Sunday Morning QB: What Will Clarett Get?

In the first edition of Sunday Morning Quarterback, we will assess the suspension Maurice Clarett faces, we'll relive last night's season opener and we'll look ahead at next weekend's slate of games.

Welcome to the first edition of Sunday Morning Quarterback. Each week, I will try and provide a mix of news and opinions on what we saw over the weekend of college football and we'll look ahead at the week ahead.

I will try and lead off each edition with my thoughts on Ohio State's latest game, then get into news and headlines around the Big Ten and the country.

Let's take the first snap:

* It was a genuine media circus downtown at the stadium Friday afternoon as Ohio State dealt with the impending suspension to star tailback Maurice Clarett.

There was athletic director Andy Geiger, as grim faced as he can be when the chips are clearly down. When the scrimmage ended, he gathered the four captains -- since they were about to address the media -- as well as head coach Jim Tressel to let them know where things stood.

Moments later, Krenzel stood defiant as media members peppered he and the other three captains with questions on Clarett's absence.

Next up was Tressel, who in classic Tressel fashion dealt with this serious issue with a mix of humor and seriousness.

Then came Geiger, who fielded questions from all angles, from the informed and uninformed alike. The AD refused to budge on the details of Clarett's alleged transgressions or on exactly what kind of price the star tailback will have to pay.

We know that our good friend Bruce Hooley of The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer has reported that his sources say the suspension will be in the neighborhood of six games. The Columbus Dispatch says it could be upwards of seven games.

Geiger, himself, did seem to indicate that the length of the possible suspension took Clarett and his people by surprise.

"I don't know how much agreement there was," Geiger noted of the meeting held earlier in the day at St. John Arena.

I have not researched the situation and, honestly, nobody outside of the NCAA, Geiger and a few others at OSU know what Clarett is being "charged" with.

Everybody reflects on two big precedents, which may or may not be applicable here.

In 1999, Florida State threw Laveraneus Coles under the bus after he and star Peter Warrick were discovered to receive over $400 worth of merchandise from a Tallahassee Dillards store for $21. Citing previous problems, FSU threw Coles off the team. That drastic step may have helped mitigate the damage for Warrick, who missed just two games (before later going into the Witness Protection Program with the Cincinnati Bengals).

Two years ago, UCLA bid adieu to star running back DeShawn Foster in early November after it was discovered that he was driving a car owned by a Hollywood actor. The NCAA refused to consider the school's appeal. Foster missed the school's last three regular season games as well as the bowl game.

Maybe he would have missed more time if it was discovered earlier in the year.

As I note, I'm not sure Clarett's situation is applicable to either of these examples. The suspension seems to deal with his use of a car supplied by a Columbus-area used car dealer.

"We wouldn't be involved with this if it wasn't serious," Tressel admitted.

So what comes next? Geiger will be submitting OSU's recommendation for Clarett's suspension on Monday. The AD says he will be using precedent in other cases to make that recommendation. Obviously, he is going to look at more cases than just the two I cited.

Geiger seems like a no nonsense kind of guy. He is dealing with a complex issue, certainly. Does he want to proffer a stiff penalty? Or does he want to look at OSU's schedule and see, for instance, that it would just be great if Clarett was back in the fold for the Oct. 11 game at Wisconsin?

My feeling is that precedent will weigh more heavily on Geiger's thinking than his team's schedule.

The Plain Dealer broke the suspension down as three games in connection with the use of the car as an extra benefit and three games from OSU as a penalty for filing a false police report in connection with an April break-in into the car.

That seems logical, although it certainly doesn't help OSU's chances when it heads to Wisconsin for Game 6, huh?

I think OSU fans should prepare for the worst -- six or more games -- and be pleasantly surprised if it comes in less than that.

In the meantime, OSU will pin its hopes on Maurice Hall, Lydell Ross and Ira Guilford -- a more than capable trio of tailbacks. It should be interesting.

Now, for the rest of today's snaps:

* Kansas State, ranked fifth, opened the college football season with a 42-28 win over Cal last night in the BCA Classic at Kansas City.

We already have a pair of Heisman Trophy front runners in K-State quarterback Ell Roberson (205 yards and 3 TDs passing and 145 yards and 1 TD rushing) and tailback Darren Sproles (175 yards and 1 TD).

I thought Cal did a good job of staying with the powerful Wildcats. Afterwards, Cal coach Jeff Tedford discussed K-State's dynamic duo.

"They made a lot of big plays," Tedford said. "But the credit goes to their two guys. I'm not sure they don't do that against anyone."

K-State coach Bill Snyder, one of the world's most uptight individuals, was pleased as punch with his offense's output. But his usually stingy defense allowed Cal, which was eighth in the Pac-10 in offense a year ago, to roll up 440 yards total offense.

"They'll be tested in practice on Monday," Snyder said of his team's D.

That's good they'll be tested in practice because they won't be tested over the next four weeks by these high caliber opponents -- Troy State, McNeese State, Massachusetts and Marshall -- all coming to Manhattan. Snyder has until Oct. 4, when K-State visits Texas, to get things straightened out.

* Michigan's Marlin Jackson has performed a neat magic trick, call it the disappearing bottle trick.

Jackson, the Big Ten preseason defensive player of the year, was accused of hitting a Michigan male student with a bottle during a party near campus. He was initially facing a felony charge. If convicted, his UM career likely would have been over.

But, instead, Jackson accepted a plea agreement for a misdemeanor and, ultimately, UM coach Lloyd Carr dealt his star player a one-game suspension. He will miss Saturday's home opener with always dangerous Central Michigan.

Is there any way Reecie can get the same deal?

* Washington isn't exactly controversy free as it comes to Ohio State next week.

Ousted coach Rick Neuheisel has filed suit in a Seattle court against both the school and the NCAA. Neuheisel is accusing the school of firing him to avoid an NCAA probe. He's calling that breach of contract.

He also alleges the NCAA's heavy-handed handling of his gambling case bordered on defamation and conspiracy.

It should be interesting to see how that one plays out.

* A lot of eyes in and around the Big Ten will be on Wisconsin's game at West Virginia Saturday (noon, ESPN) to see how much standout wide receiver Lee Evans will play. Evans missed all of last season due to a knee injury after setting records in 2001.

"Lee I think forgot how sore you get when you practice when you first start football again," said UW coach Barry Alvarez. "I think after having that layoff it probably took him a little longer than it would in normal year or that it did in the past. I think he has really made a lot of progress during camp. I have seen him be more and more confident going after balls, putting his foot in the ground. He is not being reluctant to go in and mix it up with other guys."

* That UW-WVU game is one of many worth watching this coming weekend. Using the coaches poll (rankings in parentheses), here are some other games of note:

Thursday night, No. 3 Miami (Fla.) takes on Louisiana Tech on a neutral field in Shreveport, La. ESPN has the coverage at 7:30 p.m.

Georgia (9) visits Clemson at noon Saturday on ABC. The Dawgs barely won 31-28 in Athens last year.

CBS has the season's first match-up of top-10 teams as Auburn (6) hosts USC (8) at 6 p.m. The Trojans won 24-17 at the L.A. Coliseum a year ago.

On Sunday, Virginia Tech (10) hosts Central Florida at 3 p.m. on ESPN.


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