More absurdity from the NCAA

The biggest problem facing the NCAA is the myth of amateurism in college sports. With the Internet, 24-hour cable channels, and now social media, the activities of “student athletes” is now much more open to scrutiny.

In their losing battle to monitor and control these college kids, the NCAA is chasing down some ridiculous “problems.” Check out their recent allegations against North Carolina:

Last week the NCAA found that from February through June 2010, the university “did not adequately and consistently monitor social networking activity that visibly illustrated potential amateurism violations within the football program, which delayed the institution’s discovery and compounded the provision of impermissible benefits.”

The statement included an NCCA request for “copies of materials posted on Twitter by football student-athletes. … Furthermore, the NCAA is requesting information regarding the institution’s efforts to monitor the social networking activity of football student-athletes.”

So the NCAA is now seeking to become a social networking assassin of its own. Or should I say it is just playing another variation of its familiar role of assassin, as the NCAA is often in the business of search and destroy, usually of its own making.

Following the Ohio State tattoo fiasco and the emerging story of Alabama players potentially getting suits, the NCAA is setting itself up for repeated failure by expecting their athletes to avoid all temptation. They need to loosen the rules, and they need to consider letting athletes earn money on outside activities.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

From tattoos to suits?

Alabama Crimson Tide Julio Jones (R) drops a pass next to Florida Gators’ Joe Haden (L) during the first quarter in their NCAA SEC Championship college football game in Atlanta, Georgia, December 5, 2009. REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES SPORT FOOTBALL)

Ohio State lost its coach and best player as a result of a scandal stemming from tattoos. That story seems to be winding down, but we shouldn’t be surprised to hear about potential scandals at other schools where players are trading signed memorabilia for stuff.

In Alabama, it looks like the players might be partial to suits over tattoos. Outkick the Coverage is tracking this story, and they have photos of Julio Jones wearing 10 different suits as he walks into Alabama games. It’s still early, but let’s see if the NCAA gets involved.

Until the NCAA changes the way it does business, these scandals will start popping up all over the place.

UPDATE: Brooks digs into the story and uncovers more information and photos, including information about Mark Ingram.

NCAA finds no new violations by Ohio State

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel claps after a play during their NCAA football game against Indiana in Columbus, Ohio, October 9, 2010. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Ohio State got great news today, as the NCAA informed the school in writing that it found no new violations other than those that were reported by the school, and that the Buckeyes would not be hit with a failure to monitor charge. This makes it far less likely that Ohio State will get hammered with new sanctions.

The NCAA has notified Ohio State University that it will not face charges of failing to appropriately monitor its football team as part of a memorabilia-sales scandal that brought down former Coach Jim Tressel.

The NCAA has not uncovered any new, unreported violations during its investigation and agrees with Ohio State that Tressel was the only university official aware of violations by his players and that he failed to report them.

“Other than (two redacted player names) and (Ted) Sarniak, there is no indication that Tressel provided or discussed the information he received … with anyone else, particularly athletics administrators,” the NCAA reported in an enforcement staff case summary.

In the summary that was delivered to Ohio State yesterday and released today, the NCAA again stresses that Tressel failed in his duty to report the violations and knowingly fielded at least two ineligible players.

The NCAA will not hammer Ohio State with its worst-possible findings of loss of institutional control or failure to monitor, which would bring significant punishment.

“Considering the institution’s rules education and monitoring efforts, the enforcement staff did not believe a failure to monitor charge was appropriate in this case,” the NCAA informed Ohio State.

The NCAA also reported that it investigated a Sports Illustrated report that identified nine additional players as selling OSU memorabilia to tattoo-parlor owner Edward Rife and interviewed the athletes, but confirmed only one as dealing with the man who is soon to be sentenced on marijuana-trafficking charges.

Will SI apologize to Ohio State and the eight students who were named in their story but ultimately cleared by the NCAA? I doubt it. SI reported the story today with a brief AP report.

As stated above, this is big news for the Ohio State program and it might just let them get a fresh start in 2012 without more sanctions. At the very least they should avoid crippling sanctions like those imposed on USC.

