Thursday, May 26, 2011

OSU's Neverending Story: Ray Small drops a dime

It seems every week there's some new dirt burying the Ohio State football program. The latest verbal soiling came Wednesday when former wide receiver Ray Small said the memorabilia sales and car discounts now alleged against a handful of players were a widespread issue when he was playing.

Ray Small small won't be getting an X-mas cards from Buckeye nation.

Small, who played with the team from 2006-2009, told OSU's student-run newspaper The Lantern  that he sold Big Ten championship rings while other players received discounts from car dealerships. Small further suggested that many more of his teammates flouted NCAA rules than just the six suspended for selling or trading memorabilia in 2009.

"They have a lot (of dirt) on everybody," Small told The Lantern, "because everybody was doing it."

Sweating Buckeyes' fans have to be going to the "consider the source" card on this one. Small was supposed to be a game-breaking speedster in the mold of fellow Glenville High School graduate Ted Ginn, Jr., but academic problems compounded by team rules violations made him a non-factor during his Ohio State career. The logic goes that the kid's got an axe over a whetstone and he's aiming that sharpened edge at Coach Jim Tressel's already precariously positioned neck.

Meanwhile, current and former Buckeyes angry at Small for breaking ranks have damned him as a coward, snitch and liar. Center Mike Brewster tweeted how his ex-teammate was "never on time, never accountable, never sacrificed for the team," so how can anyone trust Small's word now?

Perhaps, but every new bit of info that comes out puts another crack in the program's facade. Small claiming "everyone" was involved in scandalous behavior is of course exaggeration and could be deemed as the bile of a bitter ex-player blaming his coach for a disappointing career. Still, the line between truth and fiction at Ohio State became blurred when Tressel's own lies were made public. This story has become a deep, dark pit and Buckeyes' alumni are rightly scared to discover what manner of beast hungrily waits at the bottom.

Call Small a snitch if you must, but that does not necessarily make him an out-and-out liar. As we wait for hard facts, there are just too many unknowns to sift through, and who knows how many more stories like Small's will come to light before August when Tressel pleads his case to the NCAA's Committee on Infractions.

Whatever transpires, it seems all roads lead to this story not ending well for Ohio State football or its fans. I hope I'm wrong.