First posted on Inside The Shoe. Brady answers the 3 biggest questions about the suspensions.
Wow! That wasn't the way Buckeye nation wanted to kick off the holiday season. Unless you have been living in a cave for the past week you know that Terrelle Pryor, Boom Herron, Mike Adams, DeVier Posey, Soloman Thomas and Jordan Whiting all were found to have either sold some awards for extra cash and/or receive discounts on body ink in exchange for signed memorabilia. The news broke late last week by the infractions occurred in the 2008 and 1009 seasons. Like any Buckeye fan, I was shocked and extremely worried about the timing of the announcement and the speed at which the NCAA handed down its punishment to the individuals involved.
Player eligibility for the Sugar Bowl seemed in jeopardy along with OSU’s chances of ending its’ embarrassing 0-9 record against gods conference in bowl games. Luckily Jim Delaney and AD Gene Smith stepped in on the teams behalf and it was deemed that the players were not given adequate information on what the rules were pertaining to selling personal awards. Yeah, I don’t believe that either but this was the “official” explanation handed down by the university.
After digesting all of the information over the weekend (along with an abundance of holiday cuisine) I figured there were 3 main questions/concerns that fans would have about the situation. Let’s explore them as individual items rather than lumping the whole thing together as there are varying degrees to this mess.
Is it wrong to sell personal awards (rings, gold pants, etc..) for monetary gain?
Absolutely not. I would argue until I’m blue in the face that these guys had the right to sell those items. I can see where the NCAA had a problem with it though. At Ohio St., football is the revenue king and anything to do with the program would have more value than other championship rings or awards received in other sports at the university. That gives football players an advantage over other student athletes and consequently can be viewed as unfair. Unfortunately, this is the nature of the beast. These players worked their tails off to earn those Big Ten championships along with their victories against Michigan. The rings and gold pants awarded are technically their property and there is no court on earth that would view it any other way. College players are broke and often come from rough backgrounds.
Many have families that are struggling to pay the bills back home. I am not naive enough to think that this was the only reason these players decided to part with those various items though. That was the official reason given by Ohio St. but you would be crazy to think that some of that cash didn’t go towards nice dinners or a case of Budweiser. If, and that’s a big IF, most of the money went towards supporting a family going through tough times, the punishment does not fit the crime. The NCAA appears quite hypocritical to allow college students to be awarded rings and trinkets made out of precious medals to then say you can’t sell them. A classic case of letting the inmates run the asylum if you ask me. Just asking for trouble.
How could these guys possibly part with championship rings, and especially those golden pants, for a few extra bucks?
I have no idea. This is the aspect to the story that really upset me and surely upset many players from the OSU past. I might feel better about the whole situation if it involved agents and $100 handshakes to tell you the truth. Seriously guys, you have a free education, meal money and free room and board. Most of you will be making more money per Sunday than most folks see in 3 years. Your telling me you can’t hold on to these cherished items and wait another year to make the big bucks? This act of betrayal and selfishness really illustrates the disconnect between player and fan in today's college football.
I realize that many of these guys don’t hail from our great state but they must know by now how important football is to us. Selling Big Ten championship rings and freakin’ gold pants is like punching the fans right in the gut. Really? You sold the gold pants from the Michigan victories?! I get TSUN has been a dumpster fire as of late but they are still the hated Wolverines. What do you think past Buckeye’s such as Antoine Winfield or Mike Vrabel would do for a few more pairs of those things. Hell, Cooper might still have a job if he had only a few more pairs. I am sure ol’ Coop added a few more gray hairs to that dome of his after reading about this.
How do the suspension effect next season? Not that much in my opinion. Let’s face the facts. Terrelle Pryor has not lived up to the incredible hype bestowed on him and this team may be better off with Braxton Miller under center next season. I realize that many of us are still clinging to the notion that TP is superman but can you see OSU getting to the MNC with another season of shot put throws and indecisiveness out of the QB position? I sure as hell can’t. The guy is a tremendous athlete and will probably make and excellent NFL receiver if he is humble enough for a position change (not likely).
Time for the Braxton Miller Era
Personally, the sooner Braxton gets here the better. The team may suffer through some freshman mistakes in the first few weeks but will be better for it in the end. Miller will also have the spring to prepare for the spotlight as he is graduating early this year. This quote from Miller after choosing the Buckeyes may mean more to us now than ever. “I’m an Ohio guy. It just came down to the fact that it was Ohio St. That was that.” Music to my ears brother!
The running back position is loaded with young talent and the loss of Boom Herron should not affect the running game in the slightest. It took upwards of 2 seasons for Herron to become a serviceable back and his absence will open the door for Hall, Berry, Hyde and Smith. From all accounts, Rod Smith has been tearing up bowl practices and many of his teammates are raving about the guy. Hall has been good in his limited action and Berry has opened some eyes with his kick returns. Even if one of the aforementioned guys decides to transfer, there is still plenty of talent to go around and I am looking forward to seeing the next wave of Buckeye backs.
We're going to miss you, Dane.
DeVier Posey struggled this season and I would argue that the loss of Sanzenbacher is far and away the bigger of the two. There were whispers that Posey was a goner even before this story broke so losing him was a foregone conclusion anyway. He is definitely a threat on the outside but his drops this season coupled with the disappearing acts for entire games makes him an expendable commodity. Hopefully Philly Brown and Chris Fields are ready for the limelight next season because we will need those guys to perform at a high level.
The biggest loss may be that of Mike Adams. He finally lived up to his recruiting hype this season and made 1st team all Big Ten while helping to anchor a much improved offensive line. As with any offense, its’ success starts up front in the trenches and replacing big Mike won’t be easy (though there are some young guys I am excited about on the O line). It remains to be seen if Adams will bolt for the league but I can’t see how the Junior will sit out half a season in favor of NFL riches. He would be a key addition to the team midway through next season (especially with a young QB at the helm) if he decides to stay. Only time will tell.
Obviously this whole situation is another black eye to the Ohio St. football program but I don’t view these infractions as egregious, just disappointing. Don’t tell that to noted Buckeye hater Mark May though. He had the balls to come out and say that if this had happened at an SEC university, the NCAA would have ruled the players out for the bowl game. Are you F’n serious Mark? Did you forget about Cam Newton and his family trying to squeeze 180K out of Miss. St.? What did the NCAA do in the wake of these PROVEN allegations? They limited the amount of visits by his father and gave Newton the Heisman along with allowing him to play in the MNC. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me considering the severity of that situation. I don’t know why I continue to let this douche bag get under my skin but I can’t help it. I am convinced he is on the ESPN staff only to piss off one of the largest fan bases in the country. Congratulations Mark! You got me again.
All in all, if OSU had to get busted this was the absolute best outcome they could’ve expected. Not only do we keep our starters for the Sugar bowl but the young guys will get a chance to show their stuff next year. The NCAA continues to befuddle me and everyone else with their inconsistent and self serving punishments. Money and television ratings obviously fuel their decisions and the boys from Indianapolis continue to be a joke year in and year out. Unfortunately we have to live with their decisions but thankfully this year’s Sugar Bowl won’t be ruined because of them. I’m ready to put this whole mess in the rear view mirror and concentrate on something fun… like a football game.