Former Ohio State head football coach John Cooper was at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club recently and said that the five Ohio State players, including former starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, should not have played in the Sugar Bowl, which Arkansas lost 31-26, against the Razorbacks this past bowl season.
Cooper has a career 194-84-6 record as a head coach for Tulsa, Arizona State, and Ohio State, with a .720 winning percentage (111-43-4) for the Buckeyes from 1988-2000. In an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article by Tom Murphy, Cooper said, â€śThose are the guys that won the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.â€ť
Instead of suspending Pryor, tailback Dan Herron, offensive tackle Mike Adams, receiver DeVier Posey and defensive end Solomon Thomas for the Sugar Bowl, the NCAA suspended the players for the first five games of the 2011 season.
The players were suspended for selling championship rings and memorabilia, and taking discounts from a tattoo parlor. A big no no. Apparently not big enough.
Cooper was right about the players winning the game for Ohio State. Pryor was 14 of 25 for 221 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 114 yards. Herron ran for 81 yards and a TD, Posey caught three passes for 70 yards and a TD, and Thomas made an interception with 58 seconds left to seal the win for the Buckeyes. Adams was part of an offensive line that blocked for 225 rushing yards.
Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said late last December before the Sugar Bowl that the players would not have played in the BCS bowl if they had not promised to return in 2011. Tressel (who was fired as coach because he knew about the the playersâ€™ wrongs and didnâ€™t report them) said he wanted to make sure the players would not â€śskirt the consequencesâ€ť by playing in the Sugar Bowl, then declaring to the NFL draft to avoid punishment.
Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino said in an AP article before the Sugar Bowl that he wanted the players to be eligible for the game because he wanted to play against their best players. I agreed with Petrino, wanting the Hogs to play against the Buckeyesâ€™ best players, but that does not let the NCAA off the hook for letting them play. Though I wanted them to play, there was no way they should have been allowed to play.
The NCAA said they did not suspend the players for the Sugar Bowl because they did not receive adequate rules educations during the time period the violations occurred. What? So when exactly are they supposed to get this education? Maybe during freshmen orientation?
According to the same AP article, four of the players sold their 2008 BigTen championship rings for $1,000 to $1,200 each; Herron sold his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000; Solomon and Pryor each sold their gold pants from beating Michigan for several hundred dollars; and Pryor even sold his 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award. What a sport.
Consider the consequences skirted. Pryor did indeed punk out out on his pledge and quit the team amid more controversy of him signing autographs for $500 to $1,000 a pop. Pryor quit in early June, eight days after Tressel was fired.
Pryor applied for the NFL supplemental draft after that and was selected in the third round, 18th pick, by the Oakland Raiders. Of course, I was totally against Pryor even being allowed to be in the supplemental draft, a draft specifically for those players ruled ineligible for academic or disciplinary matters, so it seems. It is also for the those who miss the filing deadline for the real draft. Sounds like a crock to me. I wanted him to sit out the year to really think about it and see his commitment for the next year.
Anyway, the NFL actually delayed the supplemental draft to see if Pryor would be eligible for the draft. He was, but under the stipulation that he would have to serve a five-game suspension for his actions in college; the suspension included games and practices, but he was able to sit in on meetings. Score one for the NFL. Though they let him in the draft in the first place, at least they suspended the low-character Pryor.
Pryor again got to show his true colors when he appealed the suspension when he originally said he wouldnâ€™t. Apparently, the NFL Players Association had concerns about commissioner Roger Goodell suspending a player who was not in the league yet. Ultimately, Pryor changed his mind. Goodell finally made his decision on the appeal after three games into the season and denied it. Pryor sat out the remaining two games of the suspension.
His suspension officially ended on Oct. 10 and despite Raidersâ€™ starting quarterback Jason Campbellâ€™s shoulder injury sidelining him for at least the next six weeks, Pryor may not hit the field any time soon. The Raiders traded a 2012 first-round pick and a possible 2013 second-round pick for former Cincinatti Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer. Out of the University of Southern California, Palmer has passed for over 22,000 yards and over 150 TDs in his seven-year NFL career.
On an update of the other suspended Ohio State players, Herron and Adams have served their suspensions and Herron had 114 yards on 23 carries and a TD in his first game back in a 17-7 win over Illinois. Thomasâ€™ suspension is also over, but he is still recovering from a broken leg he suffered in the off-season. Posey served his suspension, but the NCAA has given him another five-gamer because he was overpaid for part-time work he did at an excavating company.