Coach's Corner

We're less than two weeks away from the kickoff and Maurice Clarett has yet to practice for the upcoming season at Ohio State. That's THE Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and the scene of the opening game for the Washington Huskies.

I really don't understand how they get a home game and the Huskies don't get a return engagement. You don't play a program like the Buckeyes and play strictly on their terms. The past has shown that in this series, the home team almost always wins.

Considering that they are the undefeated defending national champions and are returning their whole offense, you would have to question the scheduling that does not include a return trip the next year.

Regardless of the odds, there is one factor that may work in the favor of the Huskies, and that is the uncertainty surrounding Maurice Clarett's status. Will he play or won't he?

Considering his current situation for which he is under investigation for everything from academics to insurance fraud, one would think at first glance that he's going to sit this one out.

But not so fast! The Dawgs, who look to be in over their heads, had better prepare to play against Clarett. Expect the unexpected, and frankly, it wouldn't be that big of a shock to see him. He is obviously a very talented running back, and at 6 feet and over 235 pounds, is a veritable bowling ball to tackle. He is one of the greatest freshman tailbacks ever in the Big-10 and had a monstrous first season, gaining 1,266 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns.

He is picked by many to be a Heisman candidate and is touted as the best back in the country.

So be it. Bring him on and let's see how our defense does stopping him. There can be no doubt he will be a target if he plays. My opinion is that he does NOT want to play anyway. I think he will be declared ineligible for at least the Husky game and the Dawgs will win because of the uncertainty and distraction surrounding that ordeal. Nice to have someone else have a steaming turd dropped into their punchbowl for a change.

Now, wouldn't that be a great way for Gilbs to start his career here at Washington? A road win against the defending national champs? It's about time something good happened to these kids and OSU could be ripe for an upset with the Clarett distraction.

BIG might not be enough to describe the magnitude of this clash. Has there ever been another season opener as big as this one? An upset here would rank with the Whammy in Miami for great non-conference wins on the road. The Huskies have never been intimidated by playing big programs and there is enough talent to pull it off. The whole nation will be watching, and so might Maurice Clarett.

For those that don't know, Clarett declared last year that he wanted to go straight to the pro's after his freshman year. Even though the NFL does not allow for early entry like basketball and baseball, it does give the go-ahead for kids to enter once their class goes through four years. Obviously, Clarett would have to hire lawyers who are willing to challenge the early entry rule, but it appears to be a legal battle that could easily be won. Why shouldn't a kid be allowed to play professionally if he is good enough? It is obviously a violation of his opportunity to earn a living and there isn't a court around that wouldn't use basketball as a precedent.

Another reason why I'm not sure he really wants to strap it on in college again is that he appears to be on the selfish side. He is an infamous trash talker as a player and is constantly woofing and smack talking his opponents. After fumbling three times against Northwestern last year, he went off on a tirade on the sidelines, directed at his position coach, Tim Spencer. He presents a bad-ass image of himself.

As the season wore on last year he got worse for it. In the first eight games he rushed for over 100 yards in six of those contests. In the last six games, he rushed for over 100 yards only once. In the games he played in, the Buckeyes averaged 38 points per game and in the ones he didn't play, they averaged 20 points.

Not hard to see the difference he could make in this game, is it?

Another interesting sidebar, this is the same kid who held his own autograph session in a mall because he was getting so much hate-email from the fans. This is the same kid who wanted to go to a funeral for a friend who was shot, while his team was practicing for the national championship. No one would take issue about his attending that event, but to berate his university for not paying his way was typical of his selfish attitude. He said the AD, Andy Geiger, and the administration was "jerking" him around, and demanded to be allowed to go.

You think he might be used to getting his own way?

Hey, he is The Man, but remember that football is a team sport and his teammates are pretty darn good without him. I'm not sure if he is guilty of anything that would declare him out of the first game but I'm pretty confident that if he is declared ineligible that he will immediately embark on his professional aspirations. He will immediately challenge the system and attempt to become the Spencer Haywood of football.

Haywood, of the Seattle Sonics, was the first successfully challenge the NBA and play basketball professionally right out of high school.

With him or without him the Buckeyes are going to be tough. I just have a feeling that he really wants to move on and be somewhere else making a lot of money. I would bet anything (I can do that since I no longer coach) that this kid never gets his college degree. Isn't it interesting how many Ohio State players leave early for the pros? It's another strange coincidence that this is the second time right before the Buckeyes play the Huskies that their star player is under investigation.

Remember Joey Galloway? Oh, but he only took $200 from an agent so he only missed a game or two.

Maurice Clarett is a great player and he knows it. His status is still in question and if he doesn't play, Washington's chances of winning this game have to increase, don't they?

Of course they do. However it all washes out, bring on the Buckeyes, with or without Maurice. I'm still standing behind the Dawgs. Top Stories