I would really like to forget today happened. Not only is it a black eye for the Ohio State program, but I really don't want to deal with the fallout from the national media and rival fans. Already fans from some of Big Ten schools are throwing OSU under the bus, via the social media and message boards, which should be expected since the Buckeyes have dominated them for a decade now. Sometimes it's ugly to be on top.
With that said, I am not nearly as irrational as some of the fans and reporters I am reading on Twitter. Many are ready to completely excommunicate the players involved forever, many even hoping they will now head to the NFL. Apparently even Herbie was very outspoken on the issue, saying this was "addition by subtraction" and a very selfish act by Pryor and the OSU players. While I'm not going to defend what the players did, because it was obviously not smart and against the rules, we all have to remember these guys are 18-22 year olds. In fact, according to Gene Smith's timeline given at the press conference, all of the items were sold prior to the 2009 season (before they were even sophomores). We all do dumb things in our youth, and unfortunately for Pryor and company, their mistakes was made for the world to see. As Buckeyes fans I think we have to be a bit more rational in the midst of all of this. I like what Jon Thoma's tweet said:
"This is when your boys need you most Buckeyenation. Through thick and thin. From adversity will come greatness."
Anyway, off my soap box now, here are a few thoughts about the press conference and ruling.
- Watching the presser, it was very clear that Gene Smith wanted to protect the players more than Tressel. JT was visibly frustrated and even commented that he needed the break over Christmas so he could cool down and become more "jolly." In fact, it was Smith that several times claimed the players were doing this for their families and had done so out of innocence (which Pryor's HS coach is claiming as well). He also made it clear that they did this thinking that it was their stuff and that were not breaking any rules. Now if anyone buys into this, I have no idea.
- Gene Smith also called the NCAA ruling "severe" and that the Buckeyes will be appealing the decision. I have a hard time believing they can get this suspension below four games. If the five games stand, I can easily see the Buckeyes losing 1-2 games during that stretch as they play Colorado, Miami (FL), and Michigan State.
- It will be interesting to see what implications this has for each of the players about entering the NFL Draft. Tressel pointed out that this would not be the best of times for a job interview, but in reality it's better than sitting out half a season. I don't think any of the players listed are NFL ready, maybe Mike Adams, but we'll see what they decide.
- Finally, it's great to see the players supporting their teammates, even when fans are not. Guys like Andrew Sweat, Jake Stoneburner, Jermale Hines, Jack Mewhort, Travis Howard and Carlos Hyde have all tweeted in support of their teammates. I'm sure many of them are as surprised as we are, but I appreciate their response. Also, Mike Brewster tweeted this:
"Why couldn't we get the investigators that handled the auburn case??"
There ya have it. Merry Christmas.