Let's say Connor Halliday is your kid's favorite player, and you want to buy his jersey for your kid. But you find the official NCAA store difficult to navigate -- look, it's not like it's easy to find WSU on these things -- so you just type "connor halliday" into the search box.
Bingo: It takes you to a page for No. 12 WSU jerseys. This page:
Only one problem: The NCAA isn't supposed to be doing this, because, in the NCAA's world of "amateurism," there is no Connor Halliday jersey -- only WSU jerseys that happen to have the No. 12 on them which happens to be the same number worn by a player on the field who happens to be named "Connor Halliday." Because if it was actually a Connor Halliday jersey, the NCAA would be profiting off his likeness. And the NCAA would very much like you to believe that it is not profiting off of the likenesses of its student-athletes.
At the moment, they're trying very hard to convince a judge overseeing the Ed O'Bannon case of that. The rest of the world, of course, knows it's a bunch of crap, and I have a sneaking suspicion the NCAA itself does too. It's merely semantics in an effort to not have to share the profits of jersey sales with the WSU player who actually wears jersey No. 12 on Saturdays.
However, when your sole mission at the moment is trying to convince a judge to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that you are, in fact, profiting off players' likenesses ... well, it doesn't look very good when fans all over the country are discovering that the official NCAA store will return player name searches with jerseys matching the one they wear in games.
You might have noticed that Texas A&M No. 2 has been in the news the last couple of days for allegedly selling his autograph -- or, put another way, profiting off his likeness. But since it's just an extreme coincidence that "manziel" turns up a No. 2 Texas A&M jersey ...
Wait, this is what turns up for "clowney"?
And ... shoelaces?
Of course, none of this reflects very well on the NCAA. (Does anything reflect well on these guys these days?) First of all, if you're unfamiliar with searches work, in order for an item to come up like this, it would have to be "tagged" with that specific term. In other words, the NCAA -- which, again, is telling everyone there's no connection between jerseys and specific players -- has actual code in its software* linking specific products to specific player names.
Not good ... unless you're like me and you really would like players to start seeing a cut of this pie, because all this probably led to the O'Bannon lawyers cracking open the 100-year-old whiskey to a round of vigorous high fives.
(*The NCAA will predictably argue that this was the work of a third-party vendor and that it had no knowledge of such practices. We'll assume that a subpoena by Ed O'Bannon's lawyers will clear that one right up.)
This all got us wondering ... which other "extreme coincidences" could we find related to WSU? Quarterbacks are always a good bet:
As are point guards:
We encourage you to play along! Find what you can, grab screen caps, and post in the comments. But if you try to do this on your own, be aware: You have to go to "http://www.shopncaasports.com/search/player name" because -- WEIRD -- the search box has disappeared from the site!