Suspended Buckeyes Show Their Character, Return For Senior Season: "...It was shocking to see the amount of cynicism sent the way of these players in the aftermath of this news. For those who are fortunate enough to either have been coached by Jim Tressel, know someone else who has been coached by him, or in some other way have direct knowledge of the way he works, you know the impact he has on his players and deep connection and bond they have. If you truly understand the way Jim Tressel interacts with his players, it was hard to imagine these players breaking their word with him. Back on December 30th, when Tressel publicly acknowledged that this pledge to return had been made by all 5 players, I tweeted the following: “People who are cynical of the OSU players’ pledges to Tressel don’t understand OSU football and the way Jim Tressel works.” Of course, this was met with much skepticism...
As much as I can respect the dissenting opinions of fans who disagree with me, I have a much bigger problem with those who are paid to be unbiased and to be beacons of knowledge and expertise in the sports in which they cover who used their podium to try to destroy the reputation of these players and Coach Tressel. It’s one thing to state disappointment with the players for breaking these rules, but it’s something completely different to eviscerate the character of young kids who made dumb mistakes that they have apologized for and asked for forgiveness for. I get criticizing the actions, but I can’t comprehend the thought process of those who criticize the core character of those they don’t know.
Kirk Herbstreit actually used the phrase “addition by subtraction” to describe the impact of OSU losing Terrelle Pryor. Countless other media types attacked the character of these Ohio State players and cast public skepticism over the odds they would actually live up to their word..." Source: Waiting for Next Year 1/19/11
Buckeyes' return a testament to Tressel: "...There are times when those of us in the media need to admit we're wrong, and this is one of those times. After the suspension bombshell last month, I had a hard time believing the players would return simply because of a verbal or written promise to Tressel. There are no binding agreements in cases like these. Players can ultimately do what they want.
There was a lot of justified criticism about the players being allowed -- by both the NCAA and Ohio State -- to participate in the Sugar Bowl, and the agreements between the players and Tressel sparked a good deal of skepticism...I can't control what my media colleagues do, but I'll fully admit I underestimated Tressel and his influence on his players. If these guys didn't care about disappointing their coach, at least one if not more would be entering the draft. Pryor and the others didn't want to let down The Vest, and that's very significant.
I don't know how many other coaches could do what Tressel did in this situation, especially when some of the players have opportunities to get paid at the next level...But Tressel's legacy in Columbus is clear and continues to grow..." Source: ESPN 1/19/11
Buckeye Five keep their word, stay in school: "There were many, many people — ourselves included — who openly questioned whether the five Ohio State players suspended for receiving impermissible benefits would honor their pledge and return to the Buckeyes for another season. As it turns out, they did. Every single one of ‘em. While not mentioning the quintet by name, head coach Jim Tressel told the Columbus Dispatch that his Buckeyes did not lose any underclassmen to the early entry into the NFL draft. That includes quarterback Terrelle Pryor, wide receiver DeVier Posey, running back Boom Herron, offensive tackle Mike Adams and defensive end/Sugar Bowl hero Solomon Thomas, all of whom have been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season. The first four players mentioned were full-time starters in 2010. "Our kids want to finish their degree and their commitment at Ohio State," Tressel told the Dispatch. “That is very important to each and every one of them, and to our staff and entire athletics family."..." Source: College Football Talk 1/18/11
Tressel says Pryor, other sanctioned juniors pledge to return for senior season: "Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said this morning that the five junior players who are scheduled to serve a five-game suspension at the start of next season, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, had to pledge they would return for their senior season before being included on this Sugar Bowl trip to play Arkansas on Tuesday night. Tressel said he told the five they "have to make any decision based on the future and (leaving early for the) NFL prior to us leaving for our bowl game. It wouldn't be fair if someone was able to participate" and then leave. With that prerequisite, the pledge of allegiance was unanimous, Tressell said. They came from Pryor, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, left tackle Mike Adams and backup defensive end Solomon Thomas, who are facing five-game suspensions to start the 2011 season after it was discovered they sold personal awards and memorabilia before their eligibility was done, a violation of NCAA rules. Reserve linebacker Jordan Whiting will be suspended one game next year because of his transgression. "I'm excited to say that all of the guys who were involved, knowing perhaps they had some options like playing in this game and then leaving (the program) and maybe another option would be to take themselves out of this game hoping to the appeal for the future (suspension) would be softened none of them want to do that," Tressel said. "They are going into this opportunity their eyes open knowing they have significant sanctions for their senior year. They know they have to live with those."..." Source: Columbus Dispatch 12/30/10
Plenty of hypocrisy to go around in Ohio State football suspensions: Terry Pluto writes: "Question: Who comes off the worst in the NCAA's punishment of six Ohio State football players? Answer: It's not even close, it's the NCAA. The more the organization tries to explain how it can keep six Buckeye players eligible for the Sugar Bowl, but not for the first five regular-season games -- well, the higher the pile of hypocrisy. That's especially true since Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan admits pressuring the NCAA to let Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron and the others play against Arkansas...Q: Why can't the players sell their Big Ten Championship rings and gold pants they received for winning the Michigan game? A: In the past, players sold tickets, jerseys and other items for outrageous sums to "friends of the program." The NCAA doesn't want someone paying Pryor $100,000 for his ring -- because that would be like paying the guy to play. Pryor received a total of $2,500 for his 2008 Big Ten title ring, his 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship trophy and his 2008 gold pants for beating Michigan. Solomon Thomas was paid $1,350 for his ring and gold pants and DeVier Posey pocketed $1,350. It seems like all of these guys could have made more if they put the items on eBay...Q: Do you believe the players when they told Jim Tressel they would not turn pro and return for 2011? A: Tressel said that's why he decided to play them in the Sugar Bowl. I believe that's what they told the coach at the end of 2010. I would be shocked if all six of them feel the same way as the NFL draft approaches. Q: Do you think the NCAA imposed the five-game penalty for next season because it thought some of the players would turn pro in the spring? A: Given how cynical their ruling is concerning the Sugar Bowl and bowing to pressure, what do you think?..." Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer 12/30/10
Rob Oller commentary: There's no profit in standing up to NCAA December 30, 2010 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "If I were a penniless Ohio State football player - and aren't they all? - before leaving early for the NFL draft, I would have left early for the Sugar Bowl, and profited by doing so. With NCAA approval, no less. In the out-of-whack world of NCAA rules enforcement, an athlete cannot sell his championship ring without suffering severe consequences but can pocket travel money to a bowl game. The Buckeyes' 85 scholarship players each were allotted an NCAA-approved $1,225.30 for travel expenses to New Orleans. Secure a cheap plane ticket - and some players found fares for less than $300 - or drive down, and the unused money is yours to keep. That kind of head-scratching logic is why Ohio State would be brave to stand up to the NCAA after it announced Dec. 23 that five players will receive five-game suspensions and a sixth will miss one game at the beginning of next season..."
