Why Ohio State football took the low road

Guest post from Ed Cmar, The Sports Bank.net and Inside Hockey.com

Although this analysis of the confounding reinstatement of Ohio State backup linebacker Storm Klein comes a week after the fact, I decided instead to see whether there would be any resonating outrage over this and other off-season arrests of current Ohio State University (OSU) football players.  As a resident of Central Ohio for 27 years and an alum of OSU, I had hoped that someone, anyone would have stood up and questioned how these off-field incidents were handled by the athletic department.

Well, I hoped, anyway – I should have known better.

 

For a program that is currently serving the penalties levied against them for NCAA infractions resulting from not reporting, in writing, the knowledge of players who violated NCAA rules regarding receiving cash and other compensation for player jerseys and other paraphernalia in 2010, you would think that maybe, just maybe, they would go out of their way to demonstrate that “business as usual” would no longer be tolerated.  But they have done nothing of the sort.

 

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Here is a timeline of the incidents and how they were “treated” by the new head football coach, Urban Meyer

June 2nd – Tight End Jake Stoneburner and Offensive Lineman Jack Mewhort were arrested by suburban Central Ohio police on a charge of obstructing justice.  Police spotted Stoneburner, Mewhort and another man, who had no connection with the football team, urinating on the side of a restaurant near Stoneburner’s house. When police shined their spotlight on them, the three men ran not knowing the light belonged to police, according to the player’s lawyer, Mark Collins.  Stoneburner and Mewhort were stopped about 40 yards away.

June 4th – OSU decided to bar the players from all team activities and their facilities.

August 13th – Stoneburner and Mewhort reinstated to team – Stoneburner is switched to Wide Receiver.

July 28th -Ohio State running back Bri’onte Dunn was cited by the Alliance, Ohio Police Department for alleged disorderly conduct as well as possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

August 20th – Bri’onte Dunn was cleared of all charges stemming from his July 28th arrest.  The ruling cited that there was not enough evidence to support the charges.  However, Dunn was found guilty of two minor traffic violations, amounting to $60 in fines plus court costs.  Dunn took the stand, refuting the testimony of his passenger who claimed that the two had been smoking marijuana in his car.  However, Dunn’s mother testified that the marijuana was in her car before she loaned it to Dunn but was unaware of how it got there.  Dunn was subsequently reinstated to the team.

July 7th – Linebacker Storm Klein is arrested on misdemeanor charges of domestic violence and assault.  Klein was arrestedafter an argument between himself and the mother of his child. Klein was accused of throwing the complainant into a door and causing injuries to her arms.

August 22nd – Klein pleaded to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge. Additionally, the domestic violence charge against him was dismissed. Klein’s girlfriend stated that Klein “didn’t hit her, didn’t intend to hurt her” and she wanted the charges dropped,” according to court documents.

August 23rd – Klein is reinstated to the football team although will serve a two-game suspension at the beginning of the season.  Coach Urban Meyer issues the following statement:  “As I had indicated previously, if there are any changes in the charges against Storm, I would re-evaluate his status,” Meyer said in a release. “The charges that would have violated our core values have been totally dismissed. I have spoken extensively to members of both families and that has prompted me to re-assess his situation and allow him back.”

Wow!  It sure sounds like the “Urban Era” is rife with adhering to the “core values” that he has implemented.

The first thing that comes to an objective mind – well, at least an objective mind that resides outside of the I-270 corridor – is what exactly Meyer discussed extensively with both families.  Whether or not there was intent to injure the mother of Klein’s child, something did happen and the young lady was injured.

And before anyone believes that this was Klein’s first “trip to the rodeo” as it relates to brushes with the law, I offer you this:

In 2005, Klein was found to have stolen liquor and got drunk with several underage children.  What was Klein’s age at the time, you ask?  13 years old.

The second and a more pervasive thought that comes to an objective mind is whether any contrition exists with the Ohio State football program and whether these new “core values” are a change from the “look the other way” approach that ultimately cost Jim Tressel his job or simply more of the same.

Finally, the most pervasive thoughts that come to an objective mind are these:

-          Why is no one outraged at any of this, particularly the domestic violence charges against Klein?

-          Why are there no domestic violence protest groups  at Ohio State football games?

-          Why has there not been one solitary article criticizing the handling of this incident or any of the incidents?

-          Is Ohio State “too big to fail” either in the eyes of their myopic fans or particularly in the eyes of the NCAA and the Big 10 Conference?

-          Is Ohio State football really all about winning or is it about doing things the right way?

Urban Meyer had a golden opportunity – no, three golden opportunities, particularly in the Klein case – to debunk the perceptions that Ohio State football was a bratty child who didn’t learn their lesson with the NCAA, that a new, “Zero Tolerance” philosophy was to be a beacon and the blueprint to lead the Buckeyes back to national prominence, but doing so the right way, that winning wasn’t everything.

Instead, Meyer and the rest of “Buckeye Nation” showed the rest of the country that winning is the only thing that mattered.  After all, with the lack of depth at the linebacker position this season, they couldn’t stand to lose an experienced linebacker (note: this last statement, of course, is made with complete sarcasm and disgust).

While I know I speak alone or at least in the great minority, as an alum and as a lifetime fan of Ohio State football, I am both disappointed and disgusted at both the football program and particularly their oft-criticized fans.

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