Tuesday Skull Session

By Nicholas Jervey on August 6, 2013 at 6:00 am

Baseball is not one of our most covered sports here, much less pro baseball. However, the Alex Rodriguez suspension is a nifty parallel to something nearer and dearer to our hearts, college sports.

The reaction to Alex Rodriguez's return to Major League Baseball and immediate suspension has been overwhelmingly negative, as could be expected in regards to a self-absorbed admitted cheater with a history of lying. And yet, he's an unlikely protagonist. The reaction also serves as a pretty good foil to the public treatment of college athletes.

In Rodriguez's case, MLB suspended him for a minimum of 211 games. Mind you, Rodriguez has never tested positive for steroids or accumulated strikes under MLB's substance abuse policy, which has much smaller penalties for first and second strikes than what Rodriguez received. MLB is circumventing its own system to punish Rodriguez harshly because he has embarrassed them.

MLB's inconsistency is similar to the NCAA's inconsistency in responding to improper benefits allegations. Furthermore, differences in public response to Johnny Manziel and the Tattoo Five highlight an inconsistency in fan and media opinion.

Johnny Manziel is a college athlete with a drinking problem and trouble adjusting to fame, and his supposed autographs have gotten a bit of attention. The truth is unclear, so unless there's a smoking gun judgment must wait. But Manziel has the benefit of the doubt for allegedly receiving compensation for memobilia, something Pryor, Herron, Posey, Adams, and Thomas could have used when they were forced to perform in a farce of an press conference to pacify the NCAA and be reinstated for the 2011 Sugar Bowl.

After that public shaming and the revelation of Jim Tressel's duplicity, Ohio State was a target for scorn and ridicule; the NCAA hit OSU with a nine scholarship reduction and a bowl ban, and DeVier Posey lost all but two games of his senior season for a lesser offense than Cam Newton got off scot-free for the year prior. And at the time, the popular response was that penalties against Ohio State were either on the money or too lenient.

Whether or not he's suspended, Manziel has a groundswell of support for him, as though he's Robin Hood to the NCAA's King John. Considering the NCAA's history, those vilifying the NCAA may be right! The NCAA is far less popular than it was three years ago, which could explain why most people take Manziel's side. The reasons that more people support him than they did the Tattoo Five could be based in racism or disillusionment. Hopefully, it's the latter.

 LIVING IN THE LIMELIGHT. With Johnny Manziel's exploits rendering his eligibility questionable, Braxton Miller is now your Heisman frontrunner according to Bovada and other sportsbooks. A 5:1 favorite, Miller will no longer be an anonymous face in the crowd, flying under the radar. Indeed, this could result in Miller receiving some national attention for the first time.

There's no great way to measure a college athlete's Q Score, but wouldn't Miller have to be one of the top three most recognizable athletes in college football? After Manziel, the only player I can think of with more hype is Jadaveon Clowney. AJ McCarron may have quarterbacked the last two championship teams, but he doesn't get nearly as much credit for Alabama's success as its running backs do. Aaron Murray and Taylor Martinez round out the top five, unless there's some obvious name I'm missing.

If you MUST bring a derogatory sign into Ohio Stadium or the Schottenstein Center, please make it more original than this.A-Fraud rhymes with A-Rod and implies misconduct. Ingenious!

 LES MILES BRINGS HARSH JUSTICE. Months after LSU running back Jeremy Hill sucker punched a student and the attack was captured on video, Les Miles made the difficult decision to reinstate Jeremy Hill to the team, if by "made the difficult decision" you mean "deferred the decision to his players":

Miles said Hill met with his team and told “this is what you do and this is what you don’t do.” The meeting took place at 2:15 p.m. with his team, and Hill returned to an afternoon practice session.

“There was some interplay and conversation, and they voted to invite him back,” Miles said. “He owes this school, this team and this community his best behavior.”

Miles left open the possibility of suspending Hill for some games, which is not impressive considering how most non-athlete students would be treated in a similar situation (i.e. with expulsion). Not to toot Urban Meyer's horn, but Miles' decision compares unfavorably to Meyer's suspension of Carlos Hyde for three-plus games for an assault far less definite than Hill's that didn't even result in charges.

 CRY ABOUT IT, CORNLARDS. For Iowa fans, there's good news and bad news. To keep the glass half-full, the good news first: Iowa is now the nation's top party school. With former No. 1 schools like Wisconsin, Illinois and Penn State in the conference, the Big Ten has a killer party school strength of schedule.

Unfortunately, the bad news overwhelms the good news. The football team went 4-8, a vengeful deity abhors their running game, and the school can't afford to fire Kirk Ferentz. Worst of all, Northwestern fans – Northwestern fans! – are giving them guff:



Are you just going to take that, Iowa?

 OSU'S LONGEST TENURED COACH RETIRES. Vince Pazano, coach of the Ohio State varsity diving team for 35 years, has retired following a stellar coaching career. Pazano, who led the program while the diving team accumulated 92 All-Americans, 59 Big Ten champions, 12 NCAA champions and nine Olympic athletes, leaves the university as one of the most decorated and successful coaches of any sport in school history.

The Olympic sports get short shrift when compared to football and basketball and baseball, which makes overlooking the minor dynasties' accomplishments easy. Congratulations to Mr. Pazano are in order.

 LINKS AHOY. This comic is fascinating, but mustn't sports fandom mean more than responding to a variable ratio schedule?... Tulsa's gold helmets are glorious, and Iowa State's 1920s throwbacks are all right. Notre Dame? Blech... Michigan State DT Micajah Reynolds saves a gunshot victim's life... PROTIP: wait until you cross the finish line to celebrate victory... I'd lose my mind if my team had 12 turnovers in one game like Texas A&M in the 1942 Rose Bowl... That's "One Direction", ESPN transcriber... That's a Big 12 game, Big Ten Network program director... Some HURR about Demetrius Knox... Trolling Lasik recipients is just mean... Florida Man and Ohio Man are Bizarro World's Dynamic Duo... A friendly reminder that Eat Too, Brutus IV and The Gold Pants Social will be excellent... And at long last, a Jacques-Louis David/Manziel coronation mashup.

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