Five Speak to Buckeye Nation Source: OSU Official Site 12/28/10
Statements by OSU's suspended players: "Statements made Tuesday by the five Ohio State football players who will be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for NCAA rules violations stemming from selling awards and uniforms and getting improper benefits from a Columbus tattoo parlor and its owner:..." Source: Associated Press 12/28/10
Buckeyes Apologize, Ask For Forgiveness: "All five Ohio State juniors who have suspended for the first five games of next season apologized for what they described as selfish actions. In a six-minute press conference at the team’s Woody Hayes Athletic Center, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, Dan Herron, Terrelle Pryor and Solomon Thomas took no questions and asked fans and alumni to forgive them for having sold Big Ten championship rings and other personal items during the past two years.
“I’m deeply sorry about the young, selfish mistakes that I’ve made a few years ago and bringing down this university and bring embarrassment to myself and the coaching staff and former players and alumni, especially the students and Buckeye Nation,” Pryor said. “My selfish acts were very young and immature. I’m just very deeply sorry about it. I didn’t mean to hurt anybody at all or bring anything down or bring embarrassment to our university because it’s the greatest university in the nation.
“Hopefully one day throughout my actions and also on the field hopefully I can get your forgiveness.”
In addition, redshirt freshman linebacker Jordan Whiting must sit out the first game of the 2011 season and repay $150 for having received discounted services. He did not issue a statement.
Of the five players, the quarterback must repay the highest total for benefits received: $2,500, according to an NCAA press release. Pryor sold his 2008 conference championship ring, a 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and his 2008 Gold Pants, a charm earned by players for beating rival Michigan.
Although each player offered his apology, one pledged to return for his senior season. That would be Posey, one of the team’s top two wide receivers. Reading from a statement, Posey spoke first and said it “hurts him deeply” that he put the university in this position.
“I promise to return for my senior year, to be a leader on and off the field and to receive my degree from The Ohio State University,” he said. “I promise to pride myself (and demonstrate) conduct in the manner that Buckeye Nation can be proud of. I hope that there is a day that you guys and Buckeye Nation and the former players and alumni can one day forgive us because we are truly remorseful and sorry. God bless and go Bucks.”
Posey must repay $1,250 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring and receiving discounted services for $50.
Herron was the only other one to bring a prepared statement but he did not appear to be reading from it line-by-line.
“My mistake and judgment (and) my selfishness are something that hurt me,” he said. “It has really embarrassed me. OSU is definitely a special place in my heart. I hope there will be a day I am forgiven. I just want to say I’m very sorry and I hope Buckeye Nation can forgive me.”
He must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes and also receiving discounted services valued at $150. Herron emerged as the team’s top running back this season and was poised to open next season as the starter provided he did not opt to leave early for the NFL draft.
Likewise Adams, a first-team all-Big Ten left tackle, latched onto a starting role this season and was poised for a big senior season after prepping at nearby Dublin Coffman. He must repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 championship ring.
“I want to start off letting you guys know how much this university means to me,” he said. “As a Columbus kid growing up, I’ve watched the Buckeyes on TV. It’s always been a dream to play here. When I did what I did I didn’t intend to hurt anybody or tarnish the great reputation that this university has. I realize that my actions were truly selfish. I just hope that there’s a way somehow that Buckeye Nation and the alumni can forgive me.”
Thomas, a reserve defensive lineman, must repay $1,505 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, his Gold Pants from the same year and receiving discounted services amounting to $155.
“I don’t think any of us realized how hard this would affect people around us,” he said. “It’s something that is life-changing. This has made us all really look at things very differently. We’re very remorseful to everyone around us. We realize we made a mistake.” Source: BuckeyeSports.com 12/28/10
Cleveland Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises and ESPN's Lou Holtz talk about the Ohio State players suspended for selling championship rings, jerseys and awards and receiving improper benefits. Source: ESPN 12/27/10
NCAA, Sugar Bowl defend OSU decision: "Not surprisingly, the NCAA's decision to allow five suspended Ohio State players to participate in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Arkansas has been greeted with a good deal of criticism. My take: punishment shouldn't be deferred, especially when the violations were committed more than a year ago. Both the NCAA and the Sugar Bowl's top official defended their positions Wednesday. The NCAA issued a statement in response to media criticism about the Ohio State situation and the Cam Newton drama at Auburn...Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan knows that a portion of Ohio State fans feel the suspended players shouldn't play in the Sugar Bowl and told The Dispatch, "I appreciate and fully understand the Midwestern values and ethics behind that, but I'm probably thinking of this from a selfish perspective." Hey, at least he's honest. I understand that a lot of folks benefit from the NCAA's decision, including the fans who will attend or tune into the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4. But a phrase like "preserve the integrity" probably doesn't apply to this situation..." Source: ESPN 12/29/10
Jim Tressel, Ohio State Can and Should Suspend Players for Sugar Bowl: "One simple question has resonated following the suspension of five Ohio State players for the first five games of next season: how can they be allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4? The answer is pretty simple, and it's wrapped up in the money that bowl games provide to conferences and institutions of higher academic pursuit. The NCAA would like the world to believe it's not, and in a posting on its website Wednesday said money was no factor in the decision and attributed bowl game rules to the "Division I Academics/Eligibility/Compliance Cabinet," which made its decision in 2004. Leave it to the NCAA to be the organization that makes Congress seem streamlined and efficient. Alas, we digress..." Source: San Francisco Chronicle 12/29/10
Sugar Bowl Eligibility a Conspiracy? Hardly: "By far the most incendiary portion of the NCAA ruling, the eligibility of the suspended players for the Sugar Bowl has been hotly debated by anyone with even a passing interest in college football. Some see it as an injustice, some as a conspiracy, and some see it as yet another example of NCAA inconsistency. The position taken most likely coincides with your opinion of Ohio State and the NCAA, but the facts of the case reveal a situation that suffers from poor timing and unclear procedure by the NCAA more than anything else...But, contrary to popular opinion, we do know that this ruling was not conjured up by the NCAA to protect the Sugar Bowl's marketing appeal. It is consistent with previously established NCAA policy, little known as it may be. The unique timing of the investigation simply pushed the issue to a conspicuous forefront, making it understandable how those with a predilection against the NCAA or Ohio State would see conspiracy in a situation like this. However, the NCAA is not the BCS, although journalists and fans alike often confuse the two. The NCAA only receives $12,000 from the Sugar Bowl, and that payment takes place no matter who plays in the game. There's no monetary incentive for the NCAA to conspire with Ohio State, and little reason to even entertain the idea...Kevin Lennon, NCAA Vice President of Academic and Member affairs, stated in the NCAA press release, "these are significant penalties based on findings and information provided by the university." Ohio State's total compliance with the NCAA should reflect well in the hearings process, and it's an advantage that Ohio State moved so quickly in their internal investigation. It may result in a reduction of penalties for at least a few of the players, and perhaps more..." Source: Along the Olentangy 12/28/10
Smith defends players' punishment December 27, 2010 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "Acknowledging the critics who wonder why the six players who broke NCAA rules are not suspended for the Sugar Bowl on Jan.4, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith argued that those players are paying a heavy price, regardless. "You're going to have people who feel like they should be out of school, period, and I've got a lot of that (feedback)," Smith said last night. "And then you have people who say, 'Hey, these were 18- or 19-year-old kids; they deserve another opportunity.' "So I'm not trying to justify anything, but all I know is this: When they come back from the bowl game, they've got to sit in the classroom. They've got to walk across campus. they've got to interact with some of those people who think they shouldn't even be in school. "There's a burden there, and a lot of people don't understand what it feels like to wake up one morning and pick up the paper and there you are on the front page with five of your teammates. "There's a lot of pressure here that is beyond playing in a bowl game."
