Day 1 of Texas A&M's preseason camp began Monday, a day that just happened to coincide with some possible revelations that quarterback Johnny Manziel may have taken money in exchange for autographs. So much for a focused start to the season for head coach Kevin Sumlin.
Even so, Sumlin knew what he was in for, and structured his media approach accordingly. When asked about his reaction to the charges leveled against his prize quarterback, charges that could result in his suspension from the team, Sumlin took the diplomatic route: "Your reaction is one of, ‘OK, let’s find out the facts,’” Sumlin said. “Until we have the facts, 'your reaction' is not important.”
Sumlin, who said he only learned of the Manziel-autograph story within the last 24 hours, wisely kept his quarterback from talking to the media, but indicated that Manziel will do so at some point soon. He also indicated that practices will continue as normal, with Manziel working the same number of snaps he would have without this pesky little distraction.
“Johnny is our quarterback," said offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney. "Until I’m told differently by Coach Sumlin, we’re going to proceed like Johnny is our quarterback."
And he may very well be so from the very first snap of the year. As Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel notes, proving Manziel took money for autographs will be a tall order for the NCAA. In the absence of the proverbial smoking gun, the NCAA can only proceed on the basis of hearsay, and Manziel has the financial ability to defend himself. A similar NCAA investigation into former Auburn QB Cam Newton's past was unable to turn up sufficient evidence to warrant suspension.
The primary question facing Texas A&M is whether to keep Manziel from playing pending an NCAA investigation. Should Manziel play and the NCAA later rule him ineligible, Texas A&M would forfeit any games in which he played. Sumlin would only allow that "a lot of people" would be involved in the decision of whether Manziel would play in the Aggies' season opener Aug. 31 against Rice.
Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Much like Johnny Manziel, Desmond Howard is embroiled in photo-related flap
• Abandoning NCAA amateurism rules could have unexpected consequences
• Johnny Manziel could be a rebel with a cause