Johnny Manziel’s legal issues threaten to upstage kickoff of 2013 college football season

Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel is suspended for the first half against Rice. Photo by Shutterbug 459 via Wikimedia Commons.

Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel is suspended for the first half against Rice. Photo by Shutterbug 459 via Wikimedia Commons.

College football’s 2013 season kicked off last night with a number of games, including a televised border-state rivalry between North Carolina and South Carolina. Hype for that game centered on phenomenal USC defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

South Carolina won 27-10.

As usual, the Huseby blog is more interested in the law angle than what happens on the field. It probably doesn’t come as any surprise that there are a number of legal issues swirling around college football this season.

The most prominent is the story of Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman trophy last year and has been suspended for a very small part of the season this year.

During the off-season, Manziel was accused of signing autographs for money, a violation of NCAA regulations.

Johnny Football, as he is known, is suspended for the first half of Saturday’s season opener against the Rice Owls, A&M and the NCAA announced Wednesday in a joint statement.

Manziel’s lawyer, Jim Darnell, had this to say, according to He did not believe Manziel violated any NCAA rules, but he accepted the suspension in order to “get Johnny back on the field.” Darnell also said:

“We don’t really believe [the suspension] was warranted, but we believe NCAA and Texas A&M worked with us to get this matter resolved, Johnny was willing to accept it to get back on the football field and compete.”

Darnell said he was thankful the NCAA resolved the situation before the season began.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” he said.

Read more.

Manziel attorney Jim Darnell.

Manziel attorney Jim Darnell.

Who is Jim Darnell?
Darnell is a cowboy hat-wearing attorney from El Paso, Texas whose website touts his criminal law and military and court martial work.

He told KVIA TV he’s represented 15-20 players and coaches in cases against the NCAA in his career. Asked what it’s like to deal with the NCAA he said:

“I’ll take the fifth on that one. I like our judicial system, let me just say that. And it (the NCAA) ain’t our judicial system.”

Texas A&M hired Lightfoot, Franklin & White, the same Birmingham, Ala., law firm that helped keep Cam Newton eligible in 2010, according to The Dallas Morning News. Like Auburn University and Newton, Texas A&M it did so to protect Manziel’s eligibility, the paper said.

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