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There May Be Smoke In The SEC, But Ohio State Is Burning Down

For all the talk of the SEC’s improprieties, bent rules and under-the-table shenanigans in recent months, Mike Slive’s league looks pretty darn clean when compared to the messy state of affairs in Columbus, Ohio these days.  For those who haven’t seen it, an ESPN report has revealed an even bigger worry for the Ohio State football program – the possibility that players have been paid to sign memorabilia.

According to, the NCAA has notified OSU of “dozens of payments (Terrelle) Pryor received in past years from a Columbus sports memorabilia dealer.”  For one player to be on the receiving end of thousands of dollars of illegal payments is bad enough, but if the memorabilia dealer in question is tied to other Buckeyes — as is suspected by many in Columbus — it could be a body blow for OSU’s program.

Fun as it may be, this post isn’t an attempt to rub salt in the wounds of Buckeye fans.  The average OSU fan just cheers for his team.  He doesn’t give players free tattoos, discount cars or thousands of dollars for their autographs.

Instead, we simply wanted to point out how quickly all of this information is emerging.  In the last three months investigations have uncovered:

* Multiple Buckeye players trading merchandise for tattoos and — allegedly — marijuana in some cases

* More than 50 Buckeye players all buying cars — some at deep discounts — from the same dealer

* Payments made for signed merchandise from a collectibles dealer to OSU’s biggest star, Pryor

* Lies from ex-coach Jim Tressel regarding just who exactly he told about the initial tattoo situation

* Inaccuracies in the “all’s well, we’re clean” pronouncements from OSU athletic director Gene Smith and president Gordon Gee

Not good. 

Now consider what’s been going on in the SEC.  The league has taken a big black eye because the NCAA has been snooping around the South for the better part of a year, but no school’s facing a wipeout like Ohio State.

For example:

* After months of digging into the Tennessee football, basketball and baseball programs, the biggest issues in basketball stemmed from a coach lying about secondary violations and the Vols’ football program avoided a failure to monitor charge when it was handed to ex-coach Lane Kiffin instead.  UT will go before the NCAA on Friday, but its hearing probably won’t be anywhere near as bad as what OSU might eventually face.

* Despite rumors, accusations, slung mud, and even some alleged audio tapes, the NCAA has dug up exactly bupkes on Auburn to this point.  That doesn’t mean that FBI wiretapes and perhaps Abraham Zapruder haven’t caught some evidence of some wrongdoing by someone — the NCAA is still investigating, of course — but for now, there’s not been the kind of info spill in Auburn that we’ve seen in Columbus.  Despite all the finger-pointing.

* LSU took immediate action against a player and a coach after it uncovered and self-reported some illegal recruiting activities.  The Tigers are still waiting for the NCAA’s thumbs-up that they’ve done enough.  And there have also been questions raised about a recruiting service — meaning: street agent — that LSU might have used in connection to former cornerback Patrick Peterson, but like Tennessee and Auburn, one find hasn’t led to another and another and another as it has at OSU.

On and on the list goes.  Georgia and AJ Green.  South Carolina and The Whitney Hotel.  Alabama and Brent Calloway.  Plenty of talk, little dirt.  At least so far.

At this stage, a few smoke alarms might’ve gone off in the SEC, but a full-fledged four-alarm blaze is raging in Ohio.  Maybe the SEC will go down in flames eventually, but to date, NCAA and national media investigators have had a much easier time finding violations at Ohio State than they have in the Southeastern Conference.

Slive and company — their reputations damaged — can take some solace in that fact, at least.



  1. [...] Latest Bama News 6/8/2011 THERE MAY BE SMOKE IN THE SEC, BUT OHIO STATE IS BURNING DOWN Reply With Quote + Reply to [...]

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