OSU is better off without Clarett curse

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 28, 2003

No matter what the outcome of the 2003 season is for the Ohio State Buckeyes, the ghost of Maurice Clarett will haunt the team all year.

For the past few months, everywhere you look, you see or hear his name --

always in a negative tone. Let's review (like we really need to): The NCAA is looking into exaggerated claims after his car, a 2001 Chevrolet Monte Carlo "borrowed" from a used-car dealership, was broken into in April. Clarett claimed he lost more than $10,000 in the theft, including $800 in cash, 300 CDs, clothing and stereo equipment. He later said that he had inflated the values on the police report.

Email newsletter signup

First, Clarett should know better than to claim that he ever had that kind of money and merchandise in his possession. Suspicious minds want to know, and now he is finding out the hard way.

Earlier, we found out he blew off midterms and took oral exams, another red flag in the collegiate sports world. Claims that star athletes receive preferential treatment are made all the time.

The bottom line is, an athlete of Maurice Clarett's caliber must mind his Ps and Qs. He must remain squeaky clean. He must have high standards.

When he was healthy, Clarett was one of the best backs in the nation last year, even as a freshman. Had it not been for his suspension this year, he could have been the first sophomore to ever win the Heisman. He has the rare blend of size (6-0, 230), speed (he runs a 4.5 40-yard dash) and power that all recruiters look for in a running back.

Clarett's problem is he tries to act like a professional athlete when he is, in fact, just a kid. Sure, his buddy LeBron James is an exception to this rule, but until Maurice meets the requirements and declares himself eligible for the NFL draft, he is a student-athlete. No matter how good he may be, he must follow the rules. Period.

Maybe it is not his fault, but a cloud of controversy seems to follow this kid everywhere he goes. Every time he opens his mouth, the wrong words seem to come out -- both publically and, apparently, privately.

Is he really worth all this trouble? I'm beginning to think he is not.

In my eyes, he is not even the most valuable player on Ohio State's football team. Chris Gamble is.

Think about it, you lose Clarett, you have two able-bodied backs -- Lydell Ross and Maurice Hall --

to take his place. Take Gamble out of the picture, you have to replace a play-making receiver and a solid defensive back.

I believe the Buckeyes could suspend Clarett for the entire season and not miss him too much. Ross and Hall, together, make a fine running back tandem that many schools in the NCAA would love to have. Plus, they don't have all the baggage that Clarett has.

I like Maurice Clarett -- as a football player. However, when one individual has as much of a negative impact

he has had on his football team, it is time to move on.

Let's face it, when it is all said and done -- even if Maurice Clarett does not play a down this season -- he will get the credit for the success or demise of the Ohio State football team. If they lose, it will be because they didn't have him. If they win without him, it will be because they were inspired to show the naysayers wrong. If he comes back and they have success, Maurice was the savior.

Ohio State is Top 10 caliber with or without Maurice Clarett. The only question is will they be a Top 10 team or a Top 10 group of individuals, one of which hogs the spotlight?

Shawn Doyle is managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445 ext. 19 or by e-mail to shawn.doyle@irontontribune.com.