Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sad Day for Ohio State Football

Finishing lunch, during which I watched the press conference with Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and head football coach Jim Tressel. Five Ohio State players have been suspended from playing the first five games of next season by the NCAA. Smith indicated that Ohio State will appeal the penalties. (Another player has been suspended for one game of the 2011 season.)

As an Ohio State alum and fan, I hope that Smith will reconsider that move. The rules are clear: Players are not to exchange goods of any kind, including awards for athletic achievement, team garb, or signed memorabilia, for goods, services, or money. They're to be amateur athletes until, if they're good enough, the NFL drafts them or they're signed to play professional football elsewhere.

The suspensions meted out by the NCAA are light penalties, considering that such egregious violations could be seen as warranting revocations of the players' athletic scholarships.

One of the notions I've nurtured is that, with his emphasis on character development in his players, Jim Tressel is unique among big-time college coaches. I still think that's true, although like the rest of we members of the human race, he isn't perfect. And he certainly can't be expected to know what happens every moment of every day in the lives of his players.

But an appeal of the charitable penalties meted out by the NCAA runs counter to the tone I think Tressel has always worked to foster in the Buckeye football program.

I hope that Ohio State will refuse to compound the sadness of this day by appealing. I would expect such a move by USC, Auburn, and other schools, but not by Ohio State.

Having said all of that, I hope that these players will learn a lesson and be stronger, better people for the experience. (That's my daily project as I cope with the realities of my own sins and deficiencies. God help us all! And I mean that literally.)


Unknown said...

My take is that there are three fingers to point blame at:

(1) First and foremost - the NCAA. This is no penalty. To anybody. The players who [knowingly?] broke the rules get to play in a major bowl game and move on with their lives. They learn nothing.

(2) Next up is OSU. So last season the players sold everything including the jerseys off their backs for whatever reason - and OSU claims they will appeal the penalty because they upped their teaching of "the rules" in November 2009? That's 13 months ago.

(3) The least finger to point the blame at are the players themselves. They are kids. Sure, maybe old enough to be told to accept responsibility for their actions - but still. All they did was work within what (to me) is really becoming a corrupt system of haves and have-nots.

Mark, I'm a Penn State fan and a regular reader of your blog. I first heard about this 10 minutes ago. I haven't finished reading the national sports writers thoughts yet but really wanted to see if you had posted any thoughts yet. Nice take!

On a completely different note - here's wishing you and the family a very glorious Christmas!


Mark Daniels said...

Thank you for taking the time to write.

I agree that someone at Ohio State had to be looking the other way, deliberately or otherwise, for all of this to have taken place. It's also silly for Ohio State to claim, in essence, that the players didn't know any better before November, 2009. This is extremely disappointing.

Your comments are thoughtful and on target.

God bless you and yours with a wonderful Christmas and a happy 2011.