December 7, 2004

Clarett "In Touch"

Well, you can't say the guy doesn't have balls the size of grapefruits. After Maurice Clarett and his willing accomplices at ESPN The Magazine splashed a fairly hollow story of improprieties at Ohio State across the pages of the magazine, making good on Clarett's vow to "get" the Buckeye program, he has apparently been trying to weasel his way back into the university's good graces. Talk about your uphill battle. From a report in today's Canton Repository (free registration required):

Word is that Clarett recently tried to patch things up with Ohio State. He supposedly called Geiger to say he was willing to apologize and admit he fabricated most of what he told ESPN The Magazine. In turn he wanted OSU officials to issue public statements of support in order to help his reputation for April's NFL Draft.

I do so hope that Geiger has a tape recording of that phone call for the NCAA investigators to hear. The purported reason for going to ESPN with his exposé in the first place was to buff up his image for the NFL General Managers. If he could convince them that he was but another pampered yet exploited star athlete at the big, bad football factory at Ohio State, then maybe they would see that he wasn't really a trouble-maker after all.

You see, he was just a victim, who had lied last year during the NCAA investigation into improper academic practices at the school, when he denied any improper behavior by Tressel, but says now that he had done so at the time only to protect Tressel and the program. You know, a good soldier.

Now, he is prepared to admit that he lied to ESPN this fall when he said he lied in 2003 to NCAA investigators about the absence of program improprieties. But he's only willing to admit these various lies if the OSU Athletic Department is willing to tell NFL people the lie that Maurice Clarett is something other than a liar. Hard to believe A.D. Andy Geiger didn't jump all over that deal.

Clarett continues to suffer from LeBron-wannabeitis. Most draft pundits say he's a Day 2 selection, (although I maintain he'll go no lower than the 3rd round). He has squandered what would surely have been a million dollar signing bonus, not to mention what might well have been a second National Championship at OSU in 2003. He's in full panic mode. He must sense that the ESPN article and their follow-up didn't get much traction (although it did get the NCAA back on campus) so he's back spinning once again.

(The full text of the Canton Repository article is at the link below for your convenience)

OSU, Clarett have been in touch

By TODD PORTER Repository sports writer

Even as Ohio State begins to prepare for the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29, there is a sense among some close Buckeye observers they are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Again.

As has been the case since he was suspended from Ohio State last season, former running back Maurice Clarett and ESPN The Magazine may not be finished with the Clarett scandal that rocked OSU a year after winning the national title.

Rumors have circulated for the last 10 days that Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel and/or Athletics Director Andy Geiger are on the hot seat and in jeopardy of losing their jobs. Geiger told The Repository on Monday there was no truth to that rumor — although he, too, has heard it.

“I just spent all day in Bricker Hall (OSU’s administrative offices) today and no one there seems to know anything about it,” Geiger said. “There is no truth to that whatsoever.”

Word is that Clarett recently tried to patch things up with Ohio State. He supposedly called Geiger to say he was willing to apologize and admit he fabricated most of what he told ESPN The Magazine. In turn he wanted OSU officials to issue public statements of support in order to help his reputation for April’s NFL Draft.

Ohio State supposedly declined the offer.

Geiger did not deny that such a scenario took place.

“There is always communication,” Geiger said when asked if he received a call from Clarett to patch up the relationship. “Beyond that, I cannot elaborate.”

If Clarett would rescind what he told ESPN The Magazine, it could lend credence to Ohio State’s assertion that the publication sought to tarnish the Buckeye football program.

Following Sunday’s Browns-Patriots game, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown spoke to the media in Cleveland’s locker room. Brown was an adviser to Clarett during the NCAA investigation, but seems to have distanced himself from the Warren Harding graduate.

Asked what he made of Clarett’s recent comments about Ohio State, Brown shrugged his shoulders. Clarett told ESPN The Magazine that Tressel set him up with boosters who made sure he had money in his pocket and a car to drive. He also alleged tutors did class work for players.

Ohio State’s athletic department and football program were cleared of any wrongdoing in a months-long investigation by the NCAA after Clarett was suspended.

Brown saved his harshest criticism for Clarett and Geiger, and praised the job Tressel has done. Essentially, Brown said Clarett should have kept his mouth shut and not gone to ESPN The Magazine with the story.

“I think the whole thing is a tragic affair,” Brown said. “I think Geiger handled things improperly from the start. But I also think Maurice talked about things he should not have talked about. It’s a tragedy for everybody. Jim Tressel is a good man. He’s been my friend for a long time. I hope nothing happens to damage his reputation, and I hope Maurice can play in the NFL.”

Asked if he thought Tressel would break NCAA rules for Clarett, Brown did not address the question.

“I don’t get into that,” said Brown, who has publicly criticized the NCAA in the past. “I don’t know what the NCAA rules are anyway. I think their rules are ridiculous, so I can’t get into that.”

You can reach Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail:

todd.porter@cantonrep.com

Posted by dan at December 7, 2004 8:43 PM