Alabama rematch with Manziel scores record ticket price
Saturday's rematch between Alabama and Texas A&M, featuring Aggie quarterback and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, is one of the most anticipated games in college football—and one of the most expensive.
According to Forbes, tickets for the game in College Station, Texas, the home of the A&M Aggies, are going for an average of $763 on the secondary market, making it the highest price ever for a regular season football game. (A secondary market is described as tickets being resold off-site.)
That's $50 more than the previous high ticket price of $713 when Alabama played LSU in 2011.
All together, ticket sales in the secondary market will reach a reported $2 million in revenue for the Alabama-Texas A&M game.
As for whether this signals a spiral of ticket price inflation for college football, one analyst said that it's unlikely.
"This is a unique game and really a one-time deal," said Pat Rishe, a professor of sports economics at Webster University.
"It's a perfect storm when you look at it. You've got 'Johnny Football' (Manziel), the game's at Texas A&M which is not used to a game of this magnitude, a revenge factor for Alabama and a national championship perhaps on the line for both teams," he said.
"So it's somewhat natural for the high ticket prices because of all the hype and interest. But I don't see them going up overall after this," Rishe said.
'He a huge problem'
The game features the No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide against the No. 6-ranked Aggies.
Last year, in a stunning upset, Manziel led his team to a 29-24 win over Alabama on the Crimson Tide's home field at Tuscaloosa. It most likely secured his win for the Heisman Trophy—the first time a freshman has won it. (Manziel had the designation of a redshirt freshman, which allows college players to extend their careers over five to six years instead of four.)
But the loss didn't keep Alabama from winning college football's championship when it soundly beat Notre Dame 42-14 in the title game.
Alabama is favored to win Saturday's rematch with Texas A&M among sports analysts, but both teams come into the game under a cloud.
Manziel's off-field activities over signing autographs led the NCAA, the governing body of college sports, to force him to miss the first half of the team's first game against Rice (the Aggies won 52-31). Manziel has refused to talk about the issue and will not face the media before or after the Alabama game.
(The NCAA said Manziel didn't receive money but violated the spirit of a rule disallowing the likeness or autographs of college athletes to be used for commercial purposes.)
Against Rice, Manziel was pulled by his coach, Kevin Sumlin, late in the game for taunting the Rice defensive players by rubbing his fingers together in money-making gestures—as well as mimicking the writing of his autograph.
"He's got a big problem with the autograph issue and his behavior," said Webster University's Rishe.
"I think it's going to cost him when he enters the NFL draft," Rishe said. "Teams will be cautious about him and when it comes to marketing deals, corporations are careful these days about who they sign up."
"Tim Tebow might not be a good NFL player, but he locked up a lot of marketing deals because he's got a positive brand associated with him," Rishe contended. "Manziel hasn't built up much good will."
Allegations against former 'bama player
As for Alabama, the team's coach, Nick Saban, faced repeated questions Wednesday over allegations that one of his former players, D.J. Fluker, who was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2012, received improper benefits in college along with other players in the SEC sports conference.
"I think we have one of the best programs in what we try to do to help our players make good choices and good decisions when it comes to agents," Saban told reporters at his weekly press conference. "I have full confidence in our leadership. We're going to do whatever we need to do to handle the situation appropriately, and I know that we will."
After saying he wouldn't answer any more questions about the allegations—and then still being asked about them without one question about the Aggies—a frustrated Saban concluded the press conference by saying, "Appreciate your interest in the (Texas A&M) game."
Both the Crimson Tide and Aggie players and coaches have said that the rematch is just another slot on their schedule. But nobody's buying it.
"This is a big game, and a lot's riding on it," said Rishe. "Manziel's out to prove he's a good quarterback and that last year's win wasn't a fluke. Alabama wants some payback. It should be a great game."
—By CNBC's Mark Koba. Follow him on Twitter