So here is Ohio State AD Gene Smith at the podium, taking question about the suspensions of six of his football players a day after the story breaks. Smith looks cool calm and collected answering questions from the press when he utters the statement of a lifetime; “We were not explicit with these young men that you could not resell items that we give you. We began to be more explicit in November 2009.”
One of my good friends, DJ, used to play baseball at OSU as a backup catcher. He has some great stories of things he went through from his playing days. Some G rated, some R rated, they never cease to draw interest from me at anytime.
Last week after the suspicious suspension of 5 prominent football players at OSU DJ told me about the rules of compliance at the school and how student athletes, like the football and baseball teams, have to sit through each meeting at the beginning an end of each quarter. According to him if you don’t sit through the meetings then you cant compete in any athletic competition. So it makes me wonder just how in the world the school’s AD Gene Smith says that the troubled stars were not properly instructed on the rules of the game.
The rundown goes as follows; last week six players at Ohio State were suspended for five games next year, but allowed to play in this year’s Sugar Bowl (more on that later), for selling their Big Ten title rings and gold pants jewels from the annual Michigan game for money used for tattoos, which under NCAA guidelines are listed as receiving improper benefits.
Its not just Joe Dirt off of the practice squad either, it was quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, Wide Receiver Devier Posey, Left Tackle Mike Adams and defensive Solomon Thomas who were the offenders. All except Thomas are offensive starters who lead the team in specific categories and make the Buckeyes go on offense. Losses like those would likely kill the Buckeyes chances in a game like the Sugar Bowl, where our tale of corruption takes a nice little turn.
Just how exactly can you suspend five guys for the first five games next season but have then play in the last game of this season? The sense made by the NCAA is little if there is any at all.
NCAA is protecting the players for money reasons because their losses hurt the game on the field, which could hurt ratings and sponsorships. Pryor and company caught a lucky break for being the privileged student athletes that they are and for the game that they are in. if this was the Little Caesar’s Bowl trust me they wouldn’t be a part of it.
What does this say for all parties involved though? Think about how this affects the players, OSU, Jim Tressel, the NCAA and how they handle the situations at hand as well as the rules.
For the NCAA it makes you wonder if they really care about the rules at all. They suspended A.J. Green for selling is jersey at the beginning of the year and they make minor judgments here and there, but as far as doing the right thing the NCAA has done a poor job of that.
They Let Cam Newton play on even though he more than likely received $200,000 to play at Auburn, they were so lenient on Jeremiah Masoli’s arrest and easy transfer that it was laughable that he found a school with the right “graduate program” and could avoid sitting out a year and they have yet to address the issues of arrests and criminal mishaps at Georgia and Florida. Its like they’re picking their spots on who to go after and make the rule book stretch out further and further for certain programs like Ohio State.
Speaking of Ohio State what does this say about how they coddle their superstar athletes? Gene Smith’s ridiculous explanation for his students’ behavior is the main reason why these guys act out the way that they do. If the AD and coach and school can’t put the responsibility on the shoulders of their players why shouldn’t they do what they want? To say that his students didn’t know the rules is A. a lie and B. just plain silly. If the baseball players, lacrosse players and soccer players know what to and not to do than so should the football team, no exceptions.
Then there are the players at hand especially Pryor. For a guy that was as highly touted as Pryor he has done nothing to show that he is worth the hype. Pryor and his fellow mates now sit at a crossroads where they could leave for the NFL because all of them are eligible, but their draft stocks will be lower than what they could’ve been had they stayed for their senior season.
For Pryor especially he probably wont get a sniff at quarterback because he’s nowhere near ready to get under center in the NFL. It’s funny because when I watch Newton play I see the player that Pryor should’ve been. Newton is the complete package of strength, speed, accuracy and instincts that Pryor should’ve been. Watching #2 in Auburn makes me look at #2 in Columbus with great shame. Pryor could’ve been one of the best but never fully immersed himself in the game. It was all about the attention for Pryor and now in likely his final season that attention will have prevented from being so much more and make him a huge disappointment.
For me this is about a lack of respect in all areas from Smith, the NCAA but more importantly the players. I’m a proud Ohio State grad; I respect this school and what it embodies more than most things. To watch these guys sell their rings and golden pants charms, which the older players cherish like their children, means that they don’t have respect for the institution that pays their way through school or for the other kids that walk through The Oval or down High Street on a daily basis. To put money for tattoos over career and your institution is unforgiveable to me. It shows what kind of guys they really are and it makes me furious.
(I had a facebook status about this actually where I said (paraphrasing) that most NCAA institutions cheat, it happens, but you have to smart about it. For these guys to be this open and dumb about it makes me even more furious. You sat through those meetings, you knew the rules and you still didn’t care. Another reason why Smith’s statement ticked me off, THEY KNEW! He knows too, but in the end it all doesn’t matter because that’s college sports. Its not about academics or school pride or tradition anymore its all about money. That’s why Nebraska is in the Big Ten, why Josh Selby gets only 8 games for being paid to play amateur games and why Pryor and Newton get to play in the BCS money games. They NCAA knows what they did wrong, but they don’t care, it’s all about the money.)
However you look at it it’s one big mess. The NCAA gets its money game, Pryor gets one more chance to show off his limitless, but limited, talents, the players will get away unscathed, Gene Smith sweeps it under the rug with no responsibility and everyone is happy. That’s the way it works. It’s like the movie Casino; everyone is crooked in someway whether you’re building a casino with mob money and skimming it off of the top, or your athletes are doing illegal activities that you know about yet your reaping the benefits of their star and turning away. That’s how it is.