That said, Smith said he does not know if coach Jim Tressel will levy any further sanctions on the six players...
The Buckeyes had a team meeting yesterday as they returned from a holiday break. They will practice today and Tuesday before leaving for New Orleans on Wednesday. "I don't know what Jim is going to do," Smith said. "We haven't talked about that." Smith said that Ohio State this week will officially inform the NCAA of its intent to appeal, and likely will file the appeal next week.
He admitted that would make it difficult for players who might be considering leaving for the NFL a year early, as their deadline to file for the draft is Jan.15 (they can withdraw by Jan.18 and retain their collegiate eligibility)..."
Ohio State football players suspended for next year apologize to teammates December 26, 2010 Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer - "The Ohio State Buckeyes returned to campus Sunday and met as a team for the first time since six players were suspended by the NCAA for the start of next season. According to two team sources, that meeting included an apology from the players involved and a discussion by the seniors on whether those suspended should play in the Sugar Bowl, as the NCAA has ruled they are allowed to do...One source said one scenario could include the sanctioned Buckeyes playing in the Sugar Bowl, but perhaps not starting. According to sources, the suspended players are scheduled to travel with the team to New Orleans, but the final decision on what happens...lies with Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. One source said one scenario could include the sanctioned Buckeyes playing in the Sugar Bowl, but perhaps not starting..."
Scandal fallout will hurt in bowl: "Lingering questions will dog Ohio State...Sorry, Arkansas, but you're not going to get Ohio State's best shot in the Sugar Bowl. The news that six players have been suspended for NCAA violations... shook the Buckeyes program to the core and from the top down. Athletics director Gene Smith said that Ohio State will appeal the NCAA sanctions. But that won't change the fact that there are deep feelings here - of betrayal, resentment and damaged relationships - that administrators, coaches and players are dealing with. More immediately, there are questions about how it will affect the Sugar Bowl. One school of thought says that Ohio State's bowl performance Jan. 4 won't be affected because the suspensions were delayed until next fall and the Buckeyes will be at full strength...But the Buckeyes today are not - and cannot be - the same team they were Dec. 6, the day before OSU officials first learned some players might have sold memorabilia (gold-pants fobs and championship rings). Even though all the Buckeyes will be physically present in New Orleans, there is a depth of psychological damage that cannot be compartmentalized easily and put away on a shelf...The only potential positive for OSU - and for Arkansas, hoping to get the Buckeyes' best shot - is the possibility that OSU players use the scandal as an internal rallying cry. Adversity can bring a team together. But in this case, with so much emotion and uncertainty swirling around, Ohio State won't be the same for a long time - and certainly not by Jan. 4..." Source: Columbus Dispatch 12/26/10
Ohio State, NCAA, 'Shameful Six' are embarrassments: "...Two days before Christmas, six Buckeye players played the role of the Grinch. They, along with the other parties involved, have completely embarrassed themselves. The "Shameful Six" should be embarrassed...I wasn't born yesterday. Neither were the players. You'll never convince me that the players truly thought it was OK to sell those items...The NCAA should also be embarrassed...Scandal-heavy and money-hungry college football is becoming more of an embarrassment by the day..." Source: The Lantern (OSU) 12/24/10
"It’s disappointing, it’s a shame and it hurts the program, puts us in a bad light and as a former player you don’t like seeing that. (Never heard of anyone selling team memorabilia), especially not your gold pants. You don’t part way with those, that’s just bad." - Former Buckeye and current NYJet Nick Mangold Source: NewsDay.com 12/24/10
Ohio State shouldn't let offenders play in bowl: "When all else fails, protect the program. That's my message to Gene Smith and Jim Tressel and anyone else who has a huge say in how The Mess moves forward. It's not actually my message. Michael Corleone first delivered it in The Godfather when cementing the importance of family interests. Emotions cannot be trusted. Feelings get in the way when there is a job to do, so Michael decided non-blood relative Tom Hagen would not be part of moving the business forward. "You're out, Tom." Corleone went on to speak words which must be put into practice as Ohio State moves forward from the program-damaging decision by Terrelle Pryor and five other players to accept improper benefits, resulting in a five-game suspension at the start of next season, but no Sugar Bowl suspension. "It's not personal. It's business." Tressel needs to call the six players into his office, close the door and lay it out. "You're out, Terrelle. Come back next season if you want, but no bowl game."..." Source: Columbus Dispatch 12/25/10
OSU players should have been suspended from bowl game: "Morality play: Let me get this straight. Several football players from THE OSU sold some stuff that they owned, and the NCAA suspended them for five games. But not for the Sugar Bowl, which is a game. The hypocrisy just oozes from events of the past week in Columbus. If Jim Tressel and Gene Smith really cared about sending a message, they’d suspend the players for the bowl game. Isn’t the most important thing the Big Ten? Well, the fifth game in 2011 is against Michigan State. But, hey, OSU wouldn’t want to upset the power-brokers who could invite them to future BCS games, would they? And do these young Buckeyes — who will leave college free of debt, unlike most students — really think we’ll buy the excuse that they sold their trinkets to help their families? C’mon. They wanted some walking-around money, which I can understand, and got caught breaking rules."..." Source: Dayton Daily News 12/25/10
"Flat out ridiculous, I can honestly say that. To put yourself in that kind of situation, you just don’t do it. I don’t know the facts, I don’t know what happened. Why? That’s all I can ask, why? At this point you don’t go on doing anything to jeopardize your career and right now
that’s pretty much what’s happened with those guys." - Former Buckeye and current NYJet Santonio Holmes Source: NewsDay.com 12/24/10
Video: Kirk Herbstreit Speaks Out Against Terrelle Pryor: "...Today on Colin Cowherd's radio show, he spoke with Kirk Herbstreit about Terrelle Pryor and these NCAA violations. While I would like to hit Cowherd in the face repeatedly with a board with a rusty nail stuck in it, I thought the interview was interesting. I also typically find Herbstreit to be arrogant, hypocritical, and wouldn't mind throwing an unopened beer bottle at his grill, but that's besides the point. Take a look at the video below and notice some of the comments Herbie offers on Terrelle Pryor. This is not the first time he's ripped the Buckeye QB either..." Source: Cleveland Leader 12/23/10
Really? OSU players didn't know the rules?: "Earlier this season, one of Ohio State’s football players was asked which of his teammates was the smartest guy on the team. He did not pick Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, Solomon Thomas or Jordan Whiting. Now we know why..." Source: Lima News 12/23/10
3-point stance: Pryor gets an 'F' in tradition: Ivan Maisel writes: "1. Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor sold the trinket of gold pants he received after the Buckeyes’ 2008 victory over Michigan. For 75 years, those pants have been awarded to Buckeyes who beat Wolverines. John Hicks, the Ohio State offensive tackle who won the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award in 1973, called the gold pants “a badge of honor.” Hicks is the exception. Most modern players believe tradition is something for the people in the stands. Pryor may have lost the Buckeye fans forever. But he got his money." Source: ESPN 12/24/10
Tokens of Ohio State football traditions apparently are for sale December 23, 2010 Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer - Bill Livingston writes: "The greatest things about the Big Ten and its flagship university, Ohio State, are their traditions. Thursday the Buckeyes fans found out how many of them were for sale...The tattoo parlor discounts, which were the first part of the scandal to become public knowledge, seem insignificant, compared to the profits the players turned as athletes. The most lasting scar will not be tats on players' bodies but the graffiti Pryor and others scrawled over the things alumni most cherish...Traditions are the ties that bind players..."
