Sugar Bowl 2011: Will Ohio State Be Honorable and Bench Five Selfish Players?

Joe CollegeCorrespondent IDecember 27, 2010

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 27:  Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes gets ready to call the play in the huddle against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Does the President of Ohio State, Gordon Gee, believe the Buckeye football players who were suspended for five games next season are “worthy” of playing in the Sugar Bowl?

If he is concerned about ethics and integrity at Ohio State, he should speak up now and suspend the players from the bowl.

If not, he should remain silent, letting the world know that Ohio State is more interested in winning at any cost than running a program that has a sense of honor.

The players showed no honor. They sold their Big Ten championship rings, gold pants and jerseys. It showed how little these mercenaries cared about these awards. This is as low as it gets. All Buckeye fans should be outraged by this despicable, selfish behavior.

Fans also should be disgusted by the hypocritical Ohio State athletic director who is allowing these players to participate in the Sugar Bowl. In effect, the university is rewarding the players for being dishonest. A bowl win is not worth losing the integrity and honor of Ohio State. These athletes demonstrated no loyalty to Ohio State. 

They broke the rules and should be punished. They should not be allowed to avoid reprimands, which they can do by declaring for the draft after the bowl game.

Gene Smith, Ohio State's athletic director, certainly doesn’t wear the badge of honor. He is already appealing the decision in an effort to reduce the suspensions. He negotiated with the NCAA to allow the players to participate in the Sugar Bowl based on this principle of inadequate education of the NCAA rules provided by the seven Ohio State compliance officers.

If we believe the spin that this was ineptitude on the part of compliance officers, then selling of memorabilia by other teams at Ohio State must be rampant. Don’t believe it. The decision was solely based on improving Ohio State’s poor bowl record and keeping TV ratings high. It shows how desperate the Buckeyes are to win against an SEC team.

Didn’t Smith and the Ohio State players know that Georgia’s A.J. Green was suspended for selling his jersey earlier this year? Green was suspended for four games starting immediately after the infraction was revealed. Why is Ohio State’s suspension different?

Why? Because Gene Smith has taken the position that these uneducated Buckeyes were incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong. He claims they sold their Buckeye memorabilia to help their parents economically. Any rational human being could see that the players were motivated only by greed.

Smith needs to check to see how many of the players have cell phones, iPods, laptops, wide screen TVs, diamond ear studs and expensive tattoos. He should check to see what kind of cars they are driving, how they furnish their apartments and the type of classes they are enrolled in. He likely knows what he would find.

That brings us to Jim Tressel. He is a coach. All coaches know one thing: Winning. If he could step out of coaching attire and examine the situation objectively, he would bench the players for the Sugar Bowl. That would be the right thing to do. The question is about his boldness. Can he stand up to do the honorable thing?

Whether Ohio State is 0-10 or 1-9 against the SEC really doesn’t matter. Outside of Columbus, the Buckeyes will remain the mockery of college football. This recent scandal will override anything the Buckeyes do on the gridiron.

A win in the Sugar Bowl isn’t worth the price of sacrificing respectability. The players have proven they don’t care about respectability. The bigger question is will Ohio State care?