THE OHIO State University has now had its day in court.
The Buckeyes met with the NCAA committee on infractions for some four hours Friday. It was a much-anticipated session and one that will eventually shape the future of Ohio State football.
The crux of the problem is that then-Buckeyes’ head coach Jim Tressel knowingly used illegal players during the 2010 season.
Also coming under scrutiny was the illegal benefits given to a host of OSU gridders from a tattoo-parlor owner.
The Scarlet & Gray grid scandal led to the forced resignation of Tressel back in May. The Ohio State administration also enacted self-imposed penalties prior to the NCAA hearing in hopes of leniency.
Those included vacating all 12 wins from the 2010 season, players’ suspensions and two years of NCAA probation. Prior to Friday’s meeting, OSU also agreed to return $338,811 received from the Sugar Bowl, a 31-26 nod over Arkansas.
Now the ball is out of the Buckeyes’ court. Rather, it is in the hands of the 10-member infractions committee.
The OSU grid program has come under much fire over the course of the last several months. The controversy has negatively impacted football recruiting in the short term. The uncertainty of a full-time head coach may damage recruiting long term.
Luke Fickell is the interim head coach. And while the former OSU star defensive lineman appears capable of filling the void this year, uncertainty of a permanent head man will obviously chip away at the Scarlet & Gray’s football foundation.
Compounding matters is, although the NCAA hearing has come and gone, the committee’s decision may not be known for three months. That is a long time for a maligned program to twist in the wind.
The next few months will be antsy ones for the Buckeyes’ Football Nation.
The NCAA’s final dispensation in the case will not be a death sentence for Ohio State.
It will mean, however, that the Buckeyes’ athletic department as well as their compliance officials needed to keep their collective fingers on the pulse of the OSU grid program so that a similar crisis never again rears its ugly head.