On a recent trip to Miami, I was chatting with quarterback Jacory Harris as we walked into the football building. I asked him if he had been paying attention to the news coming out of Ohio State.
He shook his head no, but then added that he wished all of the Buckeyes would be on the field for that game. If Miami is going to win, the Canes would rather do it against a high-profile team that is full strength.
That won't be the case on Sept. 17.
It was one thing to hear that five Ohio State players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, would be suspended for the Miami game. It was another to learn that Ohio State coach Jim Tressel will miss the game, too.
Just how much of a factor will those absences be when Miami hosts Ohio State on Sept. 17?
It depends on the Buckeyes and how much of a distraction they allow it to become. If ever there were a good time for Miami to turn the tables on Ohio State, this would obviously be it.
If there is a lesson to be learned about how situations like this can bring a team even closer, it's in Chapel Hill. From the time the Tar Heels took the field against LSU in the season opener last year, until the bowl game was over against Tennessee, they never used the NCAA investigation as an excuse. Instead, they used it as motivation. UNC's roster was depleted by about three times the amount of Ohio State's suspensions, and yet the Tar Heels pulled together for another eight-win season. Granted, it could have been more, but it also could have been much more disastrous.
As colleague Ivan Maisel points out, it's not as if Tressel won't be involved in the preparation for Miami. He's not going to be coaching the scout team that week. Still, missing the head coach on Saturday will have an effect on the team. It's up to the Buckeyes to determine how.
Those within Ohio State's program have lost some respect because of this public relations nightmare, but that doesn't mean they've lost sight of their goals. North Carolina was able to prove last year that just because a certain perception is lost, it doesn't mean the season has to be, too.