Timeline of “Tattoo-Gate” Investigation : Dec. 19 Ohio State officially self-reports secondary violations to the NCAA, initially suspending Terrelle Pryor, Boom Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, Solomon Thomas and Jordan Whiting for the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Dec. 22 NCAA rendered decision, reinstating all six players for the Sugar Bowl, but suspending five of them for the first five games of next season, including Pryor, Posey, Herron and Adams..." Source: The Ozone 12/23/10
Ohio State mess fuels notion NCAA is making up rules as it goes along: The NCAA can send out all the press releases it wants. It can trot out obscure bylaws. It can send its new enforcement chief on an "outreach" tour, as it did earlier this month when newly appointed vice president of enforcement Julie Roe Lach visited several media outlets, including SI.com. None of it will change the perception -- fueled further by Thursday's Ohio State suspensions -- that the organization is making up the rules as it goes along. You have every reason to be puzzled as to why five Ohio State players -- most notably stars Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron and DeVier Posey -- will be suspended for the first five games of next season for selling various rings, awards and apparel, yet will be allowed to play in the Jan. 4 Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. If you're an Ohio State fan, you have every reason to be confused about why former star Troy Smith was suspended for the 2004 Alamo Bowl for receiving $500 from a booster while the aforementioned five will suit up despite pocketing between $1,000 to $2,500 from some other nefarious figure..." Source: SI.com 12/23/10
Double standards surround OSU's 'Suspended Six': "...So it’s OK for Ohio State and other universities to profit off players by selling game-worn jerseys and equipment, but the players themselves can’t profit by selling awards or rings that actually belong to them? Seems like a double standard to me. What kind of message is the NCAA sending by allowing the players to remain eligible for the Sugar Bowl? The NCAA, Sugar Bowl, sponsors and television network want the best game possible, and that means the Suspended Six need to play. But isn’t the NCAA telling the players, ‘We’re going to use you for financial profit and ratings, then you can go away for five games next year.’ Or go away altogether?..." Source: Dayton Daily News 12/27/10
CFN Analysis - The Ohio State Suspensions: Here’s the problem in yet another silly and bizarre ruling by the NCAA. The organization has so many weird rules and bylaws that it’s sort of making it up and interpreting...Why wasn’t the punishment, say, 6 games? Oct 8 @ Nebraska ..." Source: CollegeFootballNews.com 12/23/10
Feigned ignorance equals bliss, full bowl roster for Ohio State: The stereotype of the big, dumb jock is not dead. The NCAA is telling us this loudly and boldly. From the organization that gave us Cam Didn't Know comes Five Football Student-Athletes From Ohio State Who Didn't Know. Incredibly, that was the NCAA's explanation for not suspending for the Sugar Bowl five Buckeyes who sold their souls -- or came darn close. They didn't know it was wrong to sell their jerseys, trophies and keepsakes. As it stands, the five players will miss the first five games of the 2011 season for selling awards, gifts and uniform gear and getting various extra benefits. A sixth must sit out the first game of 2011 for lesser violations..." Source: CBSSports.com 12/24/10
"The NCAA is amazing. Every time you turn around, they come up with something new to ensure that the young men that have poured their hearts and souls and energy and intellect into their craft are continually kept at a disadvantage when everybody else around them is running to the bank. There's no crime here. None. They're not involved with agents. They didn't steal anything. They didn't borrow anything from anybody. It was theirs. Nobody told them it 'almost belongs to you.' It belonged to them." - Ohio State WR DeVier Posey's Mother commenting on suspensions. Source: Columbus Dispatch 12/24/10 - Posey's mom blames NCAA for players' money plight
Hypocrisy is put on display by suspensions: "...The hypocrisy of the system was as visible as the sight of the two men conducting the news conference: football coach Jim Tressel, who will make almost $3.9million this season, and athletic director Gene Smith, who is being paid $1million. If you think about this picture, it makes you laugh until you cry. Two guys making almost $5million between them because of college football were actually sitting there discussing the wrongdoing of an offensive lineman (Mike Adams) who sold his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,000? The gross unfairness of this creeps me out...somebody, somewhere has to notice how ridiculous this all is, how just about everyone involved with college football is raking in gobs of cash except those who are the reason all that cash is available for the raking..." Source: Columbus Dispatch 12/24/10
Spare me your false indignation: "In a world where helping your father try to extort $180,000 gets you a Heisman and a NC shot, it seems disingenuous to suspend a player for selling his school ring just so that he could have enough money to buy gas and take a girl to the movies. So spare me the bumper sticker outrage..." Source: Men of the Scarlet and Gray 12/23/10
NCAA ruling defies common sense: ESPN Pat Forde (with video): "Thursday at Ohio State, we learned that five players -- many of them stars -- didn't know it was a no-no to sell championship rings, game gear and personal awards for cash. Why didn't they know? According to the NCAA release, the players "did not receive adequate rules education" from the school at the time of the transgressions, which occurred in 2009. That plausible (or implausible, if you prefer) deniability will allow all five to play in the Buckeyes' Allstate Sugar Bowl showdown with Arkansas on Jan. 4. So there you have it, future NCAA rules breakers of America (and your parents). Go for the gold. When you get caught, shrug and say, "Why, I had no idea." Blame it on your dad and/or a negligent compliance staff at your university..." Source: ESPN 12/23/10
Suspended Buckeyes should miss bowl: "When dealing out punishment to athletes, don’t apply it to the current season. Apply it only to future seasons — if the players are even still around then. That’s apparently the NCAA’s new hypocritical guidelines for punishment and reinstatement of players found in violation of its rules...When dealing out punishment to athletes, don’t apply it to the current season. Apply it only to future seasons — if the players are even still around then. That’s apparently the NCAA’s new hypocritical guidelines for punishment and reinstatement of players found in violation of its rules..." Source: Fox Sports 12/24/10
Players Claim Ignorance, but Common Sense Should prevail: "The five Ohio State players who will miss the first five games of next season for receiving improper benefits are eligible for the Sugar Bowl for one reason, and really one reason only. Money...Is it fair? Probably not. It doesn’t seem right that Ohio State can make millions of dollars selling merchandise while the players themselves, many of which come from families well below the poverty line, don’t make a single dollar. Even Gene Smith is in favor of more handouts...What’s most disappointing is that all of this could have been avoided simply by following the rules. It’s hard lesson for five teenagers, but one that’s better learned now..." Source: The Ozone 12/24/10
Ohio State’s players not stupid, but they are selfish: "...1. Ohio State’s players aren’t stupid, but they are selfish: So a bunch of Ohio State players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, will miss the first five games of the 2011 season because they sold and exchanged stuff for money and services. That’s a pretty stiff penalty and it’s likely a bunch of those guys will just turn pro and never serve the suspension. But please spare me the hand wringing and the gnashing of teeth about how the system is unfair. Two points:
**–It is an unfair system, yadda, yadda, yadda: We know that. We have always known that. There is a reasonable argument to be made that athletes should be able to generate some kind of income based on what they do and the value they provide to the school. But you don’t get to break the rule and THEN make the argument. Then all you’re doing is trying to rationalize behavior that has hurt the team to cover your own butt. Sometimes in life you have to be selfish. But admit that you did it for selfish reasons. Admit that you wanted the money or needed the money or felt you DESERVED the money. Then accept the consequences and move on.
