Ray Small backs off comments, says reported twisted his words

After receiving a ton of backlash from Ohio State players and fans for his recent attention-seeking comments to The Lantern (OSU’s school newspaper), former Buckeye Ray Small is now backing off his words. In fact, he has even gone as far as to blame the reporter for twisting his words.

From ESPN.com:

“I’ve come back to retract my words, because there’s two sides to every story, and I want to tell the world my side of the story,” Small said in an interview Friday with Outside the Lines’ Tom Farrey.

The newspaper, The Lantern, said it stands by its story and everything Small said is on tape. On Friday, Small said he sold his own memorabilia, but he never said everyone was doing it.

Small goes on to say that the reason he sold the memorabilia was because he needed to pay his rent.

Small said he earned up to $2,000 from selling two of his Big Ten Championship rings while he was playing for the Buckeyes, acts that he knew at the time were in violation of NCAA rules.

He just didn’t care — or feel he had a choice. He needed the cash to make ends meet, he said.

“It was either break the rule or get evicted,” Small told Outside the Lines on Friday. “That was the best thing I could do. It was the smartest plan I came up with to pay my rent.”

Small, whose senior season with the Buckeyes was in 2009, said he sold the rings midway through his Buckeye career because his regular scholarship check for room and board didn’t cover his year-round costs of living in Columbus. He also felt compelled to unload them because he lacked the funds to afford a car he was driving at the time, a 2007 Chrysler 300 that carried a $600 monthly payment.

“Being young, I wasn’t good with my money,” he said. “I made a bad decision on a car and I had to pay it.”

No, you weren’t.

It sounds like Small was faced with simple money management and failed to grasp that you can’t exceed your budget. I’m not going to feel bad for him for having to sell his rings to pay the rent. The only reason he was faced with, “be evicted or pay the rent,” was because he made poor choices with his money. And then he compounded the issue by selling his rings and violating NCAA rules.

Quite frankly, I think the only reason why he’s backing off of his earlier comments (or at least part of them) is because his OSU buddies are ticked off and have responded with some unkind words for dear ol’ Ray.

“I am a Buckeye at heart,” he said.

“I never heard another player say he sold his ring,” Small said.

“Show me a coward and I will show you Ray Small,” center Mike Brewster tweeted. “He isn’t part of the sacred brotherhood anymore. Never on time, never accountable, never sacrificed for the team. Can you trust his word?”

It doesn’t appear we can, no. And actually, I don’t know anyone who can be trusted from the Ohio State football program these days.

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More trouble for the Ohio State football program

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)

Former Ohio State receiver Ray Small says that he sold rings for cash during his playing days as a Buckeye from 2006 to 2010 and also accepted car discounts during that time as well. Not only that, but Small also confirmed that other players accepted similar deals.

In an article on Friday, Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer discussed how Small’s admissions could be a big problem for Jim Tressel and the OSU football program.

Where Small’s words matter most is in the scope of the potential violations. When Ohio State announced the player violations and suspensions in December, OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith said: “We’re very fortunate we don’t have a systemic problem. It’s isolated to these young men in this particular instance.”

Bigger problems became known in March, when it was announced that Tressel had committed major NCAA violations by not revealing his previous knowledge about his players’ actions. The cases of the players have been closed, but more players selling merchandise than initially reported could create more serious violations for Ohio State and Tressel. Most troubling for Ohio State is Small’s claim that “everybody was doing it,” and those words in particular set off a firestorm of anger from former Buckeyes who resented and refuted any notion that accepting extra benefits was typical.

“What he said may have been true for him,” said former OSU cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, who played with Small, “but making it seem like it was a culture at Ohio State, that wasn’t the case. This wasn’t the norm.”

Brooks Melchior of SPORTSbyBROOKS.com has a very extensive look at how Small’s confession confirms that Gene Smith had lied to the media about Ohio State’s growing problem. You can read the piece here.

One of the many questions I have is what are Small’s motives for coming forth with this news? Does he want to help blow the lid off the story? Is he seeking attention? Is he sore at Tressel or Ohio State because of how his tenure played out as a Buckeye? Why come out unless you have a reason for doing so? And to the school paper no less.

