not shed any light onto a possible suspension of Manziel in the meantime, saying “a lot of people [would be] involved in that decision.” The head coach said Manziel will get as many reps as he would have received before yesterday's news, but the Aggies want to be able to develop their backups this preseason as well for depth purposes. New offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney said that the plan going into camp was tabbing a backup QB.
Of course, former backup Jameill Showers transferred to UTEP this offseason. He was beaten out by Manziel for the starting job last fall. Matt Joeckel, whose older brother, Luke, was the left tackle for the Aggies for the past few seasons, would likely step into Manziel's shoes if the Heisman winner is suspended.