Everyone knows a Buckeye. They’re hard to miss. Their scarlet and grey jerseys, their love for all things Columbus and their unwavering pride for their football program.
Well, these days, their pride is wavering.
Ohio State football is, to put it politely, a mess. With head coach Jim Tressel stepping down, multiple players suspended for trading school paraphernalia for tattoos, and their star quarterback skipping town in his brand new Nissan, it’s hard for any Buckeye fan to turn on Sportscenter without wincing.
As a result, I thought it might be interesting to pick the brain of one of the biggest Buckeye fans I know. You guys know him as Croshere.
Croshere and I have been friends for about fifteen years. Thanksgivings past, we’d commiserate over turkey and bourbon as Steve Spurrier would lose to the Seminoles and John Cooper would lose to the Wolverines.
For years, we wondered how our two, storied football programs never met in a game of any consequence. We all know how that turned out. Croshere and I even traveled to Atlanta to see the Buckeyes play the Gators in the 2007 National Championship game, with passersby looking at us aghast, wondering how a Gator and a Buckeye could be such close friends under the circumstances.
This interview is not to suggest that Croshere has his finger on the pulse of Buckeye Nation, but as an alumnus of the university, I’m guessing his disappointment over the current state of his program pretty well encapsulates the feelings of millions of Buckeye fans nationwide.
So without further ado, I give to you Croshere, bewildered Buckeye.
SportsChump: Before we begin, Croshere, please give our readers a bit of your background so they know you’re not just some fair-weather Buckeye fan.
Croshere: I must say my Buckeye/Tressel credentials are fairly impeccable. I say this as I set my cocktail down on my Ohio State coaster, set my Buckeye key chain down on the counter, and alas, put on my Buckeye slippers to have a smoke and prepare this response.
I am a 1994 graduate of Thee Ohio State University, having grown up in Youngstown. My sister stayed at home and went to YSU. Football seasons for me at that time were a combination of attending Jimmy T’s 1AA titles and lamenting disappointing John Cooper losses. When I found out the sweater vest was going to be taking over the ‘big program,’ it was unspeakable joy! Ten years later, we have reached this moment, and I am more than happy to share my thoughts.
SportsChump: By ‘impeccable credentials,’ I’m assuming you mean cleaner than the way your head coach, athletic director and quarterback have run your program into the ground.
You know I love you, man, and mean to cast no aspersions. This sort of thing could happen to any school where college football brings in countless millions of dollars. But since you’re in the midst of it, I wanted to get your thoughts while this was all fresh… and stinging.
Every morning I turn on ESPN, there’s footage of Terrelle Pryor driving around town in a car which we know he can’t afford. How much of this do you lay on Tressel? How much on the AD? How much on the players or boosters?
With all the pressure that’s put on schools to win and win now, how surprising is it that any of this has happened, quite unfortunately to your alma mater?
Croshere: I think everyone who made a bad choice to hurt Buckeye Nation has their own separate level of accountability. Most responsibility is with Jimmy T. When you take over a program, you become the face of it, good or bad. Having knowledge of violations and not reporting them is similar to driving home drunk. Most people do it, it goes undetected 99% of the time. When you do get pulled over, you can’t act like you don’t deserve the DUI.
The players, ah… the players. 18-22 year old demigod’s handed some trinkets (or Porsches) for the millions they bring to the university. I would love to get on my high horse and say that if they saw the big picture, they would want to have the memorabilia they sold for themselves when they were older. Then I harkened back to the days at Drackett Tower on north campus. The days of Ramen noodles and Keystone Light, and the constant struggle to keep enough of both. It would be hard to think I would have passed on $1000 for a ring of any sort. That is, after all, a ton of noodles and beer. The players are the easiest to understand, but still they know the risks when they decide to break the rules, and have to accept the consequences.
The AD goes under the Tressel rule as well. Knowing what is going on and doing nothing is playing with fire. Even knowing your coach knows about violations puts you in danger.
College sports have gotten to a difficult point. What started out decades ago as intercollegiate extra-curricular activity, has now become a billion dollar industry. Asking the players who put on the whole show to not get a cut somehow has become virtually impossible. There will always be players who refused to be sold on the morality of performing for free. These will also be the most talented players in a lot of cases, so coaches that don’t recruit them will miss out on this talent. These coaches will more than likely be less successful than those who do get the player on the take.
SUCKS WE GOT CAUGHT!!!!!!!!
