According to Cleveland.com, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and the other five players suspended for the start of next season promised to return to the Buckeyes in 2011 in order to be allowed to play in Tuesday's Sugar Bowl.
At a press conference in New Orleans, OSU coach Jim Tressel said the NCAA would have forced the six to sit out the game against Arkansas if they had not vowed to play for the Buckeyes next season.
Pryor, receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams, running back Dan Herron and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas could opt to enter the NFL draft, a decision they must make by Jan. 15.
According to the Columbus Dispatch's web site, Tressel said he told the five juniors they "have to make any decision based on the future and the NFL prior to us leaving for our bowl game. It wouldn't be fair if someone was able to participate" and then leave.
According to Cleveland.com, Tressel also said at the Sugar Bowl press conference that none of the players found to have received improper benefits or sold football jewelry and memorabilia in 2009 would be punished or forced to sit out the bowl game.
That was not a surprise since Tressel has been relatively lenient in such instances in the past.
But Tressel and the NCAA seem shockingly naive in believing that Pryor, Posey, Adams and Herron have totally ruled out going pro, especially since a good performance in the Louisiana Superdome might help their draft stock.
They deceived Ohio State for over a year before they were caught, so why put any stock in a self-serving promise made now?
Pryor, Posey, Adams, Herron and Thomas were suspended for the first five games next season and will be forced to repay money and benefits ranging from $1,000 to $2,500. Linebacker Jordan Whiting was suspended for one game and must pay $150.
When the suspensions were announced, ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, a former OSU quarterback, called the expected departures of Pryor, Posey, Herron and Adams ''addition by subtraction'' for 2011. There has also been criticism, even from former OSU football players, about the seeming hypocrisy of suspensions that did not include the bowl game.
The violations may be considered minor in the eyes of NFL personnel execs. But if the juniors announce they're leaving for the pros, it will be a public fleecing of Ohio State and the NCAA and another black eye for the program. If they've made a promise they don't plan to keep, hopefully those deciding whether they want them on their NFL rosters will consider it another character flaw as well.