First, the news: Terrelle Pryor and four other Ohio State players, including star receiver Devier Posey and star running back Daniel “Boom” Herron, have been suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of the 2011 season for receiving improper benefits.
There were items sold and money made. There’s also some word about some free tattoos. The NCAA is forcing the players to repay the money to charity. OK, that’s fine. They screwed up, they have to suffer the consequences, we get it. It might seem a little harsh, but rules are rules, right?
Well, in the NCAA that’s a matter of opinion.
First of all, the players have not been suspended for the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas because there was a misunderstanding of the rules. To some, this might seem like a very transparent attempt to have Ohio State’s best players available for the game, which figures to be a huge money maker. If you’re thinking that, you’re right.
The NCAA and the BCS — two separate entities, mind you — are consistent when it comes to one thing, and one thing only: We make money, you don’t. It’s that simple, and until we all just accept it, we’re going to spend a lot of time getting pissed off about things like this. Not that we shouldn’t be pissed off, but I’ve found the games are more fun to watch if I just pretend the NCAA and the BCS don’t exist when it comes to college football.
Then there’s the whole, “Hey, didn’t the NCAA find wrongdoing in the Cam Newton case, but not suspend him at all?” Why yes, that’s also true. Sure, these are two different transgressions, but transgressions nonetheless. The NCAA interpereted its own rules to allow Newton to play for Auburn. The fact that he’s the best player on perhaps the nation’s best team probably had
everything nothing to do with it.
Newton — the NCAA, SEC and Auburn decided — didn’t know what was going on behind his back as his father shopped him for $180,000 to Mississippi State. Newton’s ignorance of the situation wasn’t not knowing the rules, his was not knowing his own father was shopping him. Completely different.
There is one thing that’s similar in these two cases, however. The BCS and the NCAA don’t suffer anything when it comes to their bottom lines, as Newton gets to keep playing, and will be in the NFL by the time the NCAA decides to actually make a real punishment in this case. Pryor, Herron and Posey, along with the other two Ohio State players, also get to play on the big BCS stage and keep the game against Arkansas interesting. Without them, who really thinks we have a competitive Sugar Bowl?
So yes, the NCAA does actually enforce its rules — when it realizes it’s not the only one making money, that is. And that enforcement is also subject to whether or not its BCS brothers will have as much of an opportunity to make money as possible.
Glad we’re all clear on that.