On Friday morning, Tracy Sprinkle tweeted about his innocuous Fourth of July plans to gorge on copious amounts of food.
Today I shall dominate food! Lol
— Tracy Sprinkle (@TSprinkle93) July 4, 2014
By Saturday evening, the backup defensive lineman was the poster child of Ohio State’s first act of summer debauchery for his role in a massive Friday night bar brawl, first reported by Eleven Warriors. Lorain Police described it as “absolute mayhem,” according to Cleveland.com.
By Sunday morning, Sprinkle, 19, officially faced charges of drug possession, drug paraphernalia and rioting/failure to disperse.
By Monday afternoon, coach Urban Meyer dismissed Sprinkle after pleading not guilty in court a couple hours earlier.
His status, according to a team spokesman, will be reevaluated after his legal issues are resolved.
But the charges staring down Sprinkle are perhaps more serious and potentially damning than any discipline Meyer or the Buckeyes can level.
Because if Sprinkle is indeed convicted on any or all charges, Meyer, who got wind of the fracas while on vacation, had every reason — and even an obligation — to excommunicate the redshirt freshman.
Meyer, though, has no moral imperative to be a babysitter while on a getaway that registers as a blip of rest and relaxation in the event-saturated lives of college football’s most high-profile coaches.
It’s why summer — and the stupid things that tend to happen during it — is a reminder of how their death grips of control during the season start inevitably slipping come May, June and July.
It’s a reminder of how it’s hard to hold Meyer accountable for whether those stupid things happen and, rather, how it’s fair to applaud or criticize how he handles them.
It reminds us coaches like Meyer have a certain responsibility to steer their players away from trouble, but to what extent?
It’s a reminder such an onus falls on the players. It fell on Sprinkle this weekend.
Because when Sprinkle walked into that bar, he had more to lose than most.
He’s the biggest casualty of his own stupidity.
The Grown & Sexy Lounge, where the melee happened according to the police report first obtained by Cleveland.com, likely sustained physical damages, but it’ll surely recover in time.
The man Sprinkle was jawing with, 23-year-old Wayne Blue, allegedly took a bottle to the face before also being arrested and a woman in the periphery of the chaos got knocked unconscious by a chair, according to the report. But they both escaped without further known medical complications.
Then there’s Sprinkle, whose full scholarship to play football at such a powerful place like Ohio State evaporated because a fight about god knows what in a obscure, dilapidated dive bar.
In a matter of a weekend, his life's been turned upside down. But the Buckeyes will do just fine without him.
They’ve got a defensive line as mighty as any team in the nation next season, and while Sprinkle figured to be in the deep mix for playing time, he was hardly going to be a staple in the shadows of Noah Spence, Joey Bosa and Michael Bennett.
Sprinkle’s legal troubles weren't going to hold the Buckeyes back, but he would've dragged them down.
Meyer saw that.
In the absence of what used to be the promise of playing major college football for a major school, Sprinkle is the villain and the victim. If the dismissal sticks, Columbus will be a memory of lost opportunity while fading away from the fray. He's neither the first nor the last to experience that.
He’ll suffer without Ohio State.
But the Buckeyes won’t suffer much without him.