Special thanks to Steve Spencer of The Columbus Dispatch for use of his "Mount Buckmore" artwork.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Weekend Read

What's $15 million between friends?

Our traveling reporter friend, Paul, tipped me off to
this the day Jenkins and Robo announced their return, but on Thursday The Dispatch picked up on this great story. The OSU juniors collectively decided to come back for a senior season ("juniors" meaning a smaller group considering red/gray shirts and I'm assuming non-starters like Jamario O'Neal were planning on sticking around regardless.)

This is a great read for any Buckeye fan but I have to recommend watching the audio slide show as well. I'll get to the meat of the post in a minute, but I can't stress enough how key it was that not once did any of the players mention anything about coming back to beat Michigan or, god forbid, win a National Championship. After the failed, albeit bad ass, "Take Home Talk" video, the last thing we needed to kick-off the 2008 campaign was a publicly mentioned mission statement (a la the boys up north.)


In my opinion, this article an example of one, if maybe the largest, reason that college football will always be a more "pure" form of the game. NCAA football has its fair share of unscrupulous goings ons year in and out (Google: RichRod, Reggie Bush, Dennis Franchione) and lets not even touch on the college football profit machine, but it's the intangibles like character and loyalty that resonate the loudest.

Perhaps it's too harsh to rag on the NFL as a whole, since The League hasn't yet managed to corrupt OSU (modern) legends like A.J. Hawk, who evidently delivered a powerful senior season endorsement to protege James Laurinaitis. Though
the specifics of the conversation weren't touched on, Laurinaitis and the others made it clear that pros like Hawk and Bobby Carpenter (whose perks include tagging along on Tony Romo's pre-playoff game retreats) harped on the invaluable college experience and their shaggy-haired memories of Fast Times at The 'Shoe.

Though I can't quite sympathize with the "rough" life that D-I scholarship athletes Boone, Freeman and the rest will have to "endure" next year, it's truly impressive when you consider that , as Jenkins more or less mentions, most of those kids flat-out turned down a multi-million dollar paycheck. In a few months they will watch the NFL Draft from their campus apartments and see former teammate Vernon Gholston's (where was he during this shower meeting?) name appear in the first two hours. And then they will go to class, work out, grab a burrito and read about how good USC is.

Will the money still be there in the '09 Draft? Absolutely. Barring any tragic injury, the juniors all (with the possible exception of Laurinaitis) guaranteed themselves a higher pick and more of that green. But don't let take away from the significance of last week's decisions. In a culture where "get rich" is always proceeded by "quick" and picking a suitcase with only $300,000 on Deal Or No Deal is reason for disappointment, a 21-year-old postponing his fortune to be with his friends is news worthy of The Enquirer.

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