**–I do not want to hear another adult say that the kids didn’t know the rules. Gene Smith is the athletics director at Ohio State. I have great deal respect for him and consider him to be a friend. But I can’t listen to another adult attribute rules breaking to a lack of knowledge of the rules.
Again, there is a good argument to be made about the validity and the fairness of the rule but here’s the deal. My mother just turned 78 years old and she knows a player can’t sell a jersey why he’s still in school. If you let these guys play in the Sugar Bowl because you don’t want to hurt a multi-million dollar game at this late date, then just say so. If the players thought the rule was stupid and felt they deserved something more because of their status, then just say so. But don’t plead ignorance. It just doesn’t fly any more..." Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution 12/27/10
Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State player suspensions for next season instead of Sugar Bowl don't add up: "One of the reasons the NCAA cited in its decision to allow Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four other players to play in the Sugar Bowl - despite suspending them for the first five games of next season - was the fact the players did not know they were breaking rules when they sold Big Ten championship rings, awards and gold pants charms they earned by beating Michigan to local tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife in exchange for tatts...But there are conflicting stories coming out of Columbus, many chronicled by SportsbyBrooks.com. Just last month, Pryor told the Cleveland Plain Dealer he "wasn't worried about money and stuff like that. My mom works a little bit and I can get some of her money and use that money I get here from (scholarship checks.)." The same day the suspensions were announced, Zack Meisel and James Oldham, two enterprising reporters for the student newspaper The Lantern, contacted Thaddeus Gibson, who started for the Buckeyes from 2007 through '09 before suiting up for the San Francisco 49ers, who told them he was told fairly often by Smith and the coaches not to sell any personal items. Gibson, who had more tattoos than any player on the team during his undergrad days, told The Lantern, "Yeah, they talked about it a lot." Gibson had tattoo work done at Fine Line Ink in Columbus - the establishment in question that led to the suspensions - as an undergrad. All of this makes the cynic in us wonder whether the Big Ten, which has lost nine straight bowl games to SEC teams, was more concerned about the battering its image might take if the Buckeyes put a watered-down product on the field against Arkansas than allowing the sanctions to kick in immediately..." Source: New York Daily News 12/27/10
NCAA ruling against Buckeyes should be overturned: If ever there was a creative NCAA reprimand for receiving improper benefits, that's one for the books. Good thing the guys didn't hold a yard sale on The Ohio State University campus in Columbus, right? It would be the mother of all scandals. It's almost like OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor and his five Buckeye teammates are being spanked and sent to their rooms next fall - after getting their hands "caught in the tattoo cookie jar" - so to speak - this season. Really, what crimes did the capitalistic six, as they are called in some circles, commit? Actually none to speak of...Your coach Jim Tressel can earn almost $4 million and athletic director Gene Smith, $1 million, this season. But YOU student/athlete can't even collect one penny. What a joke..." Source: Marietta Times 12/27/10
OSU violations impact past, present, future: "...There's a lot to discuss, so I'm going to break things up into categories: SMITH'S ECONOMIC ARGUMENT...While a lot of folks are jumping on the tattoo thing, this situation was about money. "The discount on tattoos is not as big as the other pieces," Smith said. "The cash was relative to family needs. The bigger violation is the cash." I don't buy the fact that the players didn't know that their actions violated NCAA rules. Smith and the other Ohio State officials can fall on their sword as much as they want, but these guys had to know the consequences...THE NFL QUESTION Before Thursday's announcement, Ohio State didn't seem like a team that would be heavily impacted by juniors entering the NFL draft. That has changed...SELLING TRADITION The worst part of this mess is what the Ohio State players sold to the individual now under federal investigation. It's one thing to sell a jersey or a pair of cleats. Those are individual things. But selling Big Ten championship rings and Gold Pants (given to Ohio State players for beating archrival Michigan) won't sit well with Buckeyes fans...WHAT'S NEXT Ohio State reconvenes as a team Sunday and will fly to New Orleans on Wednesday. Today's announcement certainly could be a distraction, or it could bring the team closer together. Smith sounded confident this incident is isolated to these players and to the individual under investigation. This isn't a criminal case or one related to agents or boosters. The person under investigation isn't connected with Ohio State. "There are no other NCAA violations around this case," Smith said. "We do not have a systemic problem in our program. Tressel said it's good he'll have a few days at home to think about the situation before seeing the players on Sunday. "These guys feel terrible," Tressel said. "If you said go run 50 miles before you come to practice tomorrow, they would go run 50 miles."..." Source: ESPN 12/23/10
Everybody Loses: "Ohio State was rocked by suspensions to six players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, on Thursday afternoon, but does the punishment fit the crime? In this column, BuckeyeSports.com staff writer Jeff Svoboda says no, saying it's an unfortunate reality that everybody leaves this affair in the wrong..." Source: BuckeyeSports.com 12/23/10
Jim Tressel & Gene Smith Football Suspension Announcement Source: OSU Official Site 12/23/10
Terrelle Pryor, four others suspended for first five games of 2011 for receiving improper benefits December 23, 2010 Source: The Lantern (OSU) - "All players eligible for Sugar Bowl; university will appeal...The NCAA has suspended Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four other athletes for the first five games of the 2011 season "for selling awards, gifts and university apparel and receiving improper benefits in 2009." The players are eligible for the Sugar Bowl, in which OSU will face Arkansas on Jan. 4 in New Orleans.
Pryor, Dan Herron, Mike Adams, DeVier Posey and Solomon Thomas also "must repay money and benefits ranging in value from $1,000 to $2,500. The repayments must be made to a charity," the NCAA announced in a press release Thursday.
"While we believe sanctions should be rendered, we do believe they are severe," athletic director Gene Smith said at a press conference Thursday.
According to the release, Pryor must repay $2,500 that he received for his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, a 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and his 2008 Gold Pants, given to players for beating Michigan.
The NCAA reinstated the athletes for the Sugar Bowl on the basis that the athletes "did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, in the release.
"We were not explicit with these young men that you cannot resell items that we give you," Smith said. "They stated in their interviews with us and with the NCAA that they felt those items were theirs, that they owned them, that they could sell them to help their families. … We were not explicit and that's our responsibility to be explicit."
Adams, the starting left tackle, must repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring.
Herron, the starting running back, must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and receiving discounted services worth $150.
