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Apocalypse Sign: CBS’ Johnny Cam

One sign that the athletic apocalypse is upon us has to be CBS’ installation of the “Johnny Cam,” a camera whose only purpose is to follow Johnny Manziel exclusively through last Saturday’s Alabama-Texas A&M game.

Manziel is the poster child for the disparity between a player’s value and allowable compensation under NCAA rules. By Texas A&M’s own calculation, Manziel generated $37 million in media exposure. He receives an in-state scholarship at A&M valued at just over $20,000 per year.

It is hard to conclude that this is either fair or equitable. While a large number of people are arguing that he is amply paid by a “free education,” clearly the landscape has changed since the artificial construct of NCAA rules regarding prohibited compensation were put in place.

Big-time college athletics long have been essentially professional operations that handsomely reward coaches, athletic directors, conference commissioners, bowl directors and others, but not the players generating the revenue.

And that revenue has become obscene and has colleges changing conferences and abandoning rivalries to chase a larger share of it. And yet players are not allowed to profit from their own likeness or signature, unlike other U.S citizens. Already video games and the NCAA are being sued for using players’ likenesses without either compensation or permission, a lawsuit that many experts believe the NCAA will lose.

I’m not suggesting that players be paid, but it’s high time to adjust the restricted covenant to which they are subject. I frequently hear people exclaim, “This will be the end of college football” if players are allowed to sell autographs or otherwise trade on their success.

It probably won’t end college football, but it may indeed look different.

But fears of losing something we mightily enjoy are not a good enough reason to perpetuate what is becoming a serious injustice.

The argument is not enhanced by Johnny Football being the face of it; he is not an entirely sympathetic figure. Most people in sports are sure he lied about accepting money for autograph-signings last winter, but there was no proof to seriously penalize him. And he seems to go about his business without much concern about how his behavior looks or affects his team or school.

But you only can guess what the value of the Johnny Cam will be to CBS or Texas A&M, and Manziel may never enjoy a lucrative pro career as his skill set may prove to be best-suited for the college game.

I don’t believe that student athletes have some right to break the rules after signing up for them through the letter of intent, but the rules themselves are antiquated, unjust and need to be addressed. * The University of Hawaii will open its MWC season in Reno this Saturday at Nevada in Reno.

While that never has been a place where UH has had much success, it may have a few things in its favor this time.

The Rainbow Warriors should be at their best in terms of health with injured players expected to be sufficiently healed for the game. Running back Joey Iosefa, defensive lineman Kennedy Tulimasealii, tight end Jordan Pu’u-Robinson and safety Marrell Jackson all are expected to play.

The Wolfpack is coming off a bruising, physical game against Florida State, and Nevada has some serious vulnerabilities on defense.

The setup could be ideal for UH to break into the win column Saturday.