The spotlight of player misconduct has been shining brightly on Ohio State this week. The school announced on Monday that four Buckeyes were "disciplined" in connection to various legal issues, a move that will be a heavy topic of conversation at the 2013 Big Ten Media Days in Chicago.
Senior running back Carlos Hyde was among the four players disciplined on Monday. Hyde, who played in 10 of Ohio State's 12 games in 2012, was mentioned as a person of interest by the Columbus Police Department in connection to a recent nightclub assault.
A new report from Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson appears to have exonerated Hyde. According to Robinson's sources, a surveillance tape at the nightclub has shown that Hyde did not strike the woman who claimed to be assaulted during Saturday's early-morning hours.
If Hyde is cleared of any connection to the alleged assault, he should not use the news as a reason to continue flirting with the long arm of the law. In fact, Hyde has a duty to his teammates, his head coach and Ohio State University to be a model citizen for the remainder of his time in college.
According to initial reports, Hyde struck a woman in the face outside of Sugar Bar 2, the Columbus nightclub in question.
ElevenWarriors.com managed to obtain a copy of the police report that was filed at the department and mentioned Hyde as a person of interest.
When news first broke of Hyde's connection to trouble, it was reported that he had been dismissed from the team. This tweet from CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman confirms:
However, when Ohio State and head coach Urban Meyer addressed the situation via press release on Monday, Hyde was listed as "suspended from all football team activities pending the outcome of the student code of conduct and criminal investigations."
With buzz surrounding the surveillance tape likely to be a major talking point for reporters at Big Ten Media Days on Wednesday, Bonnie Bernstein pondered whether or not Meyer will move to reinstate Hyde when the Columbus Police Department officially rules on the case:
Meyer will take the podium at Big Ten Media Days at 1:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Hyde is expected to have a big season for the Buckeyes. He was part of the team that went 12-0 in 2012 and rushed for 970 yards as a junior last season, easily his highest individual output in three years on campus.
The 6'0", 240-pound running back also had 16 touchdowns in 2012.
Buckeye Nation on Twitter had some of Meyer's comments about Hyde back in April. As you can see, the coaching staff is expecting big things from Hyde if he's lining up in the backfield each time Ohio State prepares for battle:
As announced by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum, Hyde was one of 63 backs mentioned on the preseason Doak Walker watch list. The Florida native is the thunder to quarterback Braxton Miller's lightning, and, together, they are expected to anchor a potent Buckeye rushing attack in 2013.
Hyde can't anchor anything if he isn't on the field.
Ohio State's football program has been no stranger to controversy over the past few years. Former head coach Jim Tressel resigned in 2011 amid an improper player benefits scandal that dragged former Buckeyes Terrell Pryor and others through the mud.
Former two-term president Gordon Gee also announced his retirement earlier this year.
Although not directly involved in decisions involving the athletic program, Gee had been no stranger to headlines and joked that he was "hopeful the coach doesn't dismiss [him]" when he was responding to questions about the future of Tressel in 2011.
The Aaron Hernandez allegations have also shone light on Meyer. According to a New York Times piece from Greg Bishop, there were 31 player arrests during Meyer's six-year run with the Florida Gators from 2005 to 2010.
Monday's announcement that four Buckeyes were being disciplined for more off-the-field drama is another byproduct of the idea that Ohio State—and Meyer himself—are not doing everything they can to ensure players are making the most out of their college experience.
By "doing everything they can," I'm not talking about giving them free reign in a college town to lavish in the spoils of being a college athlete. Stability, accountability and threat of consequences are the buzz words that need to be instilled by all Ohio State personnel as football tries to become the primary focus.
Hyde has a chance to be a role model for his teammates and young players who might look up to him. He's owed a big apology by those who wrote him off when allegations of his misconduct first broke, but the best way to prove doubters wrong is by accomplishing the thing they doubted you for.
In this case, it means Hyde staying out of trouble and being a star for the football team this season.
Sorry, Johnny Manziel fans. The I'm a 20-year-old college student so let me be excuse shouldn't fly anymore. Manziel, Hyde and so many other college football players have a duty to be a direct representative of the values that their schools advertise to parents of students and student-athletes alike.
In the spirit of fairness, 98 percent of college athletes are excellent beacons for their schools. When it's all said and done, we may look back at this saga and apologize profusely to Hyde for ever dragging his name through the mud based on the accusations of a woman at a bar.
That being said, putting yourself in that kind of situation must be avoided. If that means thinking twice about staying out until 2 a.m., then that's what it means. Life is more than just parties and having fun, especially when you have been blessed with the ability to play sports at the college level.
With about a month before the 2013 college football season begins for Hyde and Ohio State, football, school and hard work need to take precedence over the Y.O.L.O. (you only live once) mentality.
The legacies of Ohio State, the Urban Meyer football era and Hyde himself might just hang in the balance.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.
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