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Published: Friday, 12/24/2010

Plenty to blame in Ohio State tattoo fiasco

To review, boys and girls (and, by the way, Merry Christmas, and we hope you got everything you asked of Santa, including those 2011 Ohio State football season tickets), we have this:

Reggie Bush's family misbehaves badly, the NCAA says sins of the father attach to the student-athlete-son, and the former Southern Cal star is excommunicated. Fine.

But Cam Newton's father tries to peddle his son's flesh, pure and simple, $180,000 sounds like a fair bid, the NCAA says sins of the father do NOT attach to the son, and the Auburn star is declared eligible for games, gets the Heisman, and heads to the BCS title game with apparent impunity.

Now, a handful or so of Ohio State players sell their memorabilia for anything from a couple bucks to a couple tattoos to a couple grand, and the NCAA figures that's worth five games on the pine, but not the next game, because, well, who the hell knows.

This is not to excuse Terrelle Pryor and friends, not by any stretch. But if the NCAA has one shred of credibility left someone had best show me in what bottom drawer of what desk it has been stuffed.

OK, check the NCAA off my Christmas card list.

Now, it's on to the Buckeyes.

What was that you called Kirk Herbstreit, Terrelle? Remember that Twitter comment you dashed off a few weeks back? College football's top analyst, a former OSU quarterback, served up a little objective criticism of the current OSU quarterback and you responded by calling Herbie "a fake Buckeye."

I'm just guessing here now, T.P., but I'd bet K.H. didn't sell his Ohio State most valuable player award from 1992. I doubt he ever signed a pair of jersey pants and in exchange got M-O-M inked across his lower back. Who's a fake Buckeye now?

That's the saddest part of this whole thing — that the Big Ten championship rings and those little gold pants the Buckeyes receive for beating Michigan didn't mean more than a little spending money to starters like Pryor, Boom Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adam,s and a couple others.

OK, check the players off my Christmas card list.

Now, it's on to Jim Tressel and athletic director Gene Smith.

When you guys are done throwing your compliance staff under the bus you might want to throw these players under the Sugar Bowl bus too.

I appreciate Tressel taking the blame; I don't know that I believe for a minute the players could have been that stupid.

Compliance with NCAA rules is drilled into them from the moment they arrive on campus. Most of them get it; some apparently don't.

In one breath, Tressel said he and his staff didn't do a good job of detailing NCAA rules regarding memorabilia sales.

In another, Smith said the issue is "isolated to these young men and isolated to this particular instance." Hey, pick one.

Regardless, and regardless of the always-simmering debate over whether players deserve a cut of the enormous pie baked by big-time college football, which is another subject for another day, one thing is clear.

These players embarrassed Ohio State by their actions.

The NCAA, for whatever it's worth, seems to think it's pretty serious. Five games of serious.

If Tressel and Smith want to do the right thing and send the message that The Ohio State takes its reputation seriously, that it is above those schools that give mere lip service to playing by the rules, the punishment should not be one of convenience.

There should be a sixth game — the Sugar Bowl.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398



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