Hey. No one said winning the Illinois State Championship was going to be easy.
A wake-up call, via Sunny 95 on the way into Columbus this afternoon: We’d just finished listening to Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London,” and were unaware of what station we were listening to. And then the DJ says:
“You’re listening to the home of your refreshing light-rock favorites.”
Christ. When did Warren Zevon’s music beome a “refreshing light-rock favorite?” And do I just automatically get my AARP card in the mail?
Let’s take a college-football detour here for a second. While my Buckeyes roll along towards the inevitable clash with M ….. innesota (The Way Of The Sweater Vest: One Game At A Time), I happened to check on the doings in Athens, home of my alma mater. I found that the Ohio University Bobcats are 5-3 and 3-1 in conference, good enough for second place in the MAC’s eastern division.
That includes a win over a Big Ten school, on the road, even (granted, it’s Illinois, but still…), and last Saturday’s pounding of Buffalo, 42-7, in Athens. It also means that Saturday’s game against Kent’s Golden Flashers, 4-0 in conference and leading the MAC east, is a kind of mildly huge game.
I have some misgivings about football at OU, starting with the drunken rampage by head coach Frank Solich after completion of the 2005 season. Frank’s a former head coach at Nebraska, and came into Athens touting discipline, hard work, etc., etc. Shortly after the 2005 season, he then went on a bender at the Casa Cantina, drove away after refusing offers of several rides and passed out in his car on Union Street a few minutes later.
He was contrite at the time, entering a nolo contendre plea to the DUI charge, but he’s since tried, through his lawyer, to get that changed, claiming he was drugged. Now, I speak with some authority when I say there are drugs to be had in Athens, but claiming that GHB — and not tequila — was behind the incident?
Uh, not good, Frank.
This season, a bunch of players — somewhere north of a dozen — have been arrested since Jan. 1 on charges ranging from open container violations to assaults. In nearly all the cases, the players essentially got detention as punishment.
Uh, also not good, Frank.
It’s impossible to hold a head coach accountable for the transgressions of every single one of his players, especially at a D-1 program that has dozens of athletes on scholarship. But it helps if the coach is perceived to be doing things the right way, and telling a football player charged with assault that his only football-related punishment is a few extra hours of study table in the coaching office probably isn’t the right way of doing things.
OU’s board of trustees has since directed the president to ensure that the school’s athletics director hands out punishment for any athletes who get into trouble. And three football players have since been suspended indefinitely. That’s a better way, and hopefully, that will stick with the program, even as things improve on the field.
I’m not an especially good fan of OU football. The Wife and I have been to three games since we finished school in the mid-1990s, although one was in Columbus, wearing green and white, and watching the Bobcats actually give Ohio State a rough time for nearly the entire first half. We may even go to another game this season, when OU plays at Akron on Nov. 16, two days before another, uh, rather important game we’ll be attending in Columbus.
But the big showdown against the Flashers on Saturday? At 2 p.m., when that game begins, we’ll be in the Ohio State College of Pharmacy parking lot, getting ready for the Golden Gophers. I’ll still have my Bobcats on my mind, though; maybe I’ll wear some green socks on Saturday.
Instead of starting his aggravated robbery trial this morning, Maurice Clarett is probably spending some time with a court-appointed psychologist, who will help determine whether The Troubled Former Ohio State Running Back is competent to stand trial. I’m betting he’s not.
When he’s not talking to a shrink, he’s going to be in jail. Not only did the judge set his bond on the most recent charges at $5 million, Clarett’s bond on the robbery charge was upped to more than $1 million. And there may be more charges on the way, boys and girls … Looks like he’s going to miss the season opener of the Mahoning Valley Hit Men.
Last week I tried to explain what I feel about Clarett, and I did a lousy job. Part of that stems from the fact that he was such a huge part of the 2002 national championship. Our friend Kristi, however, isn’t nearly as ambivalent. In case you missed her comment on the last post:
Many former players are embraced by the OSU/Columbus communities, many taking jobs and appearing at charity events for years after they hang up the scarlet jersey. These players weren’t necessarily the best players, but they made correct choices. They kept their noses in the books and their asses out of jail.
