I’d be really excited about this, to be honest, if all things were equal. Given the bad PR that my favorite program received over the past few years for numerous self inflicted wounds, it’s great to get excited about OSU football again- and to see a national response (including Southern Cal and Clemson recruits commenting on it) that was pretty positive.
But, I’ll be honest- It’s still hard for me to not be wary about this series. You kick a dog and reach to pet him, he’ll wince and cower even if he lets you stroke his head again. Given what we know about ESPN’s agenda (Entertainment Sports Programming Network), it safe to see that they are interested in a narrative of redemption up until the point that they bang the drums marking a fall from grace.
Just watch the history- 2002 upset their narrative, and then the 2003 Clarett story was a bottom. The 2006 season’s coverage was the apex of good vibes, and then this past year seems to be yet another trough in their coverage- again, a story that Ohio State wrote for itself, but one that got presented over and over and over again on the largest stage while others were way way off Broadway in Coral Gables and Columbia and Chapel Hill.
So- we’ll watch (yup) and see. And, if nothing else, this will give us the chance to celebrate the splendor and power of an Ohio State team on a very particular mission. Buckle Buckeye up.
Earning Your Stripes- Or, more correctly, earning their removal. Today Tommy Schutt became the next defensive player to have his rite of passage and his “newbie stripe” taken off his helmet by his big brother. He joined Noah Spence and De’Van Bogard as the first three who were “welcomed” to Buckeye football. This afternoon, their numbers grew as Taylor Decker was the next first offensive rookie to cross the line into “Buckeye manhood”. Really excited about this process, and it sounds like it’s something that everyone has really bought into.
In Case You Missed It- Here’s the schedule for the All Access schedule:
This Week In Scandal
Speaking Of Chapel Hill- Things just keep getting worse for those with Heels of Tar. Following the continued academic scandal regarding student athletes (particularly basketball and football) being funneled into “less than strenuous” classes in the African American Studies program, this week saw the beginning of a backlash as many in the larger media sources began discovering this story as well. Eleven Warriors’ Ramzy even made it the focus of an article decrying media coverage of these stories, and pointed out what we’ve been saying for a while- the academic nature of this situation hits at the very heart of the “student athlete” myth, particularly in cases where those athletes are students of color.
Following up, it seems that louder cries for “justice” could be heard as people began questioning the NCAA’s response, or lack thereof, thus far. Given that president Emmert has stated that this matter is not within the Association’s purview other than the sanctions already given (his argument: We can’t tell a school how to teach their students or not), it wasn’t a surprise to hear other voices asking what made this cow sacred when institutional issues were also at the heart of the mess in Happy Valley. The Sporting News’ Matt Hayes went as far as pointing to the North Carolina situation as being one that could possibly change the entire “game” of amateurism-
This, Mr. Emmert, is the foundation of amateur sports. This, Mr. Emmert, is the one thing that can bring down the façade that is billions in television dollars on the backs of student-athletes. This, Mr. Emmert, is the very thing that can and will underscore the one dirty secret the NCAA has tried for decades to hide: college sports is a glorified minor leagues for professional sports.
The NCAA has no problem telling high schools — where it has zero jurisdiction — what qualifies as a core course and what doesn’t. It has no problem telling high school athletes whether their coursework is legitimate enough to pass the NCAA eligibility smell test or is subject to review.
Yet when it comes to the legitimacy of classwork done on a college campus, where technically the NC(as in collegiate)AA has some sway, it lets the individual institutions police themselves.
Peppers In The Wound- If those things weren’t enough, the UNC narrative that this was limited to the past administration which was now long gone started to fall apart this weekend with allegations that Julius Peppers had issues of academic “shadyness” throughout his entire transcript. Peppers, who left Chapel Hill well before the dates in question in the current investigation, inadvertently had his transcript published by the University as a part of a training exercise… or, if not HIS transcript, one that looks amazingly similar. The issues that surface are also covered by Deadspin; particularly that these transcripts seem to show that Pepper’s academic “successes” were in classes in the now highly scrutinized African American Studies program and via independent studies. In addition to those issues is the matter of the transcript’s release- unless it was done with the student’s permission, this is a major violation of the FERPA guidelines established by the Department of Education. And, unfortunately, we know via our friends at PSU that the DoE certainly cares deeply about their guidelines being followed.
Something The NCAA Does Care About- As mentioned in the ESPN article above, we know that they can get really interested in situations of academic “creativity” at the high school level- the NCAA, for instance, recently released a new set of guidelines regarding factors that must be in place for a student get cleared to play at an NCAA institution. That’s why the two recent situations in Alabama are intriguing; An Auburn student had the opportunity to meet with the AHSAA to discuss his transfer to a new high school, which coincided with a change from an Alabama verbal to an Auburn one. Additionally, an Alabama verbal has transferred schools in a move that has upset his former coach. There are allegations that the student was told he’d be “taken care of” academically at the new locale- don’t they know you have to wait until you’re enrolled at North Carolina for that to happen?
In Ann Arbor- News was that the legal issues of Fitzgerald Toussaint (DUI) and Frank Clark (Theft) would be allowed to practice during the pre-season, with speculation being that they could see the field against Alabama. You’ve got to wonder if this decision would be the same if the Tide were later in their schedule… check their docket out to see what I mean:
Never Not Funny
Penn State News- On Sunday, the PSU Board of Trustees had a meeting where they decided that they weren’t allowed to have a meeting, and just voiced their opinions on the acting president’s decision to agree with the NCAA’s sanctions. I’m sure there will be a later meeting where they’ll decide about meeting to officially sign off on Mark Emmert’s decision.
Meanwhile- Things are getting more interesting by the day in Happy Valley, and the NCAA is the least of their worries. As we discussed, once this situation starts impacting other areas of campus or the very fabric of the University’s mission, there’s a real possibility that things are going to get ugly. This week saw one such incident, as the University received notification and then a warning regarding their accreditation being in jeopardy. For those of you playing at home, an institution that loses accreditation has graduates whose diplomas carry significantly less weight-particularly if they try to continue their education in other graduate programs. These communications, though, are merely indications that the Middle States Commission on Higher Education wants Penn State to supply evidence to indicate how they are addressing the concerns raised by the Freeh Report, including (I assume) Clery compliance. I’m hopeful that they will be able to meet the MSCHE’s request so that the rest of the campus is not impacted.
No End In Sight- News that the feds were investigating to see whether Sandusky may have sent child pornography via mail also led to rumors that this could get a lot uglier, if that’s even possible.
Something Going to Quack? Also spinning around the web on Tuesday were rumors that Oregon would soon find out it’s fate in the ongoing investigation. The sanctions that were tossed around (4 yrs probation, 2 yrs bowl ban, 30 lost scholarships over 3 years, recruiting limitations) were coupled with speculation that a few current Ducks might find themselves ineligible. However, the University has stated that these rumors have no basis in fact- and since no one has heard or seen the Notice of Allegations, it’s probably just wishful thinking on the behalf of Huskies fans.
Or Something Bruin? UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammed isn’t traveling with the team to China. There’s speculation that his eligibility may be jeopardized due to improper benefits. As long as it wasn’t tattoos, I’m sure it’s no big deal.