Posey, a starting wide receiver, must repay $1,250 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,200 and receiving discounted services totaling $50.
Thomas, a reserve defensive lineman, must repay $1,505 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,000, his 2008 Gold Pants for $350 and receiving discounted services worth $155.
The discounted services stem from players receiving tattoos in exchange for autographs.
"They got a perceived discount on tattoos – that's what the NCAA felt," Smith said. "As an athlete, you can't use your persona to get discounts."
Linebacker Jordan Whiting also must sit out the first game of the 2011 season and repay $150.
Smith said the university plans to submit "mitigating circumstances for the NCAA to consider to hopefully reduce the number of games" the players are suspended. "I can't speculate on the appeal," Smith said. "But I think we can build a case and we'll begin doing that next week. But I can't speculate what the outcome will be, but obviously I hope there will be reductions."
Quarterback Troy Smith was suspended for the Alamo Bowl in 2004 and the opening game of the 2005 season after accepting $500 from a booster.
"The biggest disappointment I have is knowing there are mitigating circumstances in all of our lives," OSU coach Jim Tressel said. "We have to seek the right solutions, (which) are to come to the right people who can maybe provide a direction we could go."
Gene Smith said the U.S. Attorney's Office contacted OSU on Dec. 7 after finding the items while conducting an unrelated investigation. The office thought the items might have been stolen, Smith said. The university interviewed the athletes on Dec. 16, at which point the athletes explained how they didn't know they couldn't sell the items, Smith said. "They were honest, forthright, told the truth and were remorseful," Smith said. Following the interviews, Smith said OSU contacted the Big Ten and NCAA offices to inform them the university was in the process of filing a self-report on a "secondary level one infraction." "We sent it in on (Dec. 19) and declared our student-athletes ineligible on that report," he said.
The NCAA, not OSU, handed down the suspensions. Smith said the university did not suggest self-imposed sanctions to the NCAA. The players were informed of the consequences via phone Thursday morning, Smith said.
"We as coaches feel the buck stops here," Tressel said. "We're the ones who need to make things even more crystal clear."
For their first five games next year, the Buckeyes play Akron, Toledo, at Miami (Fla.), Colorado and Michigan State.
Pryor, Herron, Posey and Adams – all juniors– could look into leaving early for the NFL Draft, rather than spend nearly half of their senior seasons sidelined.
Pryor, Herron and Posey have accounted for 44 of the team's 53 offensive touchdowns this season. Adams was named first-team All-Big Ten.
College juniors and redshirt sophomores must declare their eligibility for the 2011 NFL Draft by Jan. 15..."
Timeline of NCAA violations committed by Ohio State football players: Early 2009 -- Between the end of the 2008-09 season and early in the 2009-10 season -- Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas sell memorabilia, including 2008 Big Ten championship rings, Herron's jersey, Pryor's Gold Pants for beating Michigan and Pryor's 2009 Fiesta Bowl Sportsmanship Award for a total of $7,050 to the owner of a Columbus tattoo parlor. Herron, Posey, Thomas and linebacker Jordan Whiting also receive discounted tattoos..." Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer 12/23/10
Here's how Ohio State will try to replace suspended players next season: The prospect of a suspension lasting through as many as the first five games of the 2011 regular season certainly changed the discussion about the NFL futures of the Ohio State juniors. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, left tackle Mike Adams and receiver DeVier Posey could be more likely to leave school now and even a player like center Mike Brewster, who was not involved in the suspensions at all, might weight his options differently if a lot of juniors teammates leave. Even if the juniors in question stay, the Buckeyes will need to find solutions for at least a few games. Here's how they'll do it..." Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer 12/23/10
The Mailbox: OSU suspensions lead to the airing of many grievances: "...Mr. Stein: The NCAA and OSU swung and missed on this memorabilia-selling scandal, exposing themselves as the money-grubbing enablers they are. I realize it's all about the money, but these players should have been suspended immediately. Instead, they will play in the bowl game and will return to the team before the Nebraska game next season. Ticket sales and TV ratings took priority over doing the right thing. If these guys are selling the championship rings and other awards they have earned, why are they even playing the games? Very disappointing.
Editor: I have a question for Pryor, Herron, Adams, Posey and Thomas. Was it worth it to your teammates? School? Coaches? Basically, you betrayed them for your selfish wants! Regardless of whether the NCAA rules are moronic, you knew them, and yet, you broke them. I guess one good thing came out of this - we will not have to suffer through the offseason and the next season on the "Pryor for Heisman" campaign! That has been effectively put to bed!
Editor: Smith and Tressel, man up. The only way OSU "wins" the Sugar Bowl is without our Fab Five and then outscoring Arkansas. Anything else is a loss!
Mr. Stein: The OSU football players are only guilty of one thing; not being very smart! They should have told the NCAA that their fathers sold their memorabilia and paid for the tattoos, that they as players knew anything about it. Seemed to work for certain other BCS teams!..." Source: Columbus Dispatch 12/26/10
Die-hard fans might utter "tsk, tsk" that a Florida Gator parted with his 2008 championship ring or that former Ohio State tackle Ivan Douglas sold his ring honoring the Buckeyes' perfect season in 2002. Both were for sale on eBay last week by brokers who said they had bought the items from the players.
The NCAA, however, doesn't care about the rings being for sale unless they found their way to the marketplace before the athletes ended their college careers.
When athletes sign on to play college sports, they forfeit the right to hawk their stuff while they are eligible to play. Athletes can't sell awards or uniforms. They can't sell their iPods, Xbox 360s or high-school letter jackets if someone buys them for the celebrity factor. They can't say they prefer Graeter's Ice Cream over Dairy Queen.
"The only ones who can't make a dime are the kids," said Richard G. Johnson, a Cleveland lawyer who has represented two athletes in separate lawsuits against the NCAA. "Nobody has commercialized sports more than the NCAA and the BCS conferences."
The rule exists, said OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg, to keep the playing field level. Without it, smaller schools could never compete with the perennial star power of colleges such as Ohio State.
"We'd get a recruiting advantage," Wallenberg said, if players could sell their uniforms at a higher price by playing at Ohio State than at, say, Bowling Green.
What athletes can and can't do with their stuff became an issue after five Ohio State players admitted that they sold championship rings valued at less than $325, uniforms and other trinkets. They face five-game suspensions next season.
Critics of big-time college athletics say the rule is the ultimate hypocrisy from a $5-billion-a-year industry that pays college coaches multimillion-dollar salaries, fills university accounts with revenue from tickets and merchandise, and supports a nonprofit organization called the NCAA, which reaps $705million in income, according to its most-recent federal income-tax return.
Nearly 85 percent of the NCAA's revenue comes from television rights to broadcast Division I basketball games. The Bowl Championship Series, or BCS, controls TV contracts for football's bowl games.
The NCAA also takes a cut of sales of video games that use the likenesses of its current and former athletes.
Ohio State and Texas top the charts in how much money they earn from the sale of university merchandise. On average, OSU brings in about $8.5 million a year from the 11percent cut it gets for every item sold, said Rick Van Brimmer, director of trademark and licensing.
An Ohio University professor of sports administration called the rule "borderline ridiculous."
