That's one of the things OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel said yesterday about the recent media allegations. Dave Biddle has more."> That's one of the things OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel said yesterday about the recent media allegations. Dave Biddle has more.">

Krenzel defends OSU's academics; talks ESPYs

<I>"At a place like this, you are always going to get people looking into things and trying to badmouth the program and belittle the things we've accomplished."</I> That's one of the things OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel said yesterday about the recent media allegations. Dave Biddle has more.

Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel knows better than anyone that college athletes can succeed on the field and in the classroom.

Needless to say, he was not amused by the New York Times' allegations that academics are not stressed within the OSU football program.

We tracked down Krenzel on Monday and he carefully addressed some of the issues at hand.

First off, when the story first broke, did Krenzel believe that it could possibly be true?

"Through the people that I've dealt with, at the academic support services and the people I know are in charge and the type of people that they are, no, I don't believe that kind of stuff would happen at this university," Krenzel said. "But once again, I do not deal with a lot of the tutors – I am a very independent person – so I really don't know. I don't even know the entire situation with what's going on, just like most of my teammates. We don't know and it doesn't concern us. We can't really think about it. We're out here this summer trying to condition and get better as a team and that's our goal right now. In less than a month, we report as a team. We open up in (46) days against Washington and that's a huge game – they're a top-10 team. That's where our focus is."

Will this situation be detrimental to OSU's chances of a repeat national championship?

"Nah. The thing about our team is that we have guys that focus on what's important. Week in and week out last season, everyone was talking about, ‘Oh, undefeated national championship.' While our guys said, ‘Hey, Saturday. Or, hey, Jan. 3.' And it's going to be no different this year. Our guys are focusing on what we've got to run this afternoon. What the run is going to be, how they're going to get through it and make their times. It's a day-by-day thing and I think that's what's going to help us be successful," Krenzel said.

Where does that focus come from?

"It's a little bit of everything," Krenzel said. "A lot of it is Coach (Jim) Tressel and the way he handles himself and the way some of our older guys that have been here a while – those of us that have been here for four or five years – know that we've been at both ends of the spectrum. We know what it feels like to be 6-6 – for those of us that were here in '99 – and we know what it feels like to be 14-0. There's no coincidence that the year we were 14-0 we were more focused and we were more goal-oriented and we knew what we needed to do to win football games. You know, it's no secret, and I think it's going to carry over to this season."

Even with the best checks and balances system, couldn't one guy slip through the cracks? Couldn't one guy cheat and no one would know about it?

"I'm not going to comment on that because I don't know enough about it," Krenzel said. "I don't know all the people that are working there. But I do know the people who are in charge and I firmly believe that they would hire people below them that are trustworthy and are going to do their job the right way and provide the services that the academic support should have and they follow by all the guidelines. I firmly believe they do that."

Is it disappointing to see the program depicted in a negative way, especially coming of a national title?

"Yes, there is no doubt about it," Krenzel said. "It's definitely not something we would put in the script. But at a place like this, you are always going to get people looking into things and trying to badmouth the program and belittle the things we've accomplished. I think it's going to happen no matter where you are. A lot of times things are dismissed, a lot of times things get blown out of proportion and I think this is probably just a case where things are getting blown out of proportion. But I don't know the whole situation, never will, don't want to. We have other things to focus on."

Okay, enough with that stuff. How are you feeling about heading to Los Angeles for the ESPY Awards? (Wednesday night on ESPN; OSU up for three awards: Best Team; Best Coach; Best Game.)

"It's going to be a lot of fun," Krenzel said. "I'm excited, Mike (Jenkins) is excited. We get to go out there for three or four days and just kind of do something that not a lot of people get to do; meet a lot of people that not a lot of people get to meet. It's going to be a good time. I do not know what to expect and we're just going to go out there and have fun."

Aside from the show itself, what are some of the fun things you'll be doing?

"We are going to play in an ESPY-related celebrity golf outing (Tuesday) morning and then there is some sort of boxing match – Fight Night – at the Playboy Mansion – (Tuesday) night and we get to go to that too (huge smile on CK's face)."

Do you ever get star stuck?

"No, I don't. I really don't. Obviously when I was younger, you look at people, but having been in the situations that we've been in, doing the things that we've done and meet some of the people that we've met, and, you know, kind of when you have people look at us and say, ‘Oh, that's Michael Jenkins. Oh, that's Maurice Clarett.' And to know us as guys, we're just a bunch of kids. And you have to respect that and you have to be able to respect all these other guys that are going to be at the ESPYs and they're just people. They're doing what they do and they're really no different because they're on TV more often, or they're in movies, or they're playing a professional sport. You have to respect their privacy and let them do what they want to do. If they come up and talk to you, or you're introduced and you start a conversation, that's one thing," Krenzel said.

The gift bag at the ESPYs is said to be stuffed with a lot of cool items. Do amateur athletes get to keep that stuff?

"I think it would be a travesty if we don't because if we don't get to keep it, we're receiving some sort of special treatment because we are NCAA athletes. From the way I understand it, everyone who goes to the ESPYs, whether you're an athletes or an invitee, gets the gift bag."

Who else is going that you know besides Jenkins and Tressel?

"We each get to bring a guest and my fiancée (Beth Barr) is going."

Especailly with the ESPYs right around the corner, do you find yourself reflecting on last year's title every once in a while?

"No, we don't," Krenzel said. "I was actually thinking about that the other day. Everything we've done from mid-January on has just been focused on this year. Obviously, some of the events we do you go to because of things that happened last year, but you don't go there and think about last season. I'm going to be there this week having a little fun and relaxing, but a lot of the thoughts that are going to be running through my head will be about this upcoming season."

In closing, now that the New York Times' story is being exposed for what it is, I wanted to throw a few points out there.

1. Any newspaper editors or television news directors that allowed the word "scandal" to be used when referring to the Clarett story need to look the word up in the dictionary.

2. College professors help out "regular" students all the time. If you show interest in their class, most are so flattered that they will assist you in some way. They by no means will "give" you a grade, but if you show up during their office hours and tell them about your problems, most will try and help you. Even if you did not just set the OSU freshman rushing record, believe it or not.

3. Everyday that more facts are released, the Times' piece seems less and less credible.

4. Ohio State "fans" that rip Clarett (for what was written in the Times) are way off base. He did not call the Times. He did not offer them any information whatsoever. The paper printed second-hand/hearsay comments from a fired teacher's assistant that were attributed to Clarett. Who's to say for sure that he said anything to the TA about cheating? Yes, No.13 put his foot in his mouth a couple times during his freshman year, but that doesn't mean I am ready to believe everything negative that someone says about him. Especially someone who might have an axe to grind. Since his comments at the Fiesta Bowl, he has kept his mouth shut and has stayed out of trouble. I have not seen his name in any police reports. Hanging around with LeBron James is not a crime. Clarett is not perfect, but it's not too much to ask that OSU fans give him the benefit of the doubt. Simply put, without him, that national championship trophy is not sitting in the WHAC right now.


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