The only reason the NCAA’s treatment of the Ohio State “tattoos for autographs” scandal isn’t their worst decision of the year is because they already defied logic with the Cam Newton recruiting decision.
Terrelle Pryor and four other Ohio State players will miss the first five games of the 2011 season because they were caught selling various team-related items for money or “services” (tattoos). Pryor made about $2,500, and the others made between $1,000 and $1,500.
The crazy part is what they were selling: Big Ten championship rings, “gold pants” for beating Michigan, and jerseys and shoes, among other things.
Part of this issue is just another example of the difference between players and fans. I seriously doubt Terrelle Pryor or any of the other players cared that much about the rings or the gold pants, but they’re clearly worth quite a bit to the fans who bought them. Fans care about the rings and the titles and stuff like that, but it’s increasingly clear that these highly-regarded players really don’t care very much about the school pride stuff. Ohio State seems to be more of a means for reaching the NFL than anything. It’s definitely not that way for the fans.
The most absurd part of the NCAA’s ruling here is that the players are allowed to play in the Fiesta Bowl because, well, let’s let the article say it:
The players are eligible for the bowl game because the NCAA determined they did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred, Lennon said. The NCAA also said that Ohio State did not receive a competitive advantage in the incident.
This decision is actually in keeping with the NCAA’s logic in the Cam Newton investigation. Since the players apparently didn’t know the rules, it’s not fair to punish them right away for clear transgressions. Newton didn’t know about his father’s scumbaggery, so he shouldn’t be punished. These Ohio State players didn’t know the rules, so they’re allowed to get obvious benefits for being Ohio State football players.
Worse, this ruling likely has little or no effect on anything related to Ohio State football in the future. Most of those players are probably entering the NFL draft anyway, so a five-game suspension means nothing to them whatsoever. It probably just helps them out the door.
There’s not even an incentive to pay back the money. Not even for Pryor, who is laughably under-prepared for the NFL right now. Some team will surely take a chance on his physical tools. Hell, Dennis Dixon and Chase Daniel are still in the league. Some one can make Terrelle Pryor a project.
I’d also say there’s a definite competitive advantage for Ohio State: all five guys get to play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. Without them, there’s no way Ohio State wins that game. More on that later.
There is also no punishment for Ohio State for not telling their players that they can’t sell their stuff for money. Cecil Newton didn’t tell Cam anything and Ohio State didn’t tell their players anything, so that means everyone can do whatever they want with no repercussions. Where else in the world does it work like that for regular folks?
Of course, Ohio State football players are hardly regular folks, are they?
Finally, it’s absolutely ridiculous that the NCAA keeps basing its decisions on what people might or might not have known. But they’re doing it because what people knew can never be proven.
That way they don’t have to make a move on Auburn before the BCS championship game. There’s no way to prove Cam knew anything about his dad’s activities, so the NCAA says it’s unfair to punish him. They’re hoping it’s a nice, easy way around the obvious recruiting transgressions committed by the Newton family.
There is no way Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, and Solomon Thomas didn’t know they can’t sell things for profit while they’re on scholarship. But at the same time, this cannot be proven, especially when Ohio State comes out and says they screwed up by not explaining it clearly enough.
I’m not a scholarship football player (hard to believe, I know), and even I knew that you can’t just sell stuff to people that you got for being on scholarship. You know why? Besides the obvious logic of the situation, this exact situation has happened before. And even this f*cking year.
Insert Terrelle Pryor decision-making joke here.
There is no way the Sugar Bowl sells as many tickets if three of OSU’s four best offensive player are suspended for the game. No one would go to the game, and there’s no way anyone would watch it on television. It would instantly be the worst BCS bowl game behind UConn/Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Therefore, it’s easy for the NCAA to hide behind the Newton-Knowledge Argument and pretend nothing happened until 2011.
The investigation of Cam Newton and his father proved that Cecil Newton asked for money from at least Mississippi State in return for a commit from Cam. We know that much. But since Cam apparently didn’t know what his father was doing, he’s still eligible to play in the Iron Bowl, the SEC title game, and the BCS championship game for Auburn.
No way is Auburn in this position without him, but the alternative for the NCAA to what they did was to suspend Newton for the rest of the season, meaning either Boise State or TCU would be in line to play in the national championship game and both would have been in line for BCS bids, and that’s just something the BCS and the NCAA cannot have.
Instead, Auburn won out, Boise lost, and TCU is in the Rose Bowl, and all the major conferences get their $18 million and there aren’t two BCS busters taking up the cash. But the NCAA couldn’t have known that when they made the Cam Newton decision. They just wanted to keep him on the field as long as possible, no matter how illogical their decision was.
Okay, I’m done with the conspiracy theories.
There is simply no way this is a defensible decision by the NCAA. They’re basically differentiating between games and saying that a bowl game is different than a regular season game. They’re actually different, of course, but when it comes to rules violations, apparently players can get away with more when it’s a bowl game instead of Ohio State vs. Toledo in September.
This has essentially opening up the entire layoff between the end of the regular season and the bowl game for players to do whatever the hell they want in regard to selling things/making money/taking extra benefits. One more Pandora’s Box opened by the NCAA in a season in which they have gone to great lengths to display their utter incompetence and lack of oversight.
Yet again, the fans who love college football are treated like morons who will believe anything by the NCAA. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to just enjoy college football anymore without talking about recruiting violations, players getting arrested, idiotic decisions by the NCAA, and everything else.
Instead of making things more about the game, the NCAA is going out of its way to take the focus off the field and get everyone upset about investigations, rulings, and BCS collusion. They are doing their best to drive fans away from the best sport in the world, and I have no idea how to stop it. Anyone have any ideas?