"From an amateur standpoint, it's a fraud," said B. David Ridpath, who also has worked for several athletic departments. "I sold all my stuff - championship rings, sweat suits - from Marshall, and no one cared."
But he was an employee, not an athlete.
"How many other players are going, 'Oh, my gosh' right now?" Ridpath said. "They should be allowed to sell their stuff. These kids are making a lot of money for the university. These kids shouldn't be scrambling for money."
NCAA Bylaw 16.1.4 was revised in 2003 to include a ban on the sale of awards received for athletics participation. Some call it the "Bulldog Bylaw" as a nod to the nine University of Georgia football players whose sale of their 2002 SEC championship rings prompted the rule.
In August, Georgia suspended a football player for four games after learning he sold his game jersey.
The NCAA deferred all questions about the profiteering rule to Ohio State. Ohio State said it was the NCAA's job to explain how and why the rule is enforced.
Ohio State tries to police the rule with occasional Internet sweeps of auction sites. The Dispatch found two items for sale last week from the 2009 Michigan game: a pair of shoes and a helmet. Both items, the seller posted, belonged to current players. Ohio State said that it is investigating." Source: Columbus Dispatch 1/2/11
The Two Minutes that Brought Down the Lines: Not sure Herbstreit earned himself any hometown love with this. Once the Dispatch and WTVN reports were out there, he obviously had to discuss it, but we're not sure he had to go and name names. End result: Within minutes of finishing, lines came down for the Sugar Bowl at nearly every major sportsbook.
TatGate: The Sequel: These are the most challenging days -- when we wake up and there's absolutely nothing Buckeye-related to talk about. What's that? Oh, we're still talking about tattoos? Great. After having his integrity impugned by at least one prominent colony of the Ohio State internets1, Dave Biddle's scoop of an investigation related to football players allegedly trading tattoos for autographs grew some legs when it was confirmed late Wednesday by the Dispatch (based on entirely independent sources). AD Gene Smith isn't returning calls, but expect Ohio State to release a statement at least acknowledging "an internal investigation" sometime today because other mainstream outlets jumped in once the Dispatch had vetted the situation. Within hours, local evening news were leading with the story, and then the AP, ESPN and later Kirk Herbstreit, weighed in, fanning the flames.
The bottom line is that there's more we don't know than what we know -- and it's not even really close right now. Some encouraging signs are starting to trickle out via Twitter, like Terrelle Pryor breaking three days of radio silence by flat-out stating that he paid for his own tattoos, center Michael Brewster vouching for the hometown parlors that handled his ink, and finally, linebacker Brian Rolle, clearly annoyed, telling people to stop asking him about the rumors because there's nothing to them (politely paraphrased). True, Christian Bryant said as much two days ago before the latest news hit, but he's a freshman and is likely in the dark on some of this. Pryor and Rolle's tweets were enlightening for two different reasons: Pryor, who claims to talk to JT every day, would probably not have the green light to make a statement like that if he were a target in the investigation or if the university was worried about his eligibility and Rolle, speaking as a senior captain, would surely be aware of something if chaos was coming.
So, what do we know and what can we expect? As mentioned above, there should be a statement released by the athletic department today, even if it's brief and sheds absolutely no light on the situation. Friday is the best time to break bad news and tomorrow is a special kind of a Friday, in that it's a Thursday ahead of a three day weekend for the biggest holiday in the United States. We also know that this is an OSU investigation and not an NCAA investigation, which is an important distinction. If this were an NCAA investigation, there's a good chance more bad news would follow, but a university investigation is something that's initiated instantly as a precaution in case something happened and does not, in itself, mean something is afoul..." Source: Eleven Warriors 12/23/10
#TatGate nothing more than a 4 hour digital meltdown: One day after Buckeye twitter armageddon, #TatGate is thankfully nothing more than a four hour digital meltdown. When Dave Biddle, a guy that rarely ever tweets, dropped the "Could be some bad news" bomb and then followed it up with details of players meeting with compliance for getting free tattoos in exchange for autographs, responses ranged from thinking the worst (Bauserbombs in the Sugar Bowl) to cruel wishful thinking (perhaps it was the guy that jumps offsides all of the time). Biddle later backtracked somewhat and at least one current player took to Twitter to deny the rumor, so the storm has passed. We think.
Biddle will likely be a little more careful about what he decides to drop on Twitter without additional sources going forward, but what's really interesting to me is the cred war that quickly escalated in the aftermath. Scout/Buckeye Sports Bulletin, the Hatfield to Bucknuts' McCoy, got their DPRK-on in their forums and shot down the rumor later on Twitter. Winning is defined by scoops or destroying the scoops of others it seems.
Since the news broke, I've heard something similar to what Biddle reported from two reliable sources, but at this point in time, it's safe to say nobody knows what the outcome will be. My guess is nothing will come out of it because the rumors will be just that, rumors, or because getting inked doesn't exactly leave a paper trail for the NCAA. If $180,000 for pops keeps you eligible, I'm not sweating this.
Even if this does have some legs, that means players under Tressel have filed a fake $1,000 police report (Clarett), accepted a couple hundred dollar handshake (Smith) and now, free tattoos. That laughing you hear is the SEC collectively scoffing at small time northern football. Source: Eleven Warriors 12/22/10
One player tweeted: @CB_2 Man #BuckeyeNation relax! I'm paying for my tattoo. I'm not an idiot. I watch tv just like you guys.
NCAA Leaves OSU In No-Win Situation: The NCAA operates sans logic at times, as it proved to the nation with its handing of the Cameron Newton case at Auburn. A father can shop his son to the highest bidder, admit to doing so, but if the player lies and says he knew nothing about it, all is good. That’s an outstanding precedent – the NCAA should be proud of itself. I’m sure that won’t cause a slew of problems in the future with every player busted for taking money invoking the “Cam Newton excuse.”
However, the decision the NCAA made in Ohio State’s “Tatgate” investigation might have been even-more void of reason, if that is possible.
The NCAA decided that the violations by OSU’s Mike Adams, Boom Herron, DeVier Posey, Terrelle Pryor and Solomon Thomas were so egregious that they hammered them with a five-game suspension. That’s a slap on the wrist in Major League Baseball. In college football, it’s almost half a season.
However, in its infinite wisdom, the NCAA announces that the players in question are eligible to play in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4 against Arkansas. Remember, this wasn’t Ohio State making the decision; it was an NCAA ruling. Therefore, the NCAA in essence decided to “suspend” the suspension.
My 3-year-old daughter could find holes in that logic.
The bottom line now is that Ohio State is put in a horrible, no-win situation. If these players are suspended, they should be suspended effective immediately. If the NCAA thinks they did so much wrong, they should not be permitted to play in one of the top-five bowl games this season in college football.
Instead of Ohio State perhaps getting some sympathy for the harsh penalties (on the heels of the Newton look-away by the NCAA) most people are saying the Buckeyes are “getting a break” from the NCAA because Adams, Herron, Posey, Pryor, Thomas and Jordan Whiting (suspended for the first game next season) are allowed to play in the bowl game.
