Thursday, December 23, 2010

Go (for the) Bucks!! (UPDATED AT BOTTOM)

Well,, E. Gordon.

Yes, I'm unfairly poking fun at the president of Ohio State, but I am certainly not attempting to detract from the stupidity of some of its football players.

Let me tell you about the "Gold Pants", should you not be familiar with that Ohio State tradition. If the Buckeyes defeat the Michigan Wolverines, Ohio State's arch-rival, then each player receives a pendant-size gold pants. To give you an idea of how important that is to some players, one former player -- Jim Lachey, with whom I used to work at the Ohio News Network, and who is one of the greatest people you'll ever meet -- had a gold necklace added to it and gave the pendant to his wife.

She showed off the necklace to me as he relayed the aforementioned story as we prepared a report prior to an OSU-Michigan game. Jim is a proud Buckeye, and that allegiance is not evident in some of the men who now wear that uniform. 

To see the Buckeyes' starting quarterback selling it as if it was some throwaway item is an embarrassment to himself. Not to the university, mind you, which couldn't have known that Terrell Pryor thought so little of the accomplishments of his teammates.

Perhaps Pryor will do the right thing here and pay the fine without challenging it. But more importantly, let's hope he's man enough to apologize to his teammates and the Ohio State fans for his selfishness.

1st UPDATE: 5:04 p.m. EST: ESPN's Pat Forde offers an important opinion to this "sell-my-stuff" story -- the NCAA's decision to suspend the players next season is hard to understand and justify. He notes that
Commerce aside, deferring punishment until after the biggest game of the season doesn't seem like the greatest deterrent to future rule-breaking. Especially in this instance, when the rule breakers have the option to go pro instead of ever paying the piper.

Seems to me that if these guys were busted for breaking the rules, the punishment should be rendered in a timely fashion. Like, now. No matter how inconvenient it might be, or how "unique" the "opportunity" it is to play in a bowl.

Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples notes that the NCAA is hypocritical to punish players for doing something it authorizes -- the sale of game-used paraphernalia. His advice to the players -- tell the NCAA and Ohio State to go you-know-where:

Each of you provides more value to your school than you receives from your scholarship. You all contributed to three Big Ten titles. You all contributed to three teams that made BCS bowls. In two of those years, your team was a BCS at-large selection, which brought in millions more for the Big Ten. Did you get a bonus in your scholarship check the next semester for your contributions to the financial health of your athletic department and to the athletic departments of 10 other Big Ten schools? Didn't think so.
So now you have a chance to make real money in exchange for your unique skill sets. Take it. Stop feeding a system designed to exploit you.
Another columnist, Jeff Svoboda, who covers Ohio State on a daily basis, says to blame just the NCAA is wrong; he believes this story is an example of everyone doing the wrong thing

Let's accept that the NCAA could have -- and should have -- suspended the players for the upcoming Sugar Bowl and for a portion of the 2011 season. Let's also accept that Ohio State could have -- and should have -- been more proactive in providing appropriate instructions to its players.

But we cannot lose sight of the overarching issue -- the players broke the rules (however flawed they might be). In doing so they thumbed their noses at Ohio State's tradition and football alumni, and they showed themselves to be typical of far too many college and pro athletes: putting themselves first. In short, "I can do what I want because I am _________."

Great legacy, guys.

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