This is Nick's first semester writing for the Harbinger. He is a Junior. He enjoys playing lacrosse for East as well as snowboarding and supporting the Ohio State Buckeyes and the CIncinnati Bengals. Read Full »
Six T-shirts, a baseball hat, a lanyard, a shot glass, a license plate holder, a pennant and last but not least a fleece pair of pajama pants. Those are all of the things I own that bear the name or logo of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Add that to a campus tour last summer and you could say that I’ve done a lot to support The Ohio State University—but other than draw negative attention from the nation for cheating, what has it done for me?
In the past 10 years, head football coach Jim Tressel has given me a lot. In 2002, the Buckeyes were the first team in 105 years to go undefeated in the regular season and win the national championship game. Since then, Tressel and his sweater vests have won six Big Ten championships and gone 8-1 against our despised rivals, the University of Michigan Wolverines.
In May, however, everything changed. I was eating a ‘78 Classic cheeseburger for dinner at Johnny’s in Corinth Square when my friend poked me and pointed to one of the TV screens showing ESPN.
I looked up and saw a large red banner that read, “OHIO STATE: SCANDAL,” and immediately leaned back, sighed and braced myself for what followed.
In January, I was at the same restaurant cheering and celebrating and laughing in the face of a friend and Arkansas fan as Ohio State defeated the Razorbacks 34-25 in the Sugar Bowl.
But this time I groaned as the SportsCenter anchor revealed that my boys in Columbus were under fire for a scandal that involved six players selling memorabilia for tattoos at a local tattoo parlor. This would later lead to the suspension of six players, including star quarterback Terrell Pryor who left early for the NFL and the resignation of our beloved coach. Tressel resigned because he released a form saying he didn’t know about the player’s actions—in reality, he did.
I’m very upset by what has happened in the past six months. Maybe if the students were taking steroids or the coaches were paying off the referees I would feel like the punishment fits the crime, but the rule that they broke needs to be rewritten. The official rule states that no players can receive money or gifts during their time in college sports, which is understandable when talking about bribes. But in reality, this is not what happened to the OSU players who got in trouble—it’s almost the exact opposite. They traded their awards, rings and memorabilia for tattoos.
The reason they got in trouble for selling their things is that apparently those items technically weren’t theirs under NCAA regulations. They were property of the University and not theirs to give away. This makes no sense to me. The players were the ones who put years of time and effort into training hard and performing well, not the college itself or the NCAA. They earned those accolades, and without athletes like them, the university’s football program would not be as successful or as popular as it is today. If the players earn that award, it should be theirs to do with it as they please. If it doesn’t hold sentimental value, why should they be forced to hold onto it?
The university already makes millions of dollars off of these young athletes. Think about all the tickets sold to the countless scarlet and grey fans packed into the 105,000-person Buckeye “Horseshoe” Stadium that is always full. Think about the fan apparel that fans, like me, all across the United States buy. You can even buy a jersey of your favorite Buckeye player—the problem is that it will be the university and the NCAA who are getting your money and not the hard-working player himself. If he does get money, he’ll get suspended at the very least.
What Ohio State did compared to some other teams is barely even comparable.
How about the Miami Hurricanes, who had 72 players and coaches in football and basketball receive an estimated $2 million in benefits? These benefits include crazy sex parties in posh hotels and on the private yacht of the booster himself, an accused Ponzi schemer, Nevin Shapiro. The man even paid for an abortion for a girl that one of the players knocked up.
Currently, the NCAA is threatening the possible use of the “Death Penalty” for Miami, which means the school’s entire program will be shut down completely for a few years. This has only been used five times in all of college sports and just once in football. In 1987 and 1988, SMU was given the penalty when it was revealed that it was paying 21 athletes $61,000.
Thankfully, because the Buckeyes cooperated with the NCAA, they weren’t given the harsh penalties that the USC Trojans suffered after a similar scandal with Heisman-winner Reggie Bush back in 2005.
As of now, things are starting to get back to normal for Ohio State. We won our first two games and currently ranked 15th in the nation. Hopefully the new coach Luke Fickell will be good enough that I’ll be able to continue trash-talking my KU-supporting friends and coaches in both football and basketball. OSU finished the regular season last year ranked number one over the number two Jayhawks, just in case you basketball fans have forgotten. Hopefully, we can put this whole mess behind us, and we can escape with our reputation intact.
In the big picture of college football cheating, what Ohio State did was pretty minor. The nation should be focusing on the bigger and more corrupt programs, such as Miami, Oregon and many other teams that are being investigated—and hopefully penalized severely.
I guess they’re right: cheaters never prosper.