It’s rare for me to disagree with the Senator (blogosphere edition, not the recently disgraced coaching version), but this is not a productive question for Georgia fans to ask themselves:
Which leads me to ask Georgia fans the perennial water cooler question – would you trade places? It’s a pretty good comparison. Both schools were faced with a similar problem, although Ohio State’s was certainly larger in scope. And at this point, both star players have elected to leave their schools for professional careers.
Georgia and A.J. Green stepped up, told the truth from the beginning and were rewarded for their efforts with a season to forget. Knowing what you know now about Ohio State’s likely fate, would you be happier if the Dawgs had followed Tressel’s path, hidden the truth and taken the short-term rewards (12-1 season and a BCS game victory)? Or would you need even better results to live with the aftermath of decisions by a head coach and star player to ignore the rules?
Last year, Ohio State was fourth nationally in total defense and yards per play allowed. Georgia was 23rd and 38th in those two stats, respectively. Put A.J. Green on the field for all 12 games and Georgia isn’t going 12-1. The different manner in which Ohio State treated Pryor (or even the entire Tatgate Five, four of whom were on the offensive side of the ball and the fifth was a reserve defensive end) and Georgia treated Green doesn’t explain a six-game disparity in the standings. That analysis doesn’t work in a game with 22 starters.
That said, Blutarsky does raise an interesting angle that the NCAA will face when it considers sanctions for Ohio State. We are coming off of a season in which several teams lost key players because of suspensions for improper benefits. Ohio State’s head coach (and arguably their compliance department, which seems unable to find evidence of wrongdoing despite media outlets finding stories like candies tumbling out of a piñata) ignored evidence of similar violations on the part of his players. Doesn’t the NCAA have to reward schools like Georgia and North Carolina for being proactive in dealing with improper benefits by showing that the alternative is significantly worse? The NCAA needs to hammer Ohio State and not for punitive reasons or because the Bucks derived a major competitive advantage from its players trading memorabilia (that point is debatable), but rather to send a message to its members that self-reporting is a big deal. The whole system, which most closely resembles a rickety dam trying to hold back a flood of money headed towards the athletes who create it, depends on honest self-reporting. Interestingly, it’s a member of Jim Delany’s conference and not the ostensibly corrupt SEC that will need to be the punching bag.