Former Ohio State Star Maurice Clarett Defends Jim Tressel And Terrelle Pryor…But Not OSU’s AD
If anybody understands the trials and tribulations that can come along with being a college-aged superstar in football-crazed Columbus, Ohio, it's Maurice Clarett.
Back in 2002, Clarett was the toast of the town in Ohio's capital city, a freshman running back who was carrying the Ohio State football team to its first national championship since 1968. Clarett would score the game-winning touchdown in that season's Fiesta Bowl, but that was his last-ever play as a Buckeye, as off-the-field troubles led to him being ruled ineligible, and ultimately landed him in jail.
Almost a decade later, Clarett's coach at OSU, Jim Tressel, has been forced to resign, and one of the only players to rival his popularity in Columbus, Terrelle Pryor, has also been ruled ineligible and forced to leave college football prematurely.
Yesterday, Clarett provided his perspective on the situation via a column on the OSU fan site, OurBuckeyeHub.com.
Now let's be honest. How many of us who are reading this article understand what it’s like to have an abundance of power on a daily basis? How many of us understand what it feels like for no one to ever say no us? How many know what it feels like to be living a dream so many wish they could live? How many people know what it feels like to be responsible for such a rich tradition, yet have no idea of how to navigate it all? How many people know what it feels like for 100,000 people to scream their name every week? The moment can become intoxicating and overwhelming at times.
Clarett's explanation of the star treatment players get in Columbus is a clear defense of Pryor's acceptance of improper benefits, and he goes on to defend the coach that he played for during his lone season in college football.
Now picture a young coach coming up. His success at Youngstown State was unbelievable and the way he connected with young black men was prolific. He won big and was widely recognized as a STAND-UP GUY for the way he carried himself on and off the field. He built a reputation on all the characteristics that mattered most and he was rewarded for that.
I'll also venture to say that the relationships and bonds were a lot stronger based on the dynamics of the program. People weren't disloyal for the sake of the paycheck and friendship meant something. I guess with more money comes more politics and when politics are mixed in any business each (selfish) man shall look out for his own pocket (Gene).
That "Gene" that Clarett refers to is OSU athletic director Gene Smith, who asked Tressel to resign back on Memorial Day. Smith has yet to be found of any wrongdoing throughout the scandal, which involved Tressel finding out about the improper benefits that Pryor and OSU receiver DeVier Posey received, without the coach coming forward to to report the infractions to his superiors, including Smith.
Many people believe that Smith knew something about violations before OSU self-reported them, but until tangible proof shows that, it doesn't seem fair to blame Smith for throwing Tressel under the bus when Tressel may have put himself there in the first place.
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