Kirk Larrabee of Bucknuts.com has been covering the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes since 1997, and has been a part of Bucknuts.com since 1999. His contributions include Bucknuts Magazine, Bucknuts Radio Hour and Ohio's Future Stars Magazine. Badger Nation fans are encouraged to visit Bucknuts.com for all of their OSU information this season and beyond.
Badger Nation: After winning the national championship last year, and preseason expectations very high for the Buckeyes, could this be the most anticipated season in OSU history?
Kirk Larrabee: That's tough to say, but I'd guess it's certainly one of the two or three most highly-anticipated seasons in the past twenty years. Off the top of my head, I would say that 1998 is up there as well. The Buckeyes were everyone's #1 team heading into that season, and the feeling was that 1998 would be the championship year that fans were waiting for since 1968. Of course, Michigan State spoiled the party, but the excitement for that year was pretty high. This year though, the excitement may be just as high, if not higher.
BN: How will the Maurice Clarett situation affect this team, if at all? And what is your take on the Clarett situation?
Larrabee: One thing about this Ohio State team is they proved last year that they could play through adversity. Granted, this particular case may be bigger than anything they faced in 2002, but I think we'll see the team rally together around Maurice and make an effort to be even stronger. This group is resilient and should be able to remain focused. What will be interesting is to see how Maurice handles it. Will he too be focused, or will he let all this attention become a distraction? I have a feeling that once they step on the field, everything will go out the window but we will see.
I thought the article was irresponsible. There are some harsh accusations in there, and they are all based on a series of phone calls the reporter made with the graduate assistant and the teacher and nothing else. No other research was done to back up the claims. We'd be naive to assume that the allegations are definitely false and such things wouldn't happen at Ohio State, but at the same time, I cannot even begin to think of all the times I have been told something in a similar fashion (i.e., conversations, e-mails, etc), and the things I was told turned out to be untrue or even blatant lies. Even if they do come from people I believe or trust, I would not report anything without at least doing some more research, and it seems to me that the reporter here lacked that a bit.
Also, one thing I have learned from this job is that you have to use an open mind because the media does not always present the entire story. Unfortunately, the damage is done and the reputation of Ohio State has taken a hit as many people have taken the word of the article and the persons quoted in it as fact.
I personally am confident in the system Ohio State has in place to abide by the guidelines of the NCAA, and I am also confident the NCAA feels the same. The matter will be thoroughly investigated, and if violations are uncovered, they will report them and accept any punishment (as they should). If it is uncovered that cheating has taken place, OSU will not sweep it under the rug (contrary to what some may think).
Regarding Clarett, it does seem shaky that a star player would receive what could be interpreted as special help, but at the same time, no rules have apparently been broken in that regard, and if that's the case, then nothing should be done. I have a much bigger problem with the teacher sharing the details of the academic records of those two students. Regarding Chris Vance, he was having some off-the-field issues (his brother's murder right before the Minnesota game for one), but as we know, college professors don't have a whole lot of sympathy if more time is missed than they feel is neccessary. OSU has stated they feel confident in his eligibility for the Fiesta Bowl, but they should still look into the accusations and do what is necessary if they find rule violations. Finally, unless there is an agent involved, the issues with Maurice Clarett and LeBron James are most likely non-issues.
OSU Q&A: Part 1
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