There's been a bit of confusion and anger over the NCAA's decision to suspend six Ohio State players for five games next season for selling memorabilia and accepting discounted tattoos, but not to suspend them for the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. Well, it seems there's still a chance that none of the suspended players will play in the Sugar Bowl, though it's not the NCAA's decision.
The team met for the first time since the suspension was announced on Sunday, and according to a report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the suspended players apologized to their teammates at the meeting. According to the same report, the Ohio State seniors also got together to discuss whether or not they wanted the players suspended by the team for the bowl game as well.
According to sources, the suspended players are scheduled to travel with the team to New Orleans, but the final decision on what happens to quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, left tackle Mike Adams, backup defensive end Solomon Thomas and backup linebacker Jordan Whiting obviously lies with Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. One source said one scenario could include the sanctioned Buckeyes playing in the Sugar Bowl, but perhaps not starting.
If I had to guess, I don't think Tressel will sit any of the players for the Sugar Bowl. If anything, he'll choose the option to not start them, though I don't even expect that to be the case. Personally, while I understand why people are angry that none of the players were suspended for the bowl game, I tend to feel that suspending them for five games next season hurts Ohio State more than forcing them to sit out the Sugar Bowl would.
Let's be real, here, while the Sugar Bowl is a big deal, it doesn't actually mean anything in the big picture. It's not like the winner of the game has a chance to be the national champion. The only thing on the line in the game is Ohio State's pride as they face another SEC team in a BCS bowl game.
Suspending the players for next season, however, likely costs the Buckeyes a shot at a national title in 2011 and possibly a Big Ten title as well. Even if players like Terrelle Pryor decide to leave school early rather than sit out nearly half the season, that still means the Buckeyes won't have them next year, which will have an impact on the team's performance.
Though, had the NCAA just decided to suspend the players for six games, including the bowl game, that would have kept everybody off its back, but since when does the NCAA ever do anything in which it doesn't leave itself open to criticism?