The NCAA announced Thursday that Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas have been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling Ohio State memorabilia. Immediately after the announcement, comparisons echoed throughout the Internet comparing the Ohio State situation to the one that embroiled Auburn quarterback Cam Newton late in the 2010 regular season. While the Newton situation may be similar in the fact that they involved the eligibility of a star quarterback, that's where the comparisons stop. In reality, the two situations are much different.
"If Terrelle Pryor had a family member sell his ring, he wouldn't have been suspended at all."
Quotes like the one above bounced around Twitter like Plinko chips on the Price Is Right for about five hours Thursday afternoon. While that may be the cheap and easy pop, it's overlooking one key fact.
In the Ohio State case, the NCAA ruled that extra benefits actually changed hands. In Cam Newton's case, the NCAA (you know, the group that knows more about the situation than pretty much everybody else) ruled that there was not evidence that extra benefits changed hands. Overlooking this obvious, documented fact is extremely irresponsible.
The more appropriate comparison would be to Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, who was suspended four games to start the 2010 season for selling his 2009 Independence Bowl jersey to an agent. Green's jersey was valued at $1,000. The values of the items in the Ohio State case range from $1,000-$2,500. So when factoring in the value of the merchandise in the Ohio State case, the suspensions of Pryor, Herron, Posey, Adams and Thomas shouldn't be surprising.
Of course, Georgia was forced to suspend Green immediately, while the Ohio State players are allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl. Trying to justify that one takes a lot of work, but that's a different argument for a different day.
If you want to be mad about the Ohio State players being allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl, fine. Lord knows you have plenty of ammunition with that one. If you want to be mad about the fact that the players are in trouble for selling their own memorabilia, fine. After all, they own it. If you want to be mad that college football players aren't paid, fine. An argument can certainly be made for compensation. But comparing the Ohio State situation to Cam Newton's case is comparing apples to oranges. In one case, benefits changed hands. In the other, benefits didn't. Simple, concise and relevant facts like this can't be overlooked.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at
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