Monday, October 03, 2011

It just keeps getting better

I'm working on my Week 5 recap-type thing right now, but this couldn't wait:

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State is in trouble with the NCAA again, this time because five Buckeyes players -- including two who have already been sitting out for taking cash and free tattoos -- accepted too much money for too little work in their summer jobs.

Last year's leading rusher, Dan Herron, and the top returning receiver, DeVier Posey, along with offensive lineman Marcus Hall will not be permitted to play when the Buckeyes play at No. 14 Nebraska on Saturday. Two other players also were overpaid for the summer work, which included working at a car wash or picking up scrap metal. Defensive lineman Melvin Fellows is out with a medical hardship and starting linebacker Etienne Sabino has already been reinstated by the NCAA.

It boggles the mind. In the nine(-ish) months since all the original tattoo stuff came out, there have now been eight additional players suspended for taking improper benefits. Eight! But, I mean, that's obviously not a "systemic" problem:

Athletic director Gene Smith insisted at a Monday afternoon news conference that there was no "systemic" problem at Ohio State, which has admitted to having several players involved in different NCAA violations over the past 10 months.

He blamed it all on the athletes, former coach Jim Tressel and a booster who on Monday was banned from further contact with the Buckeyes.

The booster who paid the players, Cleveland-area businessman Bobby DiGeronimo, was dissociated from the program after years of being a friend of Buckeyes football players and a major fan. Smith declined to answer a question about why Ohio State had not looked closer at DiGeronimo and his relationship with players.

So it's just a whole bunch of players. And the former coach. And some of the boosters. But it's definitely not systemic, so that's good. By the way, that DiGeronimo guy was the one who ran the charity event that set up cash payments (through the always-fun Terrelle Pryor) to three players earlier this year. Of course he can employ players!

The best line from that ESPN story:
Ohio State has had so many players suspended or in trouble that Smith, who spoke and answered questions for 18 minutes, has to differentiate between the tattoo-related violations -- "the broader issue" as he calls it -- and other suspensions.
Yup, that pretty much says it all. Gene Smith now needs pie charts to clarify which NCAA violations he's referring to when he addresses the media. "No, not those guys -- the other guys, the ones who took benefits. No, not those benefits -- the ones from the booster. No, the other booster."

So throw another log onto the already-towering inferno; this will get added to the NCAA's case and presumably play some role in the eventual punishment, although Smith denies that last part (duh). He's like Columbus' version of Baghdad Bob, clinging to the belief that "EVERYTHING IS FINE AND WE ARE DOMINATING THE INFIDELS" even as it becomes laughably obvious that the propaganda is in direct opposition to reality.

I've given up trying to figure out how the Committee on Infractions works, but seriously: When that streamlined NCAA rule book gets put together, the section that defines "lack of institutional control" should just be replaced by "the stuff everyone at Ohio State is doing."

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