I think Maurice owes Ohio State something. He had it all here. He decided to do unsavory things and drag my alma mater through the mud. He was given many opportunities and decided to piss each of them away. It hurts everytime he graces news headlines. It is never good news, and inevitably, Ohio State’s good name is always mentioned numerous times.
I hope this year’s team can win it all. Think how nice an unblemished title will feel.
Kristi: I’m with you for the first paragraph and most of the second. I have a couple quibbles:
I don’t view the 2002 title as tainted in any way. Yes, I feel a little strange watching the highlight DVDs from that season or from the Fiesta Bowl (something I do with alarming frequency this time of year), because he’s featured so heavily. But the hassles with Maurice didn’t really start until that trophy was already ensconced in the Woody Hayes Center was over. If there had been anything to somehow taint that season in an official sense, I’m sure the NCAA would have had something to say about it.
(A side note about the Fiesta Bowl DVD. Everyone knows about the dust-up between Clarett and Andy Geiger just before the game: Maurice wanted to go home to attend the funeral of a friend/OSU said he didn’t fill out the proper paperwork to qualify for a flight/Maurice says the university is out to get him and pouting ensued. OK. After the TD in the second overtime, Clarett celebrates in the endzone with his teammate … and then it’s like he remembered that he’s supposed to be pissed about something. There’s a shot of him sitting on the bench, and he has his head down, barely acknowledging his teammates who walk up to congratulate him. And he disappears during the post-game; Lynn Swann is practically begging to interview him, and one of the seniors finally drags him on the stage. When he gets there, he’s totally sullen, not at all happy, it seems, that his football team just won a national championship. Very strange.)
And in the last week, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about who owes who in this “relationship,” and my conclusion is that it’s pretty much a wash. I do feel like Ohio State fans got something from him for that 2002 season; it’s pretty clear to me that if the starting tailback that year had been Lydell Ross or Maurice Hall, we wouldn’t have made it to the Fiesta Bowl.
But Clarett got something back as well: The chance that a scholarship football player at any major program gets. Kristi points out the fact that there are plenty of players who “kept their noses in the books and their asses out of jail.” I’ll go one further. There are probably thousands of football players on football scholarships in this country who come from backgrounds as horrifying as Clarett’s, and most of them understand, and take advantage of, the opportunity they have. Making the most of that opportunity might mean going to the NFL, and it might mean just getting a degree and moving into a life they might not have been able to reach if they had stayed in Youngstown. He had that opportunity in Columbus, and he chose not to accept it.
OK. I’d like to hear comments on this post, especially from Kristi. And I would like to say, as a final note, that I do wish Maurice Clarett well. But those points aside, I think Uncle Crappy is done with Maurice Clarett. I’d much rather talk about this year’s football team, which I think has the potential to kick some serious ass.
In the unlikely case you haven’t heard, former Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett was arrested after a police chase early today. Columbus cops tried to pull over his SUV after it made an illegal u-turn on the east side, and after a five-minute chase along I-70, they got him stopped in a restaurant parking lot.
The officers had to use mace to get Clarett under control; the Tazer they tried using didn’t work because Maurice was wearing a bullet-proof vest. They then found that Clarett was carrying four loaded guns — a rifle and three handguns — in the truck, along with some Grey Goose vodka.
It gets worse. This happened just days before Clarett’s trial on armed robbery charges was to begin.
I don’t know what Columbus thinks about this — I’ve been a little afraid to look at the message board The Dispatch set up on its web page — but to me, it’s mostly sad. There’s no question he has — had? — the talent to play in the NFL, and that might have been the one thing that could have kept him out of this kind of trouble.
The fact that he’s not playing on Sunday is largely his responsibility — as I pointed out a couple of days ago, he didn’t seem to put forth any effort when his chance with the league finally came up. And he’s accused of making a lot of poor choices since then, things like holding up people outside of bars or driving around Columbus with an small arsenal and an open bottle of vodka in his truck.
I know I’m in an overwhelming minority here, but I’ll always believe Ohio State fans owe Maurice something, because we wouldn’t have won that national title without him. So I have to think there’s something the community could have done to help him out at some point. I’m just not sure what that is.
LeCharles Bentley hurt his knee? He’s out for the season? The guy who was going to anchor our offensive line is OUT FOR THE SEASON? AFTER ONE FREAKING PRACTICE?
That’s just about perfect. See you in 2007.