As I said at the beginning of the week, I’m not going to get myself to wound up over what will or won’t happen on the field for Ohio State. We play who we play, and we end up with the record we deserve. It may not be especially happy, but learning now will make for much better football later.
I’ve having a hard time maintaining a similarly rosy outlook over the continued presence of The Unpleasantness, however. It poked its head around the corner earlier this week, when we hear that Posey, Herron and a couple others were being suspended for getting paid for no-w0rk jobs over the summer. The Unpleasantness did more than tiptoe around in the background today, though — it stomped on Posey, who got himself another five games off the field because of his “employment” this summer.
And I don’t care what the experts say — this looks like “failure to monitor” or, worse, “lack of institutional control” to me. And given that the NCAA has yet to rule on Ohio State’s previous problems with memorabilia and tattoos and the rest of that fun stuff, I can’t help but think that this is bad. Very, very bad.
Think about it. Just a couple months after the starting quarterback, starting left tackle, starting tailback and staring wide receiver were suspended because of Tatgate, two of those players — and two others — apparently thought it was OK to take some cash from a shady booster over the summer.
THEY HAD ALREADY BEEN SUSPENDED. THEY THOUGHT IT WOULD BE OK TO TAKE A NO-WORK JOB ANYWAY.
And then add to that the other three players who took money from the same shady booster to attend a charity outing. They were suspended as well.
I’ve never been so hot with math, but: five players suspended because of Tatgate. Three because of the charity thing. Another four — including two WHO WERE ALREADY ON SUSPENSION — for their summer “jobs.” Twelve suspensions for ten players.
We’ve been told by AD Gene Smith and university President Gordon Gee this week that Ohio State doesn’t have compliance problems. Gee even said OSU is the poster child for NCAA compliance.
Ohio State is the poster child for something, yes, but I don’t think the rest of the country shares Gee’s view. I know I don’t.
After some consideration, I was willing to give the Tat Five the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they were unaware of the rules. Perhaps economic circumstances made the sales of Gold Pants, jerseys, helmets and trophies necessary. I get it, and because we’re talking about 19 and 20 year-old-guys, I’m willing to write off one of these things as a mistake, albeit a costly one.
But given the attention — the scrutiny — that the university was under from the conclusion of the Sugar Bowl on, I’m not sure that we can gloss over another seven suspensions. I’m certain we can’t do so in the cases of Herron and Posey, who definitely should have known better than to put themselves in this position a second time. And — AND — given that the head coach was fired and the quarterback left school — I don’t think it’s a stretch that the university itself should be expected to make an extra to ensure the program stays clean, at least until after the NCAA makes a decision.
Did it? Is OSU the poster child for NCAA compliance? I know the university has self-reported more violations than any other DI school in the last decade. At this point, I’d be willing to bet we have more suspended players on the roster than any other DI program at the moment as well.
And if this is a concern to me, I’d have to think the members of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions might also have noticed.
Here’s what we do. Herron and Posey should be dismissed from the program. They were on suspension and took shady money from a shady businessman anyway. Once is a mistake. Twice is a problem, one that effects not only them, but the program as a whole.
The administration’s claim that Jim Tressel was solely responsible for the initial issues is … possible. More importantly, the NCAA seemed to accept that explanation. Will the members of its infractions committee continue to believe that athletics department administrators — and I’m thinking specifically of Smith here — still had no knowledge of problems now that there have been another seven suspensions since Tressel left Ohio State? At a minimum, Gene Smith needs to go as well.
I was happy a few weeks back, when the NCAA said that it appeared — at that point — that failure to monitor or lack of institutional control penalties weren’t necessary at Ohio State, because the university had managed to place the blame for its problems exclusively on Tressel.
Look at everything that’s happened since Tressel was fired. Think the NCAA might be having second thoughts?