I did not make this headline up
What Is Love?
OSU fans are, as you might expect, displeased with the Pryor items over the last couple days:
Leading the charge in trying to unravel something is MGoBlog, which is really a shame, because Brian has spent the better part of the past two weeks railing against the "jihad" WVU has launched against Rodriguez.
Two major differences: I am not a member of the Michigan athletic department with a credulous reporter in hand, and I am not making obviously false statements like "it's like nothing ever existed." I am making a fairly logical leap from "OSU fans are basically Alabamans" and "OSU coaches are having dinner with a guy who lets Pryor borrow his Corvette" to "something fishy is going on." Point the second has been covered over the past couple days and has been confirmed by Jeanette locals, OSU's Scout site, and Scout guru Bob Lichtenfels.
Point the first: Basically Alabama. Ohio State boosters are awesome. Local dealerships are exceptionally generous with their test-drive programs:
Clarett sat out the 2003 season after he was charged with misdemeanor falsification for filing a police report claiming that more than $10,000 in clothing, CDs, cash and stereo equipment was stolen from a car he borrowed from a local dealership. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Ohio State suspended Clarett for misleading investigators, and for receiving special benefits worth thousands of dollars from a family friend.
"Family friend" indeed. A poor kid from Youngstown in his first year in Columbus just happens to have a close personal friend who owns a car dealership.
You can find super-awesome jobs:
During his sophomore season, after he claimed the starting quarterback job and beat Michigan â€” a feat that cinches your celebrity in Columbus â€” he walked into a local health-care provider looking for a summer job and came out carrying an envelope with $500 in it. The cash was given to him by an Ohio State season-ticket holder named Robert Q. Baker, who bragged to co-workers that he owned Smith.
You can find a place to live:
Salyers claims the Roslovics reneged on a verbal agreement, allegedly orchestrated by then Ohio State assistant coach Paul Biancardi, to pay her $1,000 a month plus reimburse expenses if she would provide for Savovic during his time at Ohio State. In depositions, Salyers describes how over a four-year period she became a surrogate mother to Savovic, giving him food, shelter, clothing, transportation, spending money and other expenses.
(It should be noted, given the OSU denials later in that article, that Savovic was later declared ineligible and OSU was forced to vacate the games he played.)
There's a pattern of behavior here even if you don't include the documentation of widespread academic fraud in the New York Times, the Maurice Clarett ESPN the Magazine story, and the $3000 AJ Hawk just happened to have lying around. (I know Hawk looks like a caveman, but he's probably heard of a bank.) It involves Ohio State fans with lots of money ignoring NCAA regulations. Sure, all these things could be a completely innocent athletic department beset on all sides by those who would destroy it without cause. Occam's razor says otherwise.
(No doubt this assertion will draw "OMG Ed Martin" responses from the yokel crowd. 1) Ed Martin is not a pattern, he's a dead guy. 2) Martin was a Detroit numbers-runner looking to ingratiate himself with local basketball talent and maybe launder a few hundred grand or so, not a super-enthusiastic booster. Until Martin was provided gratis Final Four tickets he had no connection with the program. You are comparing one outlier with no real interest in Michigan's athletic program except as the most conveniently local source of potential NBA players to a pattern of malfeasance; you are stupid.)
Ohio State fans saying "I'm shocked, shocked!" when the pristine reputation of their athletic department is brought into question is somewhere between comical and infuriating. Please. Just because you've managed to rationalize it away doesn't mean everyone else has to.
Does it matter in the long run? Likely no. The NCAA has all the investigative might of Inspector Clouseau. The appearance of funny stuff will remain but an appearance.
The bigger issue here is Pryor's eligibility. Michigan fans remember the glorious three-month period when Kevin Gaines wasn't a psychopath, Jamal Crawford was eligible, and Michigan basketball looked like it was on the upswing under Brian Ellerbe of all people, and cringe. This is what happened to young Jamal:
Jamal Crawford is a rookie with the Chicago Bulls and making a lot of money. But Crawford still wishes he was playing basketball at Michigan.
"I miss college a lot," he said. "I live in a college area now because I like to be around college kids."
Crawford felt trapped last year when he decided to leave Michigan following his freshman season.
He already had served an eight-game suspension for one mistake -- sending the NBA a letter that said he intended to enter the 1999 draft before he enrolled in college. He had missed six other games and was ordered to repay $15,000 in benefits to a Seattle businessman, whom he had lived with for three years during high school. The NCAA later said he could give $11,300 to the charity of his choice. If he didn't pay, Crawford would lose his eligibility.
The infinite kindness of the NCAA: instead of paying the Seattle businessman 15 grand you don't have, you can give Jerry's Kids 11 grand you don't have. Crawford entered the draft, blew up at a pre-draft camp, and was picked 8th overall as Michigan fans clutched their head between their knees in a futile attempt to keep it from exploding.
Crawford was a nice kid with a lack of foresight who got offered stuff and, as most people would, accepted. Pryor's been offered stuff and has evidently accepted. How much stuff and how much of a paper trail there is will determine if the NCAA comes knocking.
It would be just like Angry Michigan Safety Hating God to allow Pryor to commit to Michigan, start six games his freshman year, and then have the NCAA pull a Crawford; this is kind of what I expect to happen because recent experience has taught me that this is what I should expect.