This changes nothing with respect to the mess in college football. We’ve seen a top coach lose his job and a premiere player run off to the the NFL over a bunch of tattoos, while an entire season was vacated, erasing the hard work of all the other players. The entire episode is absurd.

It’s also a warning sign that people shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Other programs clearly have problems as well, and some of them will be hit hard, but we have to wait and see how investigations play out.

The NCAA needs to do some soul searching and reconsider its outdated rules and the absurd notion of having schools vacate wins.

Ohio recruiting battle heats up

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel celebrates with his team after their NCAA football game against Indiana University in Columbus, Ohio in this October 9, 2010 file photo. The Ohio State University announced on May 30, 2011 that head coach Tressel had resigned and that Fickell will take over as interim head coach for the 2011 season. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan/Files (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Things have changed dramatically in the Big Ten since Ohio State defeated Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl last year behind Terrelle Pryor and other Buckeyes who were set to start suspensions at the beginning of the 2012 season. The ensuing scandal has claimed Jim Tressel’s job, sent Terrelle Pryor to the NFL supplemental draft and has added uncertainty to Ohio State’s 2012 recruiting operation. Ohio State vacated last season’s wins and Gene Smith is hoping the NCAA won’t impose more sanctions, but there’s uncertainty and it’s impacting Ohio State’s recruiting.

Meanwhile, the powers that be at Michigan came to their senses and parted ways with Rich Rodriguez. They hired Brady Hoke, and now they’re going after 300-pound linemen again. At Michigan State, Mark Dantonio continues to turn that program around as well.

With the problems at Ohio State, Hoke and Dantonio are going after the talented recruits in the state of Ohio that were mostly locked up during the Tressel years. Michigan just landed Kyle Kalis, a huge lineman from the Cleveland area who is a top-150 recruit according to ESPN. He had originally committed to Ohio State, but then changed his mind in the face of potential sanctions.

Detroit News columnist Bob Wojnowski is giddy in his recent column as he explains the potential for Michigan and Michigan State to turn the tables on the Buckeyes if more Ohio recruits shun the Buckeyes. As he points out, “since 2001, Michigan and Michigan State are a combined 1-15 against Ohio State.” Part of it was coaching, but recruiting was very important as well as Tressel did a great job of keeping the best Ohio players in Ohio.

There’s no doubt that the Michigan schools will get a boost, but even Wojnowski admits it will likely be temporary, and it might not affect the balance of power much at all.

First, consider that Ohio State had a monster recruiting class last year, and they were already loaded with young talent. The Buckeyes picked up two quarterbacks last year that could make them set at the position for the next six years! Braxton Miller was a top-ranked recruit last year, and many think he can start this year as a true freshman. He’s a mobile quarterback, but he’s also a pure passer with great instincts as well. He’s not a physical specimen like Pryor, but he’ll likely be a better all-around quarterback.

The Buckeyes also picked up Glenville’s Cardale Jones who many see as a Pryor clone. He’s big, strong and fast, and many think he has a better arm than Pryor. He’ll be grayshirting as he needs to go to a prep school to work on academics. If that works out, he can redshirt the following year and then be available for the following four years.

Next, Ohio State is still getting recruits. Kalis was a huge loss, but the other nine 2012 commits have decided to stay with the Buckeyes. They are all Ohio kids but they aren’t top-150 stars, and the Buckeyes aren’t getting an national recruits. Instead, they’re getting kids who bleed scarlet and gray. Just this week they added two more recruits, Luke Roberts and Patrick Elfein. Neither of these guys were snagged away from top programs like USC or Alabama, but they are solid recruits from the state of Ohio. Ohio State has plenty of blue-chippers from the previous three recruiting classes, having one “down” year where they load up on high-character kids who love the Buckeyes can actually be a positive.

