Friday, November 19, 2004

Something Tells Me They're Not Having Fun at Ohio State

At first, I was starting to wonder if Woody Hayes is rolling over in his grave because of the latest football mess at Ohio State.

But then I remembered that Hayes was fired as the Buckeyes’ football coach in 1978 because, in a fit of anger, he punched a Clemson linebacker named Charlie Bauman in the Gator Bowl.

So Woody obviously was no model of discipline and would have been of no help in what’s going on at Columbus now.

At the center of the controversy is Maurice Clarett, who played one year of football for the Buckeyes and has been a headache for coach Jim Tressel and athletic director Andy Geiger ever since.

Clarett has said he was provided loaner cars by Tressel, was given phony jobs by boosters and phony grades by professors.

The Ohio State case may or may not be an isolated one.

Officials and boosters at other universities, of course, are hesitant to be critical of what may be going on in the Buckeyes’ program for fear it may be going on at their places, too.

Buy a game-day program on any campus and chances are you’ll see the dealers named and pictured who provide loaner cars to coaches, athletic directors and athletic department personnel.

It’s something that’s allowed under NCAA rules.

I know colleges wine and dine car dealers because I saw it happen.

Twenty and 30 years ago I flew on a number of chartered flights that carried Iowa State’s players and coaches to road games. One trip each season was always set aside as the “car dealers’ trip.” A favorite for that was the game against Colorado at Boulder.

If there wasn’t a game at Boulder, another attractive trip – maybe New Mexico, Utah or Arkansas – would be chosen for the car dealers.

As far as I know, everything was on the up-and-up. I saw no hint that anyone other than coaches and other designated athletic department people were using the cars. If the star tailback was getting the keys to the ignition of a Buick V-8 [those were big 20 and 30 years ago], I certainly wasn’t aware of it.

But I have no idea what goes on at Ohio State, where 64 dealers provide cars to the athletic department and get good deals on season ticket prices in return, or anywhere else. Clarett may be telling the truth or he may not be telling the truth when he says he got loaner cars.

He’s been loose with the facts before. Only the NCAA will be able to decide if he’s lying this time.

Regardless, this has all the makings of something that could rock the shaky world of intercollegiate athletics even more.


Oh, yes. One other thing.

Jim O’Brien sued Ohio State the other day for $3.4 million.

O’Brien is the Buckeyes’ former men’s basketball coach. He says his dismissal violated terms of his contract.

O’Brien was fired after he admitted giving $6,000 to a recruit.

I wonder what Woody would think of that?

Oh, never mind.


Imagine this. Jeff Merron of doesn’t think much of the Telephone Trophy.

What’s that, you say you don’t know anything about the famous Telephone Trophy?

Well, let me tell you about it.

In the 2004 Iowa State football media guide, it says:

“When the field phones were tested prior to the Iowa State-Missouri game of 1959, it was found that both teams could hear each other. The problem was solved by game time, but not without considerable worry on the part of the coaches. The Northwestern Bell Telephone Co. of Ames had a trophy made and presented it to Iowa State to be awarded each year to the team winning the game. An odd sidelight to the whole affair was that the same thing happened to Missouri later in the year in a game played at Columbia.”

Merron has the Telephone Trophy No. 4 on his list of the most bizarre college football trophies.

“Whenever my Web-based phone service goes kaflooey due to interference between my Bluetooth mouse, my Airport network, my cordless phones and the radio receivers the CIA secretly implanted in my fillings, I long for the good old days of simple, reliable land lines,” Merron writes.

The Telephone Trophy will be up for grabs, of course, when Missouri plays at Iowa State on Nov. 27.

By the way, Merron said Floyd of Rosedale—the bronze pig that’s awarded to the Iowa-Minnesota winner every year—also “received votes” in the bizarre category.

That’s where I draw the line. Nothing bizarre about Floyd. Or the trophy.

Vol. 4, No. 278
Nov. 19, 2004