Can NCAA Afford To Let Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel Fail?

By Marilee Gallagher

During the American financial crisis, the expression “too big to fail” was used as a way to explain why certain top institutions were given bailouts. On the Wikipedia page of the same name, the “too big to fail” theory is explained as when “certain financial institutions are so large and so interconnected that their failure would be disastrous to the economy, and they therefore must be supported by government when they face difficulty.”

Would it be so bold to make the case that what these banks and institutions were to the U.S. financial structure is what Heisman standout Johnny Manziel represents to the NCAA and college football?

Think about it.

The theory says that the failure of these large and interconnected institutions would be disastrous to the economy. In the case of Manziel, he has truly become larger than life. Once just an unknown freshman, Manziel rose from relative obscurity to become a household name and in many cases, a role model and hero. He has brought unprecedented success to a sport looking for its next big name.

And with the ever-revolving door of players, the media attention he has received leading into his sophomore season is the best thing the NCAA could hope for. By now Manziel’s offseason transgressions are well known, as is the investigation being conducted by the NCAA to see if he illegally profited from the sale of his autographed memorabilia.

But for what Manziel has meant to college football, would it be unconscionable to believe the NCAA might not look to find any evidence against the quarterback?

This is where the question of if Manziel is too big to fail comes into play.

Manziel certainly means a lot to the college football economy and its profit and greed-based nature. And considering that the NCAA has been accused of being corrupt and putting the athletes second and their wallets first, Manziel might just get the same sort of assistance those financial institutions did. That is if the NCAA thinks he is too big to fail, anyway.

I have no doubt the NCAA would stake its questionable reputation to cover up a scandal if it meant more money for them, but they don’t need to. Yes, Manziel is a superstar and a phenomenal talent, but like all college athletes, his legend may survive but the NCAA can really only continue to profit off of him for maybe two more years before he leaves for the NFL.

The NCAA can’t stake their future on Manziel’s star forever, so why try to force two years of dealing with partying, bad decisions and scandals from the 20-year-old? Besides, college athletes fade almost as quickly as they rise. Manziel may be the defending Heisman winner, but all of the college football world is already talking about Jadeveon Clowney as the guy to watch in 2014.

So if Manziel is guilty of taking money for signing autographs, the NCAA will survive if he misses the season. Manziel will take the bigger hit, both for his reputation and his draft stock. Considering the cartel-esque nature of the NCAA, it is hard to believe an institution with so much power, influence and affluence would ever find one player, albeit a very talented one, too big to fail.

Marilee Gallagher is a baseball writer for You can follow her on Twitter @MGallagher17 like her page on Facebook, or join her network on Google.

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