WVUM will be broadcasting the Miami Hurricanes' home opener this Saturday against Ohio State and WVUM Sports has put together a five-part preview of the game and the story of UM-OSU. Part 1 covers the busy and scandalous off-seasons of both teams.
BY: Chris Wittyngham
Without question, the University of Miami and Ohio State University have had the most discussed off-seasons in all of college sports this past year, and now the two polarizing and highly discussed programs will do battle this Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium (90.5 WVUM at 7 PM). Part 1 of our preview of the game will discuss the busy and scandalous off-seasons the two programs had.
After an 11-1 season and a birth in the Sugar Bowl, an internal investigation by Ohio State revealed that 6 Ohio State players were involved with Tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife, who was under federal investigation by the US Attorney’s office. The players gave the parlor owner Big Ten championship rings and other memorabilia displayed in the parlor in exchange for free tattoos. The parlor was later shut down.
The players, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Daniel Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams, defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, and defensive back Jordan Whiting all received suspensions to be served beginning the following season. All of the players involved received five game suspensions with the exception of Whiting, who received only a one game suspension.
On January 13th, 2011 the Ohio State office of legal affairs found an email exchange with Columbus attorney Christopher T. Cicero dated back to April of 2010. The emails from Cicero warned OSU head coach Jim Tressel of the involvement of the players with Edward Rife. Because the NCAA learned that Tressel did not report the problem to his compliance department and attempted to cover it up, Tressel suspended to 2 games. He later added 3 more games and made it a 5 game suspension, but later was forced to resign as head coach of the football program. Tressel has been replaced on an interim basis by Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell.
Fickell acquired a team left damaged by the suspensions and later lost his quarterback Pryor, who instead of serving his five-game suspension decided to go to the NFL and was drafted in the third round of the NFL Supplemental Draft by the Oakland Raiders. After a quarterback competition, Fickell decided on a combination of former professional baseball player Joe Bauserman and true freshman Braxton Miller.
Miami also had more than it’s fair share of personnel turnover and NCAA controversy. It began with the firing of head coach Randy Shannon prior to the Hyundai Sun Bowl this past year. After an extensive coaching search with names like Jon Gruden being tossed around, UM decided on former Temple coach Al Golden. Golden immediately excited the fan base and looked to bring back the style of football “The U” has been known for since their first national title in 1983.
After a positive spring practice, all signs pointed towards a new-look hurricanes coming in the fall beginning with a national spotlight game on the night of Labor Day against Maryland. However, a bombshell was dropped on August 16th, 2011 with a damaging and scandalous story done by Yahoo! Sports about former UM booster and convicted ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro. In the story done by Charles Robinson, Yahoo! detailed Shapiro’s years of improper benefits given to Miami Hurricanes players and coaches from 2002 through 2010. The article alleges Shapiro provided prostitutes, cash payments, bounties, jewelry, clothing, travel, televisions, rims, house and yacht privileges, nights out at strip clubs, meals, entertainment, lodging, apartments, and various other illegal benefits to Miami Hurricanes players.
After an investigation done by UM and the NCAA, 8 current players (Jacory Harris, Travis Benjamin, Olivier Vernon, Adewale Ojomo, Marcus Forston, Dyron Dye, Sean Spence, and Ray-Ray Armstrong) were suspended for at least one game. Dye and Armstrong were suspended for four games and Vernon was suspended for six. A verdict of the overall fate of the program is still to come.
No two teams in college sports have had busier or more scandalous off-seasons than these two programs, and they will play each other this Saturday at 7:30 PM. You can listen to the game on WVUM with game broadcasters Chris Wittyngham, Mike Weisman, and Kyle Sielaff on 90.5 FM in Miami-Dade or online at http://wvum.org/index.php/wvum/stream/ with coverage beginning at 7 PM.
Tomorrow in Part 2 of our preview: Kyle Sielaff will cover the quarterback situations for both UM and Ohio State.