TAMPA, Fla. - Yesterday, the day after an announcement was made that the media is not allowed to talk to injured Ohio State football players, two of those injured players might not be talking to each other.
Or, co-captain Ken-Yon Rambo and Matt Wilhelm might be doing more than just softly discussing their differences after Wilhelm said yesterday he was disappointed with Rambo's leadership and the way Rambo conducted himself as a captain.
“It's good and bad,” said Wilhelm, of Lorain, Ohio, who sought out a hometown newspaper re-porter to vent his feelings. “His excitement for the game, his love for the game, his heart is always in the right place. Sometimes it comes across a little too raw for some people
“At times he's not the greatest leader. He doesn't lead by example. He's late for team walks, he's out of the dress code, not looking the way you're supposed to look, and to me it's disappointing.”
Wilhelm, a sophomore inside linebacker, is the team's third leading tackler. Rambo is the Buckeyes' leading pass catcher with 51 grabs for 729 yards and two touchdowns.
Both are sidelined with injuries. Wilhelm has a knee problem while Rambo is suffering from a broken bone in his left hand. Both players said they expect to start against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl in Raymond James Stadium on New Year's Day.
Rambo went into great detail on Tuesday explaining how he injured his hand during a practice session, rolling on top of it as it curled under his body when he hit the turf.
Other reports said he injured it while frolicking with freshman running back Sam Maldonado in the dressing room.
Yesterday, Rambo told a small group of reporters his original story concerning the injury was not accurate when questioned further about it. “I don't have to tell you the truth because you all put everything in the paper,” he explained.
Ohio State captains are chosen by a vote of their teammates. The Buckeyes' other co-captains are quarterback Steve Bellisari and linebacker Joe Cooper.
Rambo actively campaigned for the captaincy, something OSU coach John Cooper said he had never encountered before.
Wilhelm also stated that he was upset because he felt Rambo didn't show the respect toward his honor of captain that the recognition deserved.
“The way people talk about the university and talk about, `Back in the past, you can say you were a captain at Ohio State,' and then to have him not lead the way it's supposed to be led, it's kind of tough,” Wilhelm said. “Especially for me because a lot of guys say next year I might have a shot at being a captain.
“So am I supposed to respect that after the team elects him? Maybe not elect him because he's the leader but more because, he's our star this year so let's elect him captain. Everyone likes him so let's elect him captain. That's not what it's about.”
Wilhelm said he wants to remain good friends with Rambo and will confront him after the season.
“He's gone. He won't be in school any more,” Wilhelm said. “He'll just be around and I won't have to deal with him, but it's something I would like to confront him about and see if he realizes what he was doing wasn't the way it was supposed to be done.”
Wilhelm said he was particularly disturbed when Rambo danced on the “W” in the middle of Wisconsin's field after OSU defeated the Badgers 23-7 on Oct. 7. Rambo said after the game he did it because the Badgers did the same thing in Ohio Stadium the previous year after a 42-17 triumph.
“I was halfway up the tunnel getting flicked off by Wisconsin people and I turn around and see it,” Wilhelm said. “I was pulled back by it. Wisconsin came on our field and beat our butts and walked off and did their thing in their locker room and on the way home. It's not like we had a personal vengeance like against Michigan or something. It's Wisconsin, it's a big game, of course, for both teams, but I didn't think that was needed at all.”
Rambo, after being told of Wilhelm's accusations, said, “I got to go talk to this man. He's going to tell you (expletive) like that but he don't tell me nothing. What kind of man is that?”