Maurice Clarett, former Ohio State bad boy and NFL wanna-be, has shared his two cents on the Terrelle Pryor situation and he made it very clear that it’s not all Ohio State’s fault that it cannot keep an eye on it’s athletes. Said Clarett, “Anything that any player goes and gets is all based on him and who he meets in the community. The coaches and the university have no control over what the young guy’s doing [emphasis added]“.
Okay, while it’s easy to buy his point based on what has happened at Ohio State in the past year under former head coach Jim Tressel, I am not willing to concede that all coaches are knowingly recruiting and cultivating selfish, entitled, and misinformed athletes that have no understanding of the risks they are taking when they meet up with “community” folks who may want to give them free stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that most athletes are not from the best backgrounds and, as Colt McCoy’s wife so aptly pointed out in a radio interview this past week, it can be difficult to turn down money, gifts, and other necessary items when you’re struggling to find enough money to eat a decent meal on the weekend, but this is essentially what these athletes sign up for when they make the decision to play football for that particular university—right or wrong—most of them know the situation they will be facing for the next 3-5 years.
No one forces these guys to play college football and, as much as it would be easy to feel sorry for the position they are placed in—making millions for a football program which grants them nothing but notoriety in return—at the end of the day, they still are more fortunate than most.
Here’s the cut and dry of it: the college football athlete is idolized. If he’s a superstar, there is no question his experience as a college student-athlete is better than that of his counterparts. Even more, if said athlete plays well, lives up to expectations, and becomes the guy everyone expects him to be, he reaps the benefits of his hard work when he’s drafted into the pros—where he can potentially make millions of dollars and garner endless amounts of fame.
That said, it’s difficult for the average Joe who watches these guys develop and become the heroes they worship on Saturday to look at their situation and say they feel sorry for them.
On the other hand, logic dictates that you understand the quandary that these same same athletes face when they see their jersey number in the stands or their likeness on a video game and come to the realization that the NCAA and university they have sworn to obey and respect the rules of are the same ones that profit off their name and likeness—in perpetuity.
That’s a hard pill to swallow as well, I’m sure.
But, back to Clarett’s statement about Ohio State not having any control, we cannot as college football fans accept that our athletes have the right to run amok and afoul of the law. Their actions hurt not only the programs we cheer for and love, but the reputations of all the athletes who continue to do the right thing each season—regardless of the hardship it may cause.
All of these guys aren’t breaking laws and taking advantage of the benefits of being a college football player and it is because of them that it’s hard to justify the actions of those who do as anything other than selfish.
Terrelle Pryor and others like him have to be the exception and not the rule in college football, otherwise the system is far more broken than any of us truly know. And, if it is broken, then it’s high time the NCAA do a better job of fixing it or else they are as much an enabler to these acts of entitlement as those who do the enticing in the first place.