Jim Tressel: Don’t forget the Troy Smith case
Jim Tressel is out as the football coach at Ohio State, and the current series of scandals is only the latest, not the first, trouble Tressel encountered in Columbus. There was the Maurice Clarett case, in which the Buckeye star tailback was suspended for the 2003 season after receiving improper benefits, and, most interesting of all, the Troy Smith case.
Smith won the 2006 Heisman Trophy. But he was suspended late in the 2004 season for taking $500 from a booster. Smith was suspended for the Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma State and the 2005 season opener.
His infractions were similar to those of Oklahoma quarterback Rhett Bomar, who was booted from the Sooner squad in August 2006. Bomar quarterbacked OU in 2005 but took money from Big Red Sports & Imports for work he did not perform.
OU coach Bob Stoops did not suspend Bomar. Stoops banished Bomar. Now, sources have said that when Stoops initially called in Bomar, he asked Bomar about the infractions and Bomar denied them. Stoops had the proof, confronted Bomar and sent him on his way.
What if Bomar had come clean? Would he have been given a suspension, ala Troy Smith, and been allowed to return to the team? Who knows?
Stoops generally has been lenient with players who have been charged with misdemeanors. Usually a one-game suspension. Things more serious — Ryan Broyles’ theft charges, for example — have resulted in a season-long suspension. But when major NCAA violations have occurred, mercy has been sparse.
Nobody knows how clean any football program really is. OU is no exception. But the outward appearances look better for the Sooners than they do the Buckeyes. When an Ohio State quarterback, a backup but with loads of potential, broke the rules, he stayed on the team. When an Oklahoma quarterback, a starter with loads of potential, broke the rules, he was gone.
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