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The ABJ's Take on Claretts Charges

sandgk

Watson, Crick & A Twist
Oct 29, 2004
16,977
1,925
SW Ohio
As Clarett-Gate - The Ragazine That Couldn't Shoot Straight continues to unfurl thought it might be interesting to see another dissenting opinion.

This one from the Akron Beacon Journal (i.e., real close to MoC's old stomping grounds). Its free - but you have to register -- and well, you know what that can mean. So here it is in all its glory.


Clarett has plenty of charges, but where's the evidence?

By TERRY PLUTO

Akron Beacon Journal


AKRON, Ohio - Where's the proof?

That's the question hanging over the charges made by Maurice Clarett in an ESPN The Magazine story about cars, cushy jobs, money from boosters and other NCAA infractions.

There is not a single piece of paper pointing to any of it.

Did Clarett receive money and favors from boosters?

What do you think happens at places like Ohio State and other schools where football is big business and fans treat players like kings?

Would OSU coach Jim Tressel and/or his staff be stupid enough to authorize any of it?

Hard to believe, at least until someone produces some real evidence.

Is Clarett a viable witness? Does he have a history of telling the truth, or one of changing his story?

Most fans know the answer to that.

One player backing Clarett is former Buckeye Marco Cooper, who told ESPN he received the same favors. But Cooper was suspended from the team after two drug arrests. Other players said they had landscaping summer jobs like Clarett, but they worked for their money.

Clarett is living in victimhood. Unhappy because his plans to challenge the NFL's rules about turning pro failed. Unhappy about having to sit out TWO years before entering the 2005 NFL Draft. Unhappy because his value in the eyes of scouts keeps dropping.

He blames OSU for his plight, claiming the Buckeyes ran him off.

But if you are the OSU coach or athletic director and Clarett just led your team to the national title, what sense does it make to push the guy out the door - unless you had no choice?

Clarett said that to remain on the team, Tressel said he had to work out at 6 a.m. and maintain a 3.5 grade-point average. Clarett said he wasn't a morning person. He said the tutors would no longer help. He said a teacher banned him from class.

If Clarett had simply shown up for his classes and made a decent effort at school, there would have been no academic problems. But school was not much of a priority. Early in his freshman year, Clarett first said he was considering going pro after his first season. That also was in an ESPN The Magazine story.

There is no reason to doubt ESPN's reporting in that initial story or this one. Clarett said these things; they have it on tape. But is it true, or just an angry young man lashing out?

The NCAA just finished an investigation of OSU and Clarett. According to OSU athletic director Andy Geiger, the school was not guilty of any violations, adding the NCAA examined the summer jobs and cars.

The one iffy area was Tressel pointing Clarett and his mother to a dealership to buy a car. Geiger said this was OK with the NCAA, because there were no special favors, adding Clarett had at least one car repossessed.

Maybe everything is legal, but it doesn't seem wise for a coach or anyone from an athletic department to recommend a player to a car dealership.

The ESPN story also discussed how OSU athletes take meaningless courses that don't count when the player transfers to another school. This a real problem not just at OSU, but at too many other major schools as well. Too often, players are pushed into classes just to stay eligible.

In the final years of coach John Cooper, the OSU program was an embarrassment with the Big Ten's lowest graduation rate. Geiger said 23 players were on the verge of being ineligible when Cooper was fired and replaced by Tressel.

The athletic director said the graduation rate has risen from 16 percent to 50 percent under Tressel. The football team also has been near the top in Big Ten academic honors the last two years.

But there remains a sense that the academic situation still needs work. Even more attention needs to be given to make sure players take real courses and make legitimate progress toward graduating with a meaningful degree.

As for Clarett's charges of corruption, OSU has to be considered innocent until someone truly proves otherwise.
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