Is the Ohio State program next?
We'll soon find out if Friday's NCAA ruling on Posey foreshadows what will come from the infractions committee when it renders a more important decision on Ohio State, but Buckeye Nation can't be feeling too comfortable.
Posey, whose five-game suspension for his role in Tattoo-Gate was set to expire Saturday at Nebraska, received an additional five-game ban for accepting approximately $720 from ex-Ohio State booster Bobby DiGeronimo for work he didn't perform and approximately $100 in golf fees from Ohio State fan and freelance photographer Dennis Talbott. Attorney Larry James told the Cleveland Plain Dealer the NCAA ignored documentation that showed Posey worked proper hours, but said the NCAA had made up its mind.
Three other players -- running back Dan Herron, defensive end Melvin Fellows and offensive lineman Marcus Hall -- received one-game suspensions for receiving money from DiGeronimo for work not performed.
The good news is Herron, Ohio State's most experienced running back, and Hall, who has started at guard, will return next week against Illinois. Fellows is taking a medical hardship for the season and will serve his suspension next year.
Posey's additional suspension means Ohio State will be without its only proven receiver until a Nov. 18 matchup against Penn State. Although Corey "Philly" Brown is getting healthy and had some amusing tweets Friday about Nebraska topography, the Buckeyes really need help at receiver to assist freshman quarterback Braxton Miller.
Ohio State coach Luke Fickell said this week that Posey and Herron won't be dismissed from the team despite multiple NCAA violations.
"I am extremely disappointed with the NCAA's decision regarding DeVier Posey," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in a prepared statement. "This penalty is harsh considering the nature of the violation and the five game suspension already served by this student athlete."
The penalty says the NCAA isn't taking a series of violations lightly, and Posey had three separate issues on his record (tattoos, work for DiGeronimo, golf with Talbott). He received significantly more money than the others, and the NCAA ruled in all the cases involving DiGeronimo, the overpayments "occurred over an extended period of time."
Smith is trying to convince the NCAA that these are isolated incidents and not indicative of a systematic problem with Ohio State. He might be successful in this endeavor, and the fact Ohio State has self-reported all the violations and cooperated with the NCAA during its investigations helps the school's cause. Smith reiterated Monday that he's confident the infractions committee won't hit Ohio State with serious charges of failure to monitor or lack of institutional control.
Is Smith still confident after Friday's ruling?
The NCAA could view the Ohio State case a a chance to make a strong statement about violations. The Posey decision suggests as much. We should find out sometime in November.
The infractions committee is now on the clock ...