- Associated Press - Friday, August 30, 2013

Don’t blink, or you may miss Johnny Football’s suspension.

If there’s any doubt the NCAA has become totally irrelevant, beyond ruling on such weighty issues as whether a former Marine who put his life on the line for his country should be allowed to play college football, it was the punishment doled out to the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

Texas A&M will have to get by without quarterback Johnny Manziel for two whole quarters in Saturday’s season opener against mighty Rice.

Ohhh, the humanity.

Manziel, of course, allegedly got paid for his signature by some guys in the upstanding world of sports memorabilia, and the NCAA seized the opportunity to conduct an investigation that was straight from the Barney Fife crime-fighting manual. Though, come to think of it, even ol’ Barn was allowed to carry a bullet in his shirt pocket. We’re not sure we’d go even that far with these guys.

Enough of this charade.

It’s time to shut down the NCAA, or at least strip it of whatever enforcement powers it supposedly has. After a series of unjust rulings over the past few years, not to mention the botched investigation of Miami over allegations that would’ve made Caligula blush, the organization has forfeited the right to be taken with any degree of seriousness.

While the Hurricanes are still waiting for a ruling in their case, some two years after former booster Nevin Shapiro went public with his scandalous claims, the NCAA moved with lightning speed to give Manziel a love tap on the wrist.

The ruling that came down this week, conveniently timed to coincide with the start of the season, found Manziel was guilty of an “inadvertent” violation _ whatever that is _ and would have to sit out the first 30 minutes of the season.

Heck, that doesn’t even give him time to head to the casino or post another bit of debauchery on social media or complete his service at the Manning family’s quarterback camp, the one he skipped out on early over the summer.

In all seriousness, this is not an indictment of Johnny Football. College athletes deserve to be paid for all the millions they bring in to their universities. It’s beyond ridiculous that a player would have to sneak around to sell his own signature just to bring in a few well-deserved bucks.

But this much is clear: The schools supposedly governed by the NCAA need to set up a regulatory agency that has some real bite _ and can rule with at least a modicum of fairness _ or do away with the whole farce. We’re guessing higher education, which already sold its soul in the name of big-time college athletics, would choose the latter.

At this point, we’d be fine with that.

Based on the way the Manziel case was handled, we’re already there anyway.

Here’s how the “investigation” went down:

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