Greeson: College football's race to the top begins

Greeson: College football's race to the top begins

August 31st, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel throws during NCAA college football practice in College Station, Texas.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Good morning, college football.

Sure, the Thursday night appetizer was nice. Well, nice for most everyone not involved with your Chattanooga Mocs.

Today, though, it begins for real. The chase for glory and the pursuit of poll votes and pole vaults that is the college football season.

Today we go from what we think will happen to what just happened. And as the season begins and every almost team is tied for first, the belief of anything being possible is both true and joyous.

The discovery of the knowledge in this college football march is the emotional roller coaster that makes this the best regular season in sports. Each week is a knot in your stomach -- part giddy nervousness, part waiting for the doctor to walk into the room. It's frantic and fun and frustrating and far too fast.

And the knowledge we glean each week will shape the experience and the memory.

The baseline of knowledge we have before the games begin and Lee Corso says something stupid this morning is even and direct.

We know that the Johnny Manziel mess has been wrapped, and the NCAA's handling of this debacle is the only thing worse than how Mocs fans feel this weekend.

Seriously, after former Georgia star wide receiver A.J. Green got suspended for four games a few years ago for selling one of his jerseys, Manziel was suspended for all of a half of Texas A&M's opener against an inferior team today. The decision would be comical if it weren't so ridiculous, especially considering the circumstances around each case.

A.J. has the right to be livid at the double standard, considering he committed the violation, told the truth about it and had to miss four games. Former Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant lied to the NCAA after freaking out, and he did it when the NCAA still had a power stick in the game. No, we don't know for sure, but if the NCAA doesn't have any evidence, then there should be no penalty at all.

This smacks of "we know you did it; you know you did it; let's all shake hands and make it go away."

This explains why the meeting between Manziel and the NCAA took six hours: All had to get their stories straight.

There's only two paths that make sense here -- multigame suspension (Green got four games for admitting to selling his jersey for far less than Manziel was allegedly paid) or nothing.

A half? That's crud, and everyone -- including the NCAA -- knows it, whether he did it or not. In fact, if he didn't do it, why is Johnny Football and Co. not crying foul and appealing? If he didn't do it, they are punishing an innocent guy.

But now that foolishness, the foils and fouls that fill our offseason, are bygones. They are ripples that created the waves that carried us to the season.

Now we wave to those waves because the season starts in earnest, and with it comes knowledge.

We will start to learn if Justin Worley is more than a place-holder until one of the University of Tennessee freshman quarterbacks is ready.

We will start to learn if Georgia is ready for the big stage on which national championship contenders must perform.

We will start to learn which team could challenge Alabama's steely grip on the BCS crystal football.

The first lessons arrive today. And they arrive not a moment too soon.