This brings us to Luke Fickell, Ohio State’s “interim” head coach. Fickell is determined to infuse the team with values like toughness and character, and he recently brought on Mike Vrabel as an assistant coach. This was a real coup, as Vrabel brings his three Super Bowl rings and a ton of credibility to the coaching staff. Wojnowski had a peculiar reaction, calling the hiring of the “inexperienced” Vrabel an act of “desperation.” This is where the optimism in Michigan might be getting a little overblown. Vrabel played with Fickell, and hiring a 14-year NFL veteran with three Super Bowl rings as linebackers coach is hardly a desperate move. Also, Vrabel will be a huge help in recruiting, as Luke Roberts stated when he committed to OSU this week.

Unless Ohio Sate gets massive additional penalties from the NCAA, I doubt the recruiting landscape will change much as a result of the scandal after this year. Ohio State will get back to landing the best recruits out of Ohio, and that will give them a big edge against their rivals.

The factor that will have an effect on the balance of power is coaching. Michigan made a huge mistake going to RichRod and getting away from physical football. They panicked when Tressel was racking up wins against Lloyd Carr, so they made things worse by bringing in a coach who thought he could win with Big East tactics and players. With Brady Hoke, Michigan has a good change of at least getting back to a competitive rivalry just by playing Big Ten football. Hoke is taking advantage of the current situation, so that will help speed up Michigan’s anticipated comeback. Dantonio will keep Michigan State competitive, and Ohio State will be fine either with Fickell if he proves himself or another coach next year.

Maurice Clarett sticks up for Jim Tressel and Ohio State

As an Ohio State fan, I was dreading what Maurice Clarett might say when I heard that he would be appearing on the Dan Patrick radio program this morning. The bad news has been coming out daily regarding Terrelle Pryor, and the last thing Buckeye fans needed was more allegations from Clarett.

Instead, Clarett defended Jim Tressel and Ohio State, laying the blame instead on the culture surrounding college football and the difficulty have putting inner-city kids in a situation where they’re treated like gods but have to live on a modest stipend that doesn’t cover the real costs of living in a place like Columbus.

Here’s Clarett on Tressel:

“People respect Jim Tressel because he’s a man,” Clarett said. “He’s a man’s man, you know what I mean? The guy has integrity. He has class. I look at Jim Tressel every day and just Google his name and see articles come up with reputable people sticking their necks out for him. He’s a good man who got caught up in a bad situation. You can’t be a fraud for 30 years. It’s impossible, you know what I’m saying? People could smell a fraud within the first few months. You’re going to be exposed. But for 30 years that man has been respected by the people who are very respectable throughout the country. It’s not right for that man to get done like that.”

This one is surprising, since Clarett made all sorts of allegations about Tressel in the past. Has Clarett grown up? Is he able to see Tressel’s entire body of work now that he has some perspective? Is he trying to win back favors from Ohio State fans? Life in Columbus can be very lucrative for former Buckeyes who were winners, and Clarett blew that opportunity in the past.

More importantly for Ohio State, Clarett doesn’t implicate the university in the recent scandals or with his own problems in the past:

During a sometimes rambling 13-minute interview on the Dan Patrick Radio Show on Wednesday morning, Maurice Clarett insisted there is no organized system of providing extra benefits to Ohio State football players.

“There’s no secret regime, no secret congregation of people who sit around at Ohio State and give young guys money, who say, ‘Let me give you X amount of dollars or thousands of dollars,’ nothing like that,” Clarett told Patrick on his nationally syndicated show. “Anything that any players goes and gets is all based on him and who he meets in the community. When he goes out and meets a fan or he meets somebody, he’s going to meet that person himself and create a relationship himself and do what he does. A coach has no control over what the young guys are doing, know what I’m saying?”

In light on the NCAA’s absurd decision to vacate USC’s national championship, some Buckeye fans have been dreading any news from Clarett that might stretch an investigation all the way back to the 2002 National Championship. Ohio State will face some stiff penalties, but the Buckeyes need to contain the damage.

In the end, Clarett adds to the drumbeat of players, coaches and commentators saying that the current system is deeply flawed. The flawed system doesn’t exonerate Pryor or Reggie Bush, guys who seem to have gone well beyond minor violations for petty cash, but guys like Clarett have a point when they describe the circumstances that will inevitably lead to violations in every major program.

Related Posts