In fact, there are even ardent Buckeye fans who think OSU head coach Jim Tressel should take it upon himself to suspend the six players for the bowl game. Our “West Coast Correspondent” Ben Koo started a poll on our premium Front Row message board and the results would open a lot of eyes. Koo wondered if OSU should step up and self-suspend the six players for the Sugar Bowl, and after about 200 votes it’s split down the middle. Yes, half of Buckeye Nation wants these guys out for the Sugar Bowl. That gives you an idea of just how ridiculous the NCAA ruled in this instance.
Let’s say Tressel would suspend the six players, including four key offensive starters. Could you imagine him explaining to the 24 seniors on the team (none of which did anything wrong) that he’s going to greatly-affect their chances of winning their final collegiate game – even though the NCAA ruled the players were eligible – just to look good for public perception? How do you think guys like Justin Boren, Bryant Browning, Chimdi Chekwa, Cam Heyward, Jermale Hines, Ross Homan, Dexter Larimore, Brian Rolle and Dane Sanzenbacher would react to that? (Yep, you better duck.)
It would be different if the NCAA ruled the six players were suspended effectively immediately. Then the Buckeyes would’ve had no choice but to move on and play the hand they were dealt. But are you really going to explain to the above seniors why you are starting Joe Bauserman at quarterback instead of Terrelle Pryor just because you want some random writer to say nice things about the program? Are you also going to explain why your consensus first-team All-Big Ten left tackle and tailback have to stay home even though the governing body of college athletics says they are good to go? (And don't forget that Tressel and every administrator at Ohio State strongly believe that the NCAA penalities are overly harsh. It would be different if they felt their players had committed a crime or something. While I fully believe the players knew they were doing something wrong, one can make the argument that they were selling items that belonged to them and they honestly didn't know they were doing anything wrong. Again, I think they knew what they were doing was wrong, but it certainly doesn't warrant a five-game suspension, and Tressel agrees. So, with that knowledge, you can see why the coach would be even-more reluctant to impose a self-suspension on top of the already-harsh penalties that OSU will appeal.)
Again, that’s the definition of a “no-win” situation. If you suspend the six players, then you penalize the 24 seniors on the team and highly-reduce your chances of winning the game. Then the national media would have a field day talking about OSU moving to 0-10 in bowl games against SEC schools, barely glossing over the fact that four key starters were suspended. (Remember all the sidebars after the 2007 national championship game against LSU about the slew of questionable 15-yard penalties against OSU and the fact that the game was played in the Tigers’ backyard? Of course you don’t.)
On the other hand, if you play the six players in question and win, everyone says, “OSU shouldn’t have played those guys; they should have been held out. It's a tainted victory.”
But if you play Adams, Herron, Posey and Pryor and lose, everyone says, “OSU lost yet another bowl game to an SEC team even though they played guys that should have been left home.”
So, thanks NCAA. Not just for the harsh ruling (it should have been more like two or three games) but for making the absurd decision to suspend the suspension. Just when you think your organization couldn’t be mocked more after botching the Newton case, you come up with a scheme like this.
“Hey, let’s suspend these guys five games, but suspend the suspension. And then we’ll say some B.S. about ‘It was because they weren’t educated properly.’ Hopefully no one sees through the fact that we’re contradicting ourselves there, because if they weren’t educated properly and we’re the ones making that excuse for them, they shouldn’t be suspended at all. But we’re the NCAA, where logic is always on vacation.”
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Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions on the Ohio State suspension debate, so I thought I’d weigh in with mine. Here are what I see as the Top 7 effects of the player suspensions at Ohio State:
1) Ohio State will have a new quarterback at the helm starting in 2011. Regardless of whether or not Terrelle Pryor declares for the draft or the NCAA reduces the penalties on Ohio State’s suspended players, we’re going to see a new face in the pocket to start the season next year. Speculation’s rampant on whether that will be a more seasoned backup like Kenny Guiton, or arguably the No. 1 dual-threat high school QB recruit in the nation in Braxton Miller. Our colleagues over at JJHuddle.com believe that “Miller is a better QB overall (than Pryor) – right now.” If that's the case, there's little reason NOT to start Miller.
2) Ohio State will likely lose left tackle Mike Adams, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey and quarterback Terrelle Pryor to the NFL draft. Since no one’s sure when the NCAA will consider Ohio State’s appeal to reduce the penalties on the Ohio State stars, they have little incentive to stay – particularly since they’d have miss half a season and battle some new blood for their starting spots after they come back from suspension. In my mind, the ship has sailed on their senior years.
3) I’m going to go against the herd, but I believe this is finally the year Ohio State will knock off a SEC team in a bowl game. Pryor, Posey Herron and Adams CAN’T afford to lose this game. They’re going to come out playing harder than would have if they thought they had another year to win a title, and I suspect their teammates will step up to support them. Football is all these guys have known for the past decade, and when they need to win, they’ve proved that they can (think Iowa and Penn State this year). So long as they can keep their focus and avoid getting discouraged early in the game, Arkansas is going down.
4) Ohio State’s running game is going to get an unexpected boost. What happens when you throw four young running backs into a pot, and tell them “you’re all on a level playing field now, but one of you will lead Ohio State in carries next fall?” They’re going to go after each others' throats to prove themselves in practice and the weight room this winter and spring. Of Jordan Hall, Jaamal Berry, Carlos Hyde and redshirt freshman Rod Smith (who could be the best of them all from what we’ve heard), one or two are going to separate themselves quickly, but the whole group will get better thanks to the boost in competition.
5) Ohio State’s wide receivers are going to have to grow up quickly. Freshman Corey “Philly” Brown showed flashes of brilliance in limited playing time on the field this year, but he’s going to be leaned on heavily come spring (and he'll likely see some field time during the Sugar Bowl). Expect the team’s redshirt freshmen – James Louis and T.Y. Williams – to battle for the No. 2 spot, and we’ll likely see more passes tossed to tight end Jake Stoneburner. New four-star receivers Devin Smith and Evan Spencer could be in the mix, too. Smith had 22 catches for 470 yards and five touchdowns during his senior year at Massillon's Washington High.
6) Ohio State’s 2012 recruiting class will include more wide receivers. Ohio State’s stacked at running back. No one disputes that, but now that Posey might be on his way out the door one season early, the Bucks are going to look harder at the future. What good is a dual-threat offense without credible threats at wide receiver? Ohio State’s got some promising wide receiver recruits in its backyard in Springfield’s Jake Aldridge, Solon’s Tres Barksdale and Akron Buchtel’s Corey Smith. Those kids (and a lot of out-of-state WRs) can expect some extra scrutiny this fall.
7) Tressel’s not going anywhere after the Sugar Bowl, but he is doing some serious soul-searching. Fans and the media have often maligned Tressel’s preferential treatment of older players, but that’s something Ohio State’s players respect. It’s also a sign that coaching isn’t solely about winning for Tressel. He’s there to win football games, but he’s there to help prepare young men for their futures, too. In the past, Pryor has said he looks at Tressel as a father figure, and dad’s disappointed right now. Tressel’s got to be wondering what he could have done differently and what he’ll do differently in the future. As to rumors that he’s retiring after the Sugar Bowl, I don’t feel like wasting keystrokes on that. Scandal won’t be a part of Tressel’s legacy.