"BREAKING NEWS: Suspended Ohio State Players Set to Return Next Season!" The ticker on ESPN displays.
While reading this ticker I was not at all surprised.
Then I was shocked when Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel stated his intention to suspend the players for the Sugar Bowl if they did not return to the team next season.
The five Ohio State players in question are Terrelle Pryor, Devier Posey, Dan Herron, Mike Adams, and Solomon Thomas.
Before I go into about how Jim Tressel extorted the five players I just want to say if these five players actually did pledge before Coach Tressel issued his ultimatum then what he did was no big deal.
In my opinion selling your own personal possessions should not warrant a suspension but that is a moot point.
Even with a full ride the cost of living on campus is extremely expensive especially for lower income students who need scholarships.
The suspension ruling itself makes no sense.
They should have suspended the five players for the Bowl Game and whatever the NCAA deems appropriate for next season.
But all of the circumstances behind the suspension are bygones and thus irrelevant.
Getting back to the motives of Jim Tressel, all of these players are juniors and thus NFL Draft eligible. Don't think for a second Coach Tressel forgot that.
Coach Tressel made each of them pledge to return in 2011 or else not play in the Sugar Bowl.
A pledge is an obligation or a commitment.
It is Coach Tressel's prerogative to control playing time for his players. But this is beyond dictating playing time.
Threatening to not play them in the Sugar Bowl if any of these players did not return for next season is wrong.
In fact, it fits the textbook definition for extortion in dictionary.com.
Extortion- the crime of obtaining money or some other thing of value by the abuse of one's office or authority.
Jim Tressel making his five players take a pledge to return next season clearly gives him something of value.
Coach Tressel suspending them for the Sugar Bowl if they do not return for next season could very well be an abuse of authority.
To paraphrase what Tressel himself said, the players would not go unpunished even if they declared early for the Draft.
Since when did coaches have the integrity to do this? I have never seen that before.
Normally coaches would sweep all of this scandal under the rug and play their players. Numerous examples can be made of this.
Defending Coach Tressel he is not known for cheating in his thirty plus years of coaching.
His professionalism is something to be admired among the college football community.
But is Jim Tressel justified in punishing already suspended players or is he heavily pressuring them to return by threatening to take away the Sugar Bowl from them?
Let's take a look at the five players in question.
Terrelle Pryor is obviously the quarterback. Dan Herron is their starting tailback. DeVier Posey is one of Pryor's top targets. Mike Adams protects Pryor's blindside as starting left tackle. Solomon Thomas is a backup defensive end.
Four out of these five players are key offensive players for Ohio State.
Thomas is in the mix to start next season as the starting defensive end once Cameron Heyward -a senior- moves on to the NFL.
Theoretically Tressel must believe this ultimatum won't make a significant impact on each player's decision.
To Tressel's credit Terrelle Pryor has made it clear his desire to return next season before the suspension.
DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, and Dan Herron would have most likely returned as well as their draft stocks were not very high.
Realistically Solomon Thomas as a 230 pound end would not have sniffed the NFL had he declared.
With that being said it does not seem like Coach Tressel had to do any extra motivating.
Forcing your players to return for next season -or else not play in the Sugar Bowl- in the name of justice or fairness is borderline cheating.
The fact is these men have already received a punishment from the NCAA.
Coach Tressel imposing additional punishment if they consider leaving for the NFL is inappropriate to say the least.
Apparently these players are forced to return for next season lest they be punished for deeds committed this season.
No coach should ever punish or reward a player for a positive or negative deed done in previous seasons.
Bottom line: Forcing someone to come back for next season or else face punishment for this season is unacceptable.