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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Does Ohio State deserve a harsher penalty than USC or Tennessee? Depends on who you talk to.

Ohio State should receive the death penalty in college football for all of its recent rules violations.  Really.  Well, that is at least what many people believe should happen to the Buckeyes, with most of those people living outside of Columbus or even Ohio in general.

The above represents a rather extreme opinion, and, while there are quite a few people who believe the Buckeyes deserve that harsh of a punishment, they may still be in the minority.  The consensus is that Ohio State should receive a punishment somewhere between what Alabama received and USC received, and certainly it should be no more lenient than the penalty levied against the University of Tennessee men's basketball program.

Yet, are the crimes that Ohio State committed worse than what happened at USC?  Or Tennessee for that matter?  Well, let's look at what we know:

USC was investigated for two separate incidents, one being that Reggie Bush's parents were alleged to have a home worth at least six figures for Bush signing with an agent, all while Bush was an underclassmen at USC.  The other involved basketball standout OJ Mayo reportedly receiving thousands of dollars in cash while playing for the Trojans.  USC was ultimately found guilty of a lack of institutional control, and along with a two year postseason ban in football they had to give up 30 scholarships over a three year period.  And recently they have been forced to vacate the national title they won in '04, as well as Bush forfeited the heisman he won that year.

Tennesse has come under fire for Bruce Pearl's involvement with a recruit.  Pearl invited a  potential recruit to a barbecue at his house, when, under NCAA rules, he wasn't allowed to do so.  When Pearl was asked about the incident, he denied it ever happening. Furthermore, he has also been accused of having coached the potential recruit as to what to say if the NCAA were to question him.  The Southeastern Conference suspended Pearl for eight games.  I am not sure the NCAA has ruled on the matter yet, but Tennessee ended up firing Pearl anyway.

On to Ohio State.  Everyone by now knows about the 'tat five' as it were, and Jim Tressel's coverup of the scandal as well.  And, as we all came to find out this past memorial day, there might be even more wrongdoing.  Of course that is where I think the difference of opinion comes in.

Right now, the NCAA has not found any further wrong doing, including whether Terrelle Pryor received cash/gifts in exchange for his autograph, on the part of the Ohio State program.  At least that is what we, the general public, know for sure.  This is key because it will determine whether Ohio State is found guilty of lack of institutional control, which could mean they not only forfeit the 2010 season but also receive a postseason ban and loss of scholarships.

That is why I don't believe Ohio State will receive nearly as harsh a punishment as USC.  Without proof that coach Tressel forwarded the emails to university officials before the Buckeyes took the field against Arkansas, it will be hard to prove that they were not fostering an atmosphere of compliance.  As a matter of fact, while Jim Tressel has deceived Ohio State and the NCAA on multiple occasions, the Ohio State University officials(including Smith and Gee) have been more than accomodating in this whole process, providing the NCAA with everything requested.

Furthermore, when the Ohio State University and Jim Tressel face the committee on infractions next month, they will make a strong case that Tressel acted alone in the coverup of the allegations.  And while some may think that is a personal attack against a man who has done so much for the university, based on the facts we know, it may just be the truth.

So, at the end of the day, if the NCAA seems convinced Tressel acted alone?  I believe OSU gets a slap on the wrist, vacating 2010 season and probation ala Alabama.  Sure there will be a lot of angered fans out west, and maybe even in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but each case must be evaluated separately.  Because they are not the same violations at all.

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