Granted, with many of us having first-hand experiencing in dealing with sanctions thanks to Paul Dee and his Indianapolis colleagues dating back to last June, it's going to sound repetitive to bring up issue after issue regarding the NCAA. But college athletics' governing body sucks, so we're going to do it every time there's something of note. Today, in fact, there is.
At this point in time, I assume most of you are familiar with the Ohio State ruling, the Tattoo Five, a group of five OSU players suspended after admitting to selling jerseys, rings or gold pants in addition to receiving free ink from a Columbus tattoo artist. The players, however, will remain eligible for the Sugar Bowl, having their suspensions "postponed" until next September. Like most of you, I'm baffled, and interestingly enough, so is AOL Fanhouse's Clay Travis.
I bring this up for several reasons. One, Travis has never been much of a USC apologist. In fact, he's an SEC homer, and unapologetically a Tennessee fan, who has never shied away from making Lane Kiffin the butt of most of his jokes. Two, he's admittedly been soft on the NCAA in the past, which makes the title of his latest column all the more interesting: "NCAA Bungles Ohio State Ruling Along With Entirety of 2010's Rulings."
I do adamantly hate the term, but if " the haters" are suddenly finding fault with the NCAA, something must in fact be afoul. It's not just crazy USC fans blowing off steam, which was the perception last summer. Oh, how things change. Per Travis:
This has been the year when the NCAA has stopped being a traffic cop and turned into an arbitrary and capricious dictator. Think an insane Saddam Hussein at the height of his powers in Iraq. The NCAA is a totalitarian dictator, the rules are what the NCAA says the rules are. Even if, you know, honest logic dies in the process.
Put simply, the decision to allow Ohio State's five "suspended" players to remain eligible for the Sugar Bowl is indefensible. Completely and utterly indefensible. I'll write more about this shortly, but how can you have a suspension that doesn't take effect immediately? How can you be eligible at the same time that you're ineligible? How can a window of eligibility exist if you are presently ineligible? What's more, and there will be more on this shortly, how come Ohio State's 2009 and 2010 seasons aren't invalidated for ineligible players competing?
The NCAA's Ohio State ruling is, I believe, the tipping point. We've reached a position in college athletics where there is no logic and no intelligent person can discern any element of legitimacy behind the NCAA's decrees.
It's arbitrary land, nothing can be classified under "sound logic" anymore and that's no hyperbole. A.J. Green sold his jersey and was suspended immediately. But in the eyes of the infractions committee, Green's actions apparently warranted a more severe punishment in comparison to the five Buckeye players, including Terrelle Pryor.
But what is really odd, as Travis points out, is that Ohio State, despite having multiple ineligible players on its roster was not forced to vacate any wins. None.
So why did Alabama vacate 21 wins in 2005, 06 and 07 and Ohio State vacates none?
How can you reconcile this?
It's not just Alabama, by the way. An awful lot of schools, including, oh by the way, USC, have been forced to vacate wins for playing ineligible athletes. Why isn't Ohio State being forced to do the same?
And most glaring remains the decision to suspend ineligible players after the bowl game. How can you be ineligible yet eligible at the same time? Travis wonders as much.
If Terrelle Pryor is eligible to play in the 2010 Sugar Bowl, why wasn't Reggie Bush eligible to play in the national title game against Oklahoma? Why can't USC go back and say it suspended Bush for the entirety of the 2006 season? You know, the one when Bush was already playing in the NFL.
Just to reiterate: if Clay is defending a Lane Kiffin-led USC program against the NCAA, there is something afoul in Indianapolis. Of course, however, we've said this for the past year and everyone called us crazy.