Of course the bigger question is, and Doug Lesmerises touched on it in his article, is whether or not Ohio State has a major issue on its hands or if these are just several isolated incidents coming to surface. No matter how you slice it, none of this looks good on the program. But it’ll make a difference if the university can isolate the issue the best it can. If it can’t and the problem is widespread, then obviously OSU is in it deep.

2010 BCS Bowl Preview: 5 Things to Watch for in the Rose Bowl

Big Ten champion Ohio State will square off against Pac-10 champ Oregon in the 2010 Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day at 4:30PM ET. Here are five things to watch for when the No. 8 Buckeyes clash with the No. 7 Ducks.As part of our 2010 BCS Bowl Preview, here are five things to watch for in the Sugar Bowl.

1. Oregon’s dynamic backfield vs. Ohio State’s physical defense
The Ducks’ offensive backfield features a running back in LaMichael James that rushed for 1,476 yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging 6.9 YPC, as well as a quarterback in Jeremiah Masoli that rushed for 659 yards and 12 TDs, while also completing 58.9 percent of his passes for 2,066 yards and 15 scores. Oregon can beat opponents in a variety of ways, but Ohio State’s defense limited the opposition to only 12.2 points and 262.5 total yards per game this season. The Buckeyes are one of five FBS teams that did now allow a 100-yard individual rushing performance this year and will test the fortitude of James, Masoli and one-time Hesiman candidate LeGarrette Blount. This should be a classic battle.

2. Terrelle Pryor’s (lack of) development as a passer
Pryor was considered the top high school recruit coming into the 2008 season and was supposed to quickly transform into one of the best college football players in the nation. But after showing flashes of brilliance as a freshman last year, Pryor has been criticized more than he’s been praised this season. Among other things, he started struggling with his accuracy and decision-making and some in the media wondered if he should move to another position due to his lack of development as a quarterback. Things came to a head in mid October when he lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions in an embarrassing loss to Purdue. But in his final five games, Pryor led the Buckeyes to five straight wins (including victories over Penn State, Iowa and rival Michigan) while tossing six touchdowns and only two interceptions. The problem is that he wasn’t asked to do too much either. If Oregon’s high-powered offense starts lighting up the scoreboard, can Pryor keep Ohio State in the ballgame with his arm or will his issues as a passer bury him and the Buckeyes? Better yet, can coach Jim Tressel figure out how to best use his athletic QB?

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Florida, Ohio State could be down players for bowl games

According to a FOXSports.com report, Florida will be without Brandon James for the Sugar Bowl after the all-purpose player had surgery on his right foot.

James, a senior from St. Augustine, broke a bone in foot against Alabama in the Southeastern Conference title game and had surgery last week. Florida coach Urban Meyer says Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps and Joe Haden will take over James’ punt and kickoff return duties against No. 4 Cincinnati on New Year’s Day.

James finished with 1,324 total yards and two touchdowns this season. He had 109 yards rushing, 215 yards receiving and a score, 756 yards and a touchdown on kickoff returns and 244 yards on punt returns.

FOX is also reporting that three Ohio State players will likely be ineligible to play in the Rose Bowl.

Seniors wide receiver Ray Small and defensive lineman Rob Rose and sophomore running back Bo DeLande are likely to miss the Jan. 1 bowl game against Oregon due to a violation of team rules, the Columbus Dispatch reported on its Web site.

Freshman receiver Duron Carter was declared ineligible last week.

As of Monday morning, the school had not issued a statement regarding the status of the three players, meaning the decision may not yet be final.

Both Rose and Small had academic issues at the start of spring practice this season, although each player had talked about overcoming their problems to turn in successful seasons. Ohio State has officially confirmed that the players will be held out, but it doesn’t look good.

Losing Rose would be a hit to the Buckeyes’ defensive line depth, while Small would sorely be missed in the return game and as the team’s No. 3 wideout. Taurian Washington would likely take over as OSU’s No. 3 receiver with Carter also being held out of the Rose Bowl with academic issues.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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