I’m stuck between two Metallica songs in my search for a title for this post.
I guess I’m supposed to have a reaction to Ohio State’s response to the NCAA, but I’m kind of burned out on the topic.
I mean, don’t get me wrong: This is news. There are plenty of interesting tidbits in the documents the school released Friday (find them here), but for anyone who has been following along from the beginning, there wasn’t all that much real, substantive news.
So what is the lesson, if there is one?
I think it’s that sometimes what they don’t say matters as much as what they do.
In this case, I’m referring to the fact that the NCAA still has not alleged Ohio State failed to monitor the situation properly or that it exhibited lack of institutional control. I am under the impression the organization could still do that if it sees fit, but there is no concrete reason to expect that at this point.
Many people got all bent out of shape over what they perceive as a light punishment self-imposed by the Buckeye brass, but most of them have already shown themselves to be a little too itchy on that trigger finger.
They’re also missing an important distinction between what has been reported and what the NCAA actually has shown any real concern about, at least enough to express it in writing. As long as that continues to be the case, I suppose we will still have to deal with the howls and those people will have to learn to get over their disappointment.
Ohio State looked a lot better on paper yesterday than it has looked in the press for quite some time, and that is an incredibly meaningful thing.
However, the time for exhaling has not arrived in Ohio quite yet.
The conclusion of Ohio State’s response could be taken as ominous even though it might turn out to be innocuous.
It reads, “Information was reported to the University and the enforcement staff subsequent to the Notice of Allegations that still is being reviewed. This review continues and the University will report any additional violations if necessary in the future.”
This means Ohio State is not quite out of the woods. While obviously vague (and possibly procedural), the reference to further reviews likely has to do with reports former quarterback Terrelle Pryor had multiple dealings with a Columbus photographer who allegedly paid him for autographs he could later sell.
But much like when Maurice Clarett faced charges of accepting extra benefits (not to mention misleading NCAA investigators), this figures to be tough for the NCAA to prove because Pryor left town with indications he won’t be back, at least not to see them, and the photographer is likely in no hurry to talk to them, either.
There has been one unsubstantiated report that a paper trail exists between Pryor and the photographer, but it stands to reason the persons who made that report would have produced proof by now. And if the NCAA actually had such evidence last month, Ohio State likely would have included a response to that charge with the rest on Friday.
What is certain is that nothing is assured until the case is finally heard, and someone is going to be disappointed in the outcome. Whether it is Ohio State and its fans or the sanction hawks throughout the national media and fan bases, only time will tell.