Turns out that the reason behind the five Ohio State players who were busted for selling Ohio State memorabilia are not suspended of the Sugar Bowl is because the bowl's CEO Paul Hoolahan pushed hard to get the Buckeyes to play at full strength. Hoolahan was unapologetic by saying he wanted to see the best matchup and for the obvious reasons was to get good ratings.
He also wanted to preserve the Sugar Bowl's integrity:
"I made the point that anything that could be done to preserve the integrity of this year's game, we would greatly appreciate it," Hoolahan said. "That appeal did not fall on deaf ears, and I'm extremely excited about it, that the Buckeyes are coming in at full strength and with no dilution."
Integrity! Sir, you, the NCAA and Ohio State have no integrity if you think it is a good thing to allow players to play in your for-profit bowl game after clearly violating NCAA violations back on Dec. 7.
Hoolahan also went onto say that he pushed for the players to play because of lackluster television ratings in a few of the past games:
Preserving the matchup between No. 6 Ohio State and No. 8 Arkansas was very important to the Sugar Bowl, which has seen some poor games in recent years: Georgia crushing Hawaii 41-10 in 2008, Utah upsetting Alabama 31-17 in 2009 and Florida thrashing Cincinnati 51-24 last season.
The most asinine comment to come from Hoolahan as he flat out says he did this for selfish reasons:
He said he was aware of the sentiment among many Buckeyes fans that the players should not be allowed to play.
"I appreciate and fully understand the Midwestern values and ethics behind that," he said. "But I'm probably thinking of this from a selfish perspective."
Now, I get why the Sugar Bowl would want these players to play. It would decrease ratings if Ohio State's most popular, and best players, are not on display for the bowl game. The NCAA has lost all control of college football, they are wildly inconsistent since Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green was suspended immediately for four games when he sold a game used jersey. However, these players who did the exact same thing get a pass by not being suspended right away and get to play in their biggest game of the year.
Let me be clear: I understand why the Sugar CEO wanted this. What I can't understand is how the NCAA allowed it. That's what's embarrassing.
Maybe I am naive in this thinking, but how did a bowl executive who run one game a year can wield more power then the entire NCAA. This is more proof that these bowl games have been and always be glorified exhibitions.
The only saving grace from this is that Ohio State head coach may suspended the players for part of the Sugar Bowl, and then a little of bit of integrity will be restored.
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