During a sometimes rambling 13-minute interview on the Dan Patrick Radio Show on Wednesday morning, Maurice Clarett insisted there is no organized system of providing extra benefits to Ohio State football players. While admitting athletes receive things from people in the community, he ascribed blame to the individuals rather than the program.
“There’s no secret regime, no secret congregation of people who sit around at Ohio State and give young guys money, who say, ‘Let me give you X amount of dollars or thousands of dollars,’ nothing like that,” Clarett told Patrick on his nationally syndicated show. “Anything that any players goes and gets is all based on him and who he meets in the community. When he goes out and meets a fan or he meets somebody, he’s going to meet that person himself and create a relationship himself and do what he does. A coach has no control over what the young guys are doing, know what I’m saying?”
Clarett, who helped lead Ohio State to the 2002 national championship as a star freshman tailback but eventually left school amid charges of accepting illegal benefits and misleading NCAA investigators, also expressed his opinion on the fate of Tressel, who resigned under pressure May 30. The coach admitted in March to violating his contract by withholding information of potential NCAA violations from his superiors and collegiate athletics’ governing body.
“People respect Jim Tressel because he’s a man,” Clarett said. “He’s a man’s man, you know what I mean? The guy has integrity. He has class. I look at Jim Tressel every day and just Google his name and see articles come up with reputable people sticking their necks out for him. He’s a good man who got caught up in a bad situation. You can’t be a fraud for 30 years. It’s impossible, you know what I’m saying? People could smell a fraud within the first few months. You’re going to be exposed. But for 30 years that man has been respected by the people who are very respectable throughout the country. It’s not right for that man to get done like that.”
As far as the program currently dealing with accusations players received deals on cars, tattoos and more, Clarett said that stems from what he perceives as a cultural problem.
“A lot of guys come from nothing,” he said. “When Coach Tressel goes out to recruit these guys from inner cities, people don’t realize their family is depending on you and your athletic ability. That’s the only way you can make it out because when they wake up every day, every day in their lives they don’t see anybody who’s going to college or graduating and had success on a scholastic level, so they don’t believe in it.”
That seed of a problem is then exacerbated by the gap between the money provided via scholarship and the actual cost of attending school and living in Columbus.
“People only believe in what they see, so when they come to college and they’re used to having nothing then trying to live on $1,100 in Columbus, Ohio,” Clarett said. “If you want to stay in a reputable place you’re going to pay $750 for rent, then you’re going to pay $4 gallon for gas, that’s another $100-150 per month. If you have a girlfriend and want to live a normal life, $1,100 is not enough, but in Columbus, Ohio, you’re treated like a celebrity, so it’s not a Terrelle Pryor problem. It’s not a Jim Tressel problem. It’s just a culture not of inner city youth but a culture of the whole system.”
Pryor, who announced Tuesday he will not return for his senior year, was one of five players suspended for the start of the upcoming season after it was learned they traded team memorabilia and athletic gear for cash and discounted tattoos.
To watch the video, click here.