DALLAS — In his strongest comments defending Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel yet, Texas A&M system chancellor John Sharp said Thursday that he has seen enough evidence to conclude that Manziel did not violate NCAA rules by allegedly signing thousands of autographs for pay.
“I know he’s innocent,” Sharp told KBTX News 3 in College Station. “I know that he didn’t do what they accused him of doing.
“I think that it’s time that we, once we knew what the facts are and we know the facts … and I’ve seen what everybody else has seen now, and the rest of the country is going to get to see that before it’s over with. It was a bunch of hype journalism.
“I’ve seen things that other folks can’t see. And it didn’t happen. It did not happen.”
A&M officials have not given a timeline on when it will be determined whether Manziel starts the season opener Aug. 31 against Rice.
ESPN responded to Sharp’s criticisms of the network’s reporting on Manziel in an email Wednesday to some members of the Aggie community. ESPN released a statement: “We stand by our reporting.”
Sharp criticized the network’s use of unnamed sources who “refuse to provide an interview or any tangible proof” and reporter Darren Rovell’s track record.
Manziel named second-team All-SEC: The ruckus surrounding Manziel may have affected SEC coaches when they voted for the preseason All-SEC teams.
Georgia senior Aaron Murray was named the first-team quarterback when the squad was announced Thursday.
Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner, had to settle for second team. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, who has led the Crimson Tide to the last two BCS national titles, earned a third-team spot. Coaches could not vote for their own players.
Manziel set an SEC record for total offense, with 5,116 yards last season.
Murray is already the first SEC quarterback to pass for 3,000 yards in his first three seasons and enters the season with SEC career records in reach.
Other Aggies named to the preseason teams include offensive lineman Jake Matthews (first team), receiver Mike Evans (second team) and defensive back Deshazor Everett (third team).
Backup QB race narrows: A&M’s closely watched backup quarterback battle appears down to Arlington’s Matt Joeckel, a redshirt junior, and Southlake Carroll’s Kenny Hill, a freshman. Redshirt freshman Matt Davis will transfer, according to multiple reports Thursday.
The backup is obviously key if Manziel is required to miss games.