SportsChump: Well, one question I had planned on asking you was “Do you think Pryor will return to Columbus?” Obviously a lot can happen in a week. Pryor left school, issued a half-assed apology, hired Drew Rosenhaus as his agent and has declared for the supplemental draft.
How do you think he’ll fare as a pro, do you even care and where does he rank on your Maurice Clarett scale?
Croshere: Let’s take a couple steps back.
Clarett committed armed robbery. TP’s not even on the Clarett radar.
We all know what the apology does from a tactical media perspective. I will not pretend that I know what level of remorse is in his heart for Jimmy T. I don’t. Could he and Rosenhaus be sitting in front of a laptop with Monty Burns-like evil grins? Yes. Could I see him teary-eyed, hugging the sweater-vest eyeing the samurai sword? Yes. I just don’t know the guy personally.
When Clarett terrorizes another human being at gunpoint, that says, I will pull a Costanza, and step on kids if I think there is a fire. (Hope everyone remembers that episode). When Pryor sells some memorabilia or takes the borrowed cars he is offered, it’s irresponsible, but not the same as robbing someone for them.
All of that said, the extent to which I care what happens to him is minimal. I wouldn’t spite him, and in fact, would lean towards supporting his potential NFL career. By supporting, I mean, still thinking it’s cool when he says ‘THEE’ Ohio State University before Sunday Night Football.
How he does depends a lot on where he ends up and how hard he works. I don’t see him as too much more of a crapshoot than Cam Newton, and some bright franchise that shall remain nameless decided to spend their number one pick on him. That pick ignited a QB draft panic that suddenly made Christian Ponder elite NFL material. I think someone will give him a shot, just a matter of what he does with it really.
SportsChump: One could argue that Pryor held Buckeye Nation at gunpoint, but we’ll leave it at that. So Luke Fickell is now your man, huh? Are you okay with that selection? And what was your take on all the bogus Urban Meyer rumors? Wouldn’t that eerily be like dating an ex-girlfriend of mine?
Croshere: I would say Meyer would be more like marrying your ex-wife at my house of worship.
As far as the coach, I think a young guy who came from the program is a great direction. Once again with Pryor, do I wish we were heading in to fall with no scandal, Tressel and Pryor? Of course. Do I wish Pryor was an emotional leader who feared God and refused to screw coed’s? Can’t all be Tebow, brotha!
Figured I would let that marinate and add, I really don’t care if Pryor was an active atheist who bedded every girl on north campus. A Heisman and a couple BCS title’s would be great, as I am sure you know.
Oh yeah, am I ‘Bash’ on the website now? Food for thought.
Speaking of impending lawsuits, what’s your take on college athletes getting paid? You hinted earlier that it’s an unjust system. Certainly I don’t mean for the two of us to knock out some diabolical, twenty-two step plan wherein we reimburse the student athlete for his efforts, but it seems like if we maintain the status quo, we’ll continue to have athletes on the take and programs that take the hit.
Bash aka Croshere: The problem is who gets what?
“Student athlete” ranges from captain of the water polo team to star QB of the BCS championship team that makes the school ten million dollars. Trying to have the institutions compensate athletes directly is a logistical nightmare.
If you used a ‘socialist’ structure where all athlete’s got a flat compensation, the corruption would continue for sure. I think an elite football player is still looking to boosters if he knows he is getting the same $142 a semester as the backup forward on the women’s basketball team. The ‘corporate reward’ model offers just as many, if not more pitfalls.
The question of should we, is a maybe. The elite athletes that make the school millions certainly deserve something. The question of ‘how’ is incredibly complicated.
SportsChump: Well, sir, I’ll leave you with this and again, thanks for taking the time to hopefully find some closure, Croshere, with these words.
Obviously, we’re nowhere near resolving the institution of college football as it currently stands and it’s those Saturdays so many of us live for.
Since you’re a betting man, I’ll put you on the spot. Does Tressel coach again? And how many wins do you give your Buckeyes this season?
P.S. I’m secretly hoping enough depressed Buckeye fans skew the line and that taking the over might be the smart play.
CroshereBash: The Buckeyes go undefeated and win the BCS title next year. As far as Jim T, we are a society that forgets. If he says and does the right things, he will be forgiven, assuming he wants to come back. He will just have to convince some AD that he is a ‘changed man’.
And there you have it, sports fans. I told you he was committed.