The No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes are in the thick of the College Football Playoff race even without the services of star defensive lineman Noah Spence.
The Big Ten officially ruled Spence ineligible for the remainder of 2014, so he won't be able to help Ohio State out down the stretch. Bryan Fischer of NFL.com reported the news after Spence's unsuccessful appeal hearing concluded Tuesday:
Eleven Warriors tweeted a statement from Buckeyes athletic director Gene Smith:
Spence was suspended for the second time in nine months in September after testing positive for the drug ecstasy twice. The Columbus Dispatch's Tim May, Bill Rabinowitz and Mark Znidar outlined the conference rules that are keeping Spence off of the gridiron when initially reporting on the suspension:
The Big Ten classifies ecstasy as a performance-enhancing drug, even though it is better known as a party drug. The conference policy for performance enhancers upon a second offense is that the player "shall be declared permanently ineligible for all further intercollegiate competition in all sports."
Rabinowitz provided a bit more background ahead of Tuesday's hearing, noting Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer didn't play a role in the saga:
The news involving Spence hardly comes as a surprise in light of Big Ten rules. Spence had 50 total tackles (14.0 TFL) with 7.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 2013, per CFBStats.com. Now that the junior is banished for good from the Big Ten, it is likely Spence will take his talents to the NFL draft.
He suggested as much on his Twitter account after today's news:
In a 2015 class that figures to be loaded with pass-rushers, Spence may have a hard time sticking out from the talented crowd given his past. However, if he gets a chance in the NFL and can develop at a gradual rate in a stable organization, he has the makings of rewarding a team's faith despite his off-field mishaps.