A Blue Christmas for the Scarlet and Grey

By Kenny Roda

Here’s the breakdown of what happened with the five Buckeyes who were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 today by the NCAA.  Those five Buckeyes are Terrelle Pryor, Mike Adams, Dan Herron, Devier Posey and Soloman Thomas. This breakdown is courtesy of Dave Biddle of Bucknuts.com, who did a bang up job of including all the nuts and bolts of this story.

The penalties came down 12 days before the Sugar Bowl game with Arkansas. Gene Smith and Jim Tressel said they lobbied for the players to play in the bowl game to protect the other players as well as their families and Sugar Bowl organizers.

“We felt very fortunate that there was a policy that the NCAA had to allow these young men to play in the bowl game for our seniors, who have been great leaders for the program, and for our fans, for the parents for the players and also for the Allstate Sugar Bowl people,” Smith said.

“We were very fortunate to work collaboratively with the NCAA to get to where we are today.”

* U.S. Attorneys contacted OSU on Dec. 7 when they seized some items from a person’s home and business. And those items were Ohio State football items. They wanted to know if those items were stolen and that’s when OSU was contacted.

* Gene Smith on the timeline of events: “We learned that the items might have been sold to the individual. We interviewed our athletes on Dec. 16 and they were honest with us. Contacted the Big Ten on Dec. 17 and told them we were preparing a report. On Sunday night, Dec. 19, we sent in the report and declared the student-athletes ineligible. Then the NCAA conducted phone interviews on Dec. 21 with the players. NCAA also requested more info from OSU. We were contacted yesterday, Dec. 22, where the NCAA rendered their decision.”

* Smith indicated that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany assisted the university in the process with the NCAA and getting the players reinstated for the bowl game.

“He gave us some good advice,” Smith said. “Delany did work at the NCAA years ago. He gave us some good advice as we prepared our self-report and he made a phone call on our behalf to the reinstatement team. We appreciate what he did.”

* Smith said the players sold the items to “help their families” during tough times.

* Tressel said the coaches need to make things “even more crystal clear” in terms of compliance issues. Says the “buck stops” with the coaching staff. “Don’t feel good that we fell short.”

* Smith on the chance to have the penalties reduced: “I can’t speculate on the appeal. But I think we can build a case and we’ll begin doing that next week. But I can’t speculate what the outcome will be, but obviously I hope there will be reductions.

“While we believe sanctions should be rendered, we do believe they are severe. We do believe we can give mitigating circumstances for the NCAA to consider.”

* Tressel on players selling stuff like Gold Pants: “It’s disappointing because you know everything that goes into earning something like that. There might have been extenuating circumstances, but like everything in life, we have to seek the right solutions. You can’t be shortsighted and say ‘I’m going to help out at home with this one because I’m going to win four more.’ ”

* Tressel on his reaction when he first learned about it: “There’s a gut-wrenching feeling when you lose a game. But then there’s one that goes beyond when you don’t think you did what you needed to do as people. So, whatever the next step of gut wrenching is, we feel that. It’s painful.”

* Smith on the man who is being investigated by the FBI: “I can’t get into that.”

Was it tattoos? “Yeah, I can talk about that. That was really it. I’ve learned more about tattoos than I would ever possibly know. They got a perceived discount on tattoos — that’s what the NCAA felt. As an athlete, you can’t use your persona to get discounts.”

* Smith: “We were not explicit with our young people that they could not re-sell items given to them. I’m not going to get into naming names, but we were not explicit that they were not allowed to do that. And it’s our job to be explicit, especially with freshmen.”

* Tressel was asked why Troy Smith suspended for the bowl game in 2004 and then the first game of the 2005 season.

Tressel: “I don’t remember us talking about the options of that. As I look at this rule (quotes the NCAA rulebook) I don’t remember that coming up in ‘04 (when Andy Geiger was the AD). I guess it’s different because it wasn’t part of the list of ‘Where do we go?’”

* Smith on whether OSU suggested any self-imposed sanctions to the NCAA: “No, we did not.”

Smith: “Receiving cash is the biggest violation. Yeah, the cash (is more-alarming than receiving free tattoos).”

* Tressel: “Biggest concern I have is the people our players associate themselves with.”

* Smith: “Which is why we might hire a tattoo artist for the team.”

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