July 6, 2011

Potential sanctions not concerning for Bucks

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - It may as well be a guessing game - nobody knows what further punishment Ohio State's football program could be facing over the course of the next few months.

With a hearing with the NCAA scheduled for mid-August, Ohio State is in limbo-mode as it waits to what's in store for its future. The program's fate is in the NCAA's hands.

Even with the uncertainty - which could involve this year's team - Ohio State has maintained focus on winning football games. What could be in store in terms of punishment isn't quite a concern.

"It has been a little different (this summer) but not in the sense of outside forces coming in," said junior fullback Zach Boren. It is different as in our attitude as a team. Like I have been telling everyone, we have to have a chip on our shoulder. We have to come out and concentrate on winning right now."

Ohio State's football program has becoming synonymous with scandal over the course of the past six months, stemming from an incident where prominent players had sold memorabilia given to them by the university in exchange for cash and other benefits.

Things went from bad to worse when it was found that former head coach Jim Tressel had previous knowledge of those infractions being committed but opted not to come forward with the information to his superiors or the NCAA.

The program has already self-reported those infractions and self-imposed a five-game suspension for the players involved and its former head coach.

Tressel has since resigned and one of the prominent players involved in the scandal - quarterback Terrelle Pryor - has also since left the program.

The other players involved, which includes running back Dan Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, and offensive tackle Mike Adams, all will serve the suspension for the first five games of the 2011 season.

But the question remains: will those self-imposed sanctions be sufficient in the NCAA's eyes? Most are saying Ohio State's actions are more severe than the penalties handed down.

"We aren't worried about what they're saying on the outside. We're more worried about what's happening on the inside," said defensive back Orhian Johnson. "That's a credit to our coaching staff and we are really are trying to just do work and play football."

Ohio State has been the target of other stories not involving the scandal in the months since, drawing a widespread national perception as a "dirty" program.

But the program plans to respond to the original letter of allegations handed down by the NCAA by Friday, which includes only the transgressions of Tressel and the players involved in the memorabilia/tattoo scandal.

That could eventually bode well for a program many are expecting to be harshly punished by the NCAA given all the new stories and allegations since the original incident aren't included in topics for the Aug. hearing.

But the potential for a bowl ban and scholarship reductions is still there and could happen if the NCAA finds that's what's consistent with past precedent. Those changes, of course, could effect the 2011 season, but the players don't seem to be concerned.

"I think we can only control what we can control," Sweat said. "I can't control what the NCAA does. I can only focus on getting better each and every day. If we do that, we're going to have a great shot.

"We have to move forward and we have the 2011 season and that's what we're focused on," he continued. "We can't relish in the past. It's all about looking forward. We are a month away from the season and we're all excited for that."

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.


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