For months I've heard from people in the sorta know that Ohio State won't be facing any death penalty-like sentences, lose bowl games, etc. etc. That the worst of it was going to be self-imposed, for a variety of reasons.
Yet at the same time it was hard for me to actually believe this because on a near weekly basis all I ever read was "Ohio State is going to going to be punished...killed...banned...penalized severely..." Every adjective to describe death was levied upon the program. Pundits who hate the school waxed about it in every college football column, with a how-could-it-be-otherwise point of view. ESPN, the most influential cable network on the planet created their own cottage industry around the issue. It was impossible to really believe they wouldn't be "killed" because the PERCEPTION was horrendous.
Just so happens the PERCEPTION was created from nothingness. And now that the NCAA has in fact ruled correctly all of the haters have just yawned, or maybe wrote "the NCAA is corrupt as well."
It's all nonsense.
ESPN ran these stories EVERY SINGLE DAY on their front page, and since the story broke yesterday it's ALREADY OFF their front page. Stories of Jim Tressel, cars, Terrelle Pryor, the 5 suspended players, the Sugar Bowl, those stories went on for DAYS. But the near exoneration, that barely warrants 24 hours of coverage. In fact, not only was the story not big enough to run on a weekend where NOTHING is going on, but ESPN created from whole cloth their own version of the story.
College football writer Joe Schad, who was recently caught up in the Mike Leach story, was reported on ESPN last night to have said, "a lawyer close to the case claims that Ohio State apparently has an 'ally' on the NCAA committee." This is the story they ran with.
Really? An unnamed lawyer, and an ally? Well that sounds just about as corrupt as you could imagine, and for all we know, he did imagine it!
Who is this lawyer? Who is this ally? What exactly is an ally? Is an ally someone who agrees with the case presented, and rules in your favor, or is that person someone who lobbies in your favor to make sure you don't suffer consequences? I guess it could be both, but if it were the latter then ESPN would have reported THAT. They didn't. They just said "ally." Guess who recently had 12 allies? Casey Anthony. It was called the jury.
ESPN created the drama of this story. I'm not suggesting the story was a good one, or that players didn't do bad things, or that the coach didn't do something worse by covering it up, but the "they have to fall" attitude prevalent throughout the media and sports world was created by them. On the inside they had former Buckeye player Chris Spielman as their cover. I don't hate Spielman for it. He loves his school. He was miserable about what transpired, but they used him to say, "Look, one of your own is doing it." Yeah, he had an opinion, and he turned out wrong, but regardless of what happened he was used as cover, whether he knew it or not. And again, I don't blame him for being upset. And while all of this happened, losing a legendary coach, a Heisman Trophy candidate, and 4 other players suspended 5 games WAS NOT ENOUGH!
What people don't understand is it WASN'T INSTITUTIONAL. Even if EVERY KID ON THE TEAM SOLD HIS GEAR FOR CASH, that's STILL NOT INSTITUTIONAL. It was players acting on their own.
If just ONE COACH on the staff gave a player $500 on a recruiting trip that in fact would be worse. That would be paying a kid to come to your school, and the kid expecting there would be more where that came from. Ohio State didn't do that, AS AN INSTITUTION. The man who made the mistake, he has paid a fatal price on his career.
THIS WASN'T ENOUGH?!?
And Michigan fans, seriously? Just the scandal alone has given you hope! You ended up with players who were going to Ohio State, and we lost even more to other Big Ten schools. Did you want MORE HELP?
Please. It's embarrassing. Yesterday felt like you lost another game, yet you weren't even on the field, nor were you a participant! So seriously, PLEASE.
Your program sucks not because Ohio State's doesn't. It's all on you. You're the type of people who clap for unforced errors, apparently. Not for winners. Focus on yourself.
And all these things like cars, and kids selling stuff, and blah blah blah, trust me, YOU DO IT TOO! THEY ALL DO!
So this entire clusterfuck has been ugly from the start, and rightfully so, but the media has made so much more of it than ever should have been made. For weeks I have had multiple people who work at ESPN and went to Michigan sending me emails, telling me what was going to happen. They drank the Kool Aid. They WANTED IT to happen. And did everything in their power to MAKE IT happen.
But it didn't.
And the funniest part of it all, ESPN/ABC actually broadcasts Big Ten games. CBS doesn't. But at least CBS Sportsline and CNNSI have the decency to leave the good story up on their front pages without unprovable speculation about why it happened.