Tressel, Geiger Discuss Smith Suspension

OSU coach Jim Tressel and athletic director Andy Geiger met with the media Monday afternoon to discuss the suspension handed down to quarterback Troy Smith for a violation of unspecified team and NCAA rules.

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel and athletic director Andy Geiger met with the media this afternoon to discuss the suspension handed down to sophomore quarterback Troy Smith.

The university announced earlier in the afternoon that Smith had been suspended and would not play in the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl as a result of a violation of team and NCAA rules and standards.

Geiger said the university has petitioned the NCAA for Smith's reinstatement for the 2005 season. Neither he nor Tressel would discuss the nature of Smith's indiscretions.

This announcement comes one month after ESPN launched an expose into the OSU program where Maurice Clarett and other former players claimed they were lavished with money and no-work jobs. However, Geiger said these allegations involving Smith do not relate to Clarett or any previous issues.

"It's it's own thing, number one, even though everybody will try to draw connections," Geiger said. "It's disappointing for Troy and it's disappointing for the football team. But contrary to showing a program that's not in control, I think this shows a program that's in control. We just declared our quarterback ineligible. Now, we're going through the proper procedures. It's sad for Troy and it's sad for his teammates and for the coaching staff and the fans and everybody. But we're doing things the right way.

"He's ineligible for this game and we have applied for reinstatement for his future."

Geiger indicated that the university was made aware of possible rules violations involving Smith.

"We got some information," the AD said. "We researched it and investigated it ourselves. We discovered there was truth to the incident report. We declared him ineligible and reported it to the NCAA and we're now applying for reinstatement. We've had similar things before. This is not a new procedure.

"We found out Thursday, acted Friday and we're completing it at this point."

Geiger said the school will not reveal the nature of Smith's rules violations: "We're not going to disclose the exact nature of what happened and that's the way it is. It's in the nature of NCAA rules."

The AD also said OSU does not expect to have to forfeit any games over these rules violations. Geiger did not provide an exact timetable for when any violations may have occurred.

"The litmus test (for university sanctions) is did we know, should we have known?" he said.

Geiger believes Smith should be reinstated by the NCAA in time for spring practice.

"When he gets reinstated for eligibility remains to be seen, but we're confident he will play next season," Geiger said.

The Coach Speaks

Tressel also shared his viewpoints on this latest controversy to hit the OSU program.

"Troy has broken team rules and NCAA rules," Tressel said. "You lose privileges for playing the game. We have appealed to have reinstatement but it wouldn't be for this game. That's about as specific as we can be.

"We became aware of something we needed to research on Thursday, so that's what we've been doing the last few days. What we're doing right now … is self-imposing a suspension and then seeking reinstatement for the future, not for this game, though."

Tressel had a chance to discuss the matter with Smith, who became a household name around the state with his play in OSU's season-ending win over Michigan.

"Obviously, he feels terrible that he didn't take care of his responsibilities as he should have," Tressel said. "He feels terrible for his teammates. He's anxious to be back with his team in the winter. He knows he can't travel or play in the game.

"In fact, the statement he said to me was, `I understand I'll start at the bottom of the totem pole when I get back. I understand that's what I should do.' "

The coach talked about what he was thinking when he got the news that Smith was in hot water.

"It was a huge surprise," he said. "Watching him grow and mature and so forth, it is a huge surprise. I asked the coaches to call their position people and let them know there was something on the horizon. I'm sure every one of them it impacted them differently. But they know that like any time anything happens, we confront it, we handle it and we move on."

Sophomore Justin Zwick will now start at quarterback against Oklahoma State, while freshman Todd Boeckman – who has not played all season in hopes of redshirting – would be the backup, Tressel said.

"The one thing I've said to some of our staff that is disconcerting as anything is that Todd Boeckman is one play from being in the game," Tressel said. "He worked so hard to position himself to redshirt and have an opportunity at more years. That may not happen.

"But, obviously, we feel good about Justin Zwick. We know in the game of football on the first play of the game, you could move up to the top spot. We'll cross that bridge."

Zwick has not played since leaving the Iowa game in week six with a shoulder injury. But Tressel has confidence in him.

"I didn't talk to Justin," Tressel said. "Contrary to popular opinion, I'm not the quarterbacks coach. Even though when they throw picks, I'm supposed to be. Coach (Joe) Daniels was supposed to call him. Justin, he's been a guy preparing for a bowl game and looking forward to the opportunity and appreciative of the opportunities he had before. I'm sure he'll do a great job."

Tressel also refused to go in detail about Smith's rules infractions.

"That's the privacy of being a student-athlete," Tressel said. "All we can do is when we get enough information is confront that. That's what we've done here today and pay the penalties and handle what happens from here, without being specific of what it's all about.

"We're dealing with humans. We're dealing with kids and dealing with people who impact kids and people who sometimes don't give kids great advice. I think you go all the way to the bitter end with a stiff upper lip and try to figure out better ways you can get messages across even better. You handle it when you haven't."

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