Maurice Clarett - trading handcuffs for textbooks
Dave Thurman (10:15 am)

"Strange days have found us."  To borrow a line from The Doors (and yes I am showing my age), the past week has been a very interesting one in Columbus, and at times, downright bizzare.  Here are the items that have headlined Buckeye news:

1.  Jack Tatum passes away - Indeed, he was a legend, and none of us was ready to bid farewell.  When I recently ranked Ohio State's greatest defensive backs, Tatum ended up number one, above notables like Mike Doss, Antoine Winfield, and Mike Sensibaugh.  Not only was Jack a great player in college and the NFL, but he was a true Buckeye through and through, who bled Scarlet and Gray.  It is a shame that so many remember him only for his hit on Darryl Stingley.  Tatum was a "throwback" football player who personified the old maxim, "No quarter asked, no quarter given."  But he was also a humanitarian who worked tirelessly raising money to fight diabetes.  Certainly he will be missed, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and three children.

2.  Maurice Clarett returns to class - When Maurice bid farewell to Columbus seven years ago, nobody would have ever dreamed that he would be returning in 2010 to take classes.  Things didn't turn out as he planned, and instead of NFL stardom, he spent 3 1/2 years in a Toledo prison.  Now, attempting to pick up the pieces of his shattered life, Clarett is going to try hitting the books, presumably for the first time!  Some fans have cut all ties with Maurice, and wish he would just disappear forever, but I for one, am rooting for him.

Call me sentimental if you want, but I can't help but remember his contributions to the 2002 National Championship team.  Ohio State would not have won that title without him.  And, I also sympathize with his rough upbringing, and the intense pressure Clarett faced as the spotlight was cast on him from the moment he entered high school.  While I am not excusing his behavior or actions, I do believe that few people would have handled that kind of situation well.  So I am cheering for Maurice, even though I have not forgotten some of his deragatory remarks towards the Buckeyes. 
The real story with all of this is the manner in which Jim Tressel went to bat for Clarett, helping him reenroll at OSU.  Considering the less than complimentary things Maurice had to say about his former coach it would have been easy to ignore him, or kick him when he was down.  But that is not the way JT does things, and I for one, am thankful to have a coach who believes in second chances, and sees building character as even more important than winning football games.  Considering the present climate in college football, Buckeye fans should feel very blessed to have a class act at the helm.

3.  Trey DePriest prepares to make his choice - Talk about drama.  This has been a soap opera the past couple of weeks, as reports have surfaced indicating that he is a lock for Alabama, followed by rumors that he is leaning to Ohio State, followed by still more updates that he is solidly in the 'Bama camp afterall.  When he announces this Friday at 5 PM, I look for Trey to head down south.  And, if he opts to play for Nick Saban rather than Jim Tressel, choosing flash over substance, then you have to shrug your shoulders and move on. 

Unlike many OSU fans I don't think the sky is falling, even if the team fails to reel in the best linebacker in the state two years in a row.  Sure, Jordan Hicks and Trey DePriest would look great in Scarlet and Gray, but the team will field quality players at the position regardless.  In the past decade, players like James Laurinaitis, A.J. Hawk, and Brian Rolle, were not the most ballyhooed coming out of high school, and they have done just fine.  And, early reports on Scott McVey indicate that he may be the next big surprise.  So I am not ringing my hands, and I am thankful that JT continues to go after young men who want to be Buckeyes.  That formula has worked pretty well, and I think it will continue to produce results in the days to come.


07/28/2010 07:47

Yes, the word is DePriest gave Alabama a silent verbal already. It will hurt for sure, though I think this class is going to be amazing with or without him.

07/28/2010 13:30

A couple of comments on your article. First, let me say that, as an old-timer myself, I have never seen a better football player in my life than Jack Tatum. Instinctive, fast, ferocious, and intelligent. A sad day for his family and his fans. Secondly, I would like to weigh in as a card-carrying admirer of Jim Tressel and the way he conducts the business of OSU football. A man of integrity, faith, and compassion. I feel blessed to be a Buckeye fan in the era of Tresselball!

07/29/2010 07:07

Greg - I agree. Tatum is up there with best players I have watched in m lifetime.

07/30/2010 07:51

buckeyenut - where did you see that he gave a silent verbal? i'm actually encouraged that he visited tosu this week. so we'll see what happens...


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