The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

THE Ohio State Scandal

Well today was going to be the first installment of my offseason viewers guides for White Sox and Marlins fans. However, I didn’t quite get the preparation put in that I wanted to, and yesterday a big story broke that I’m sure a lot of us will be following over the next week or two: ESPN has reported that Maurice Clarett, and other Ohio State University football players, received numerous other benefits while members of the football team, including cash payments, free cars, free furniture, and custom-tailored academic programs.

Ohio State, using the classic rogue employee theory taught to Sports Administration students throughout the country (where blame is placed at the hands of one or two key individuals – in this case Clarett in an attempt to make it look as if the institution has handled the problem, if one even ever existed), has denied any wrongdoing took place. However, where there’s smoke there’s usually fire – and here there’s a lot of smoke. Sure, Clarett is not the most credible guy and some of the other players that ESPN dug up may not be either. But these fellows aren’t exactly Rhodes scholars either. Maybe someone’s feeding them the accusations to make, but if that’s the case, that will be exposed too. More likely than anything is that these players are for whatever reason (mainly that they feel jilted by the university now) telling the world how things went down when they were at Ohio State and the rest of us are finding out that things aren’t as innocent and pristine in college football as we might like to think.

Now this isn’t to say that I think Ohio State is the only program in the country where improper benefits are being given to college athletes. Ohio State surely isn’t. These benefits aren’t only extended to football players – student-athletes in other sports at other schools across the nation surely receive extras now and then too. That doesn’t make it right. It also doesn’t make what has happened – or is happening (since they haven’t admitted to any problems, who’s to say that it all still isn’t going on? Well, maybe boosters don’t give these sorts of benefits to three loss teams) – at Ohio State any more excusable. In fact, it’s probably less excusable at Ohio State than at a lot of other schools because of the holier-than-thou attitude promoted by the Athletic Department, particularly by Head Coach Jim Tressel.

Here are some links to help you keep up with the story. Since it’s still developing, I also threw in some Google News links to help you find new things as they happen:

My Side – ESPN’s lead story on the situation

Maurice Clarett sold out (by OSU)

Andy Geiger lies

Ohio State improper benefits

Jim Tressel bad guy

Jim Tressel liar

Ohio State football player arrested

Oh, and in other news, Roger Clemens stole his seventh Cy Young Award yesterday. I suppose we can’t blame Clemens because he played no role in the voting (other than his performance on the field). The real shock in the balloting – in my opinion – was that Ben Sheets finished as low as he did – in 9th place. BBWAA voters obviously weren’t as tuned into the on field performance this year as IBWA voters. Clemens had an outstanding year, and deserves great praise – but Randy Johnson deserved this year’s Cy Young. His win totals may not have reflected it, but if you’d swapped teams for Johnson and Schilling, we’d likely be talking about the all-time great year that Johnson had, and how it was time for Clemens to hang up his spikes.

Nevertheless, Ben Sheets was far better than the ninth best pitcher in the National League this year.


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