Pittman, Wells cleared
Sorry for the lack of posting around here lately. It really hasn't been due to a lack of time or topics to write about, but rather just a lack of motivation. You can bet that that will change, however, throughout this week.
I'll begin today's post with some very good news that has come up in recent days. After an investigation regarding the charity dinner that I mentioned a couple of days ago that put the eligibility of the team's two leading rushers, Antonio Pittman and Chris Wells, up in the air, the University determined that no violations occurred, and both backs were cleared. The article posted does a fantastic job clearing up some of the discrepancies associated with the NCAA guidelines, and thoroughly specifies what Ohio State did versus what is against the rules.
“We have talked to all the principles involved and are confident that the players and their families had no prior knowledge of the event. Additionally, no money was given to anyone associated with the Ohio State football program. Those are the litmus tests.”Also, it turns out that the dinner was put on by Dawn Stiggers-Ferguson, a friend of the players' families, and not the families themselves, which many people (including myself) had assumed. Since the players were unaware of the situation before the dinner, and none of the money was given, there was nothing that the NCAA could do to reprimand them.
Obviously, this is a huge sigh of relief to everyone from the fanbase, all the way up to Gene Smith. If both players were deemed ineligible for the national championship game, the fallout would have been catastrophic. Not only would it mean our two best runners would be gone, making the offense one-dimensional, but it would have put Tressel's offensive game-planing and creativity to the ultimate test. Maurice Wells may still be better than any of Florida's tailbacks, but he's so frail that he'd become almost worthless after 15 carries and in short yardage situations. What would Tressel do then? It would have been a near-guarantee that Troy would surpass his season high in carries (11), and then we would really see what this team was capable of when facing adversity.
Luckily, however, none of this needs to be worried about. I hate to say that when both teams are at full strength, this game will be over by halftime, but looking at things on paper, there's no reason to believe that this game will be a nail biter. However, I have that feeling deep inside of me that this will be Ohio State's toughest test all season long. To me, Florida just seems to have that collective "it" factor that leads them to victory when nothing else is working, very similar to what the Bucks had in 2002. Perhaps it's just the memory of the 2002 championship game that is keeping me from predicting a blowout, perhaps I'm actually on to something here. I guess we'll find out the 8th.
Oh, and I wish everyone out there a very Happy New Years.