Ray Small has to talk to the NCAA now doesn't he?
I don't mean in the legal, compelled sort of way. The association doesn't have that kind of power. But if the former Ohio State receiver is going to tell the student paper The Lantern that he sold his gear for extra benefits and "everyone was doing it", Small needs to sing to the NCAA.
Just for the sheer theater of it, if nothing else.
Small told the paper that he sold his memorabilia for cash because he, like other athletes, was struggling financially. He had four Big Ten rings. "There was enough to go around." He said there friendly car deals. He said Ohio State athletes, "don't even think about [NCAA] rules."
Tell us something we don't know to this point, Ray. And yet, in the middle of a scandal that threatens to take down coach Jim Tressel -- along with AD Gene Smith and president Gordon Gee -- hearing it from a new, recent Buckeye source makes it more compelling.
That's why Ray Small has to talk to the NCAA. In fact, Wednesday's story has the possibility of not meaning much unless Small does speak to the NCAA. The association can't make him talk with an enforcement officer because he is a former player. The NCAA doesn't have subpoena power. But if he doesn't, Small looks, well, small.
He can rat out his teammates and shoot his mouth off to the student paper but his words lose their punch unless Small has the stones to back it up in front of the NCAA. Without his cooperation, what he has alleged can be investigated by the NCAA and certainly puts Ohio State in a more negative light, but Small can skip a bunch of steps by calling enforcement director Julie Roe Lach right now.
If what he says it's true -- and it's detailed enough to make me believe -- then we now know there is a long history of cheating at Ohio State. I can hear some of you laughing out there: "Well, duh!" True, but the NCAA needs some kind of evidence to make a case. Or in this case, make a big case a blockbuster. Why stop at just Tressel hiding emails?
The NCAA already has plenty of evidence the Tressel case. In fact, there isn't much disputing of the facts. Tressel covered up. Tressel knowingly played ineligible athletes. You can't even say that about Reggie Bush and USC. He was rogue -- one guy -- and, unless something else emerges to the contrary, Pete Carroll didn't know. Small's comments suggest a widespread culture of cheating.
Well, duh, indeed.
Even Gene Marsh, The Vest's mouthpiece, may have to admit that even with his misguided shot at "some dot-com writer somewhere."
(Dear Gene: Without those dot-com writers -- they're called legitimate media, by the way -- you would be sucking air for clients.)
Save the NCAA some work, Ray. If you're a man, the best way to use this information is to formalize it with a call to the NCAA. Here's the number if you need it: 317-917-6222.