Erick Rommel

Sometimes, the mind makes odd connections. Mine recently connected three people — Johnny Manziel, Steven Rhodes and Ashton Kutcher. For those who aren’t familiar, Kutcher is an actor, Manziel is a football player and Rhodes is a Marine.

Last year, Manziel won the Heisman Trophy, the top award for a college football player. The Texas A&M quarterback’s name might also be familiar for other reasons. Manziel enjoys using the perks of his celebrity to their fullest, meaning he likes to party, which leads to a downside of celebrity — when you party, everyone knows.

Rhodes, as far as I know, keeps his wild side, if he has one, under wraps. He received his discharge over the summer and immediately enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University.

Rhodes and Manziel are two people from two different worlds, but both are in the crosshairs of the NCAA, the organization tasked with overseeing amateur athletics at the college level.

The NCAA declared Rhodes ineligible to play college football because of his service in the Marines. It ruled that his Marine recreational league games were “organized competition” because the games had officials and the teams wore uniforms.

Manziel also is under investigation. He’s suspected of receiving money to sign autographs. Receiving money as an athlete is against NCAA rules, even though athletes like Manziel earn their universities significant amounts of money.

But how do Rhodes and Manziel connect with Kutcher? A few weeks ago, Kutcher received a Teen Choice Award. During his acceptance speech, he shared advice for success: Find your opportunities, always be sexy and build a life rather than just live one. Rhodes and Manziel are heeding this advice.

Kutcher told his audience opportunity is hard work. “I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than,” he said. “And every job I had was a steppingstone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job.”

In terms of sexiness, he said it comes from mental agility, not physical attributes. “The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart and being thoughtful and being generous,” he said. “Everything else is crap. … It’s just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less.”

He urged teens to “build your own things … build a life. Don’t live one, build one.”

Manziel has a great job as a college quarterback. Every game is an audition for his next job, which he hopes will be in the NFL. If he broke an NCAA rule, there will be consequences.

Rhodes is a college student. He’s Kutcher’s type of sexy, meaning he knows what he wants and he’s building a life others will have to accept on his terms, not theirs.

That’s a lesson the NCAA learned. Soon after its decision regarding Rhodes became public, it quickly reversed course. It decided Rhodes is eligible to play college football.

Manziel’s fate will be unknown for weeks, if not months. Whether he takes the field again is secondary compared to where he takes his life. Hopefully, he knows what’s at stake and gets rid of the crap.

If not, I know a certain actor he should call. I’m pretty sure that guy has it all figured out.