|Bri’onte Dunn (#25 with ball)|
Assuming Bri’onte Dunn is waiting to see what the sanctions are prior to decommitting from OSU, how lenient will the penalty have to be to keep Dunn in the fold at OSU?
Bri’onte Dunn, the heralded running back from Glenoak High School in Canton, OH, has given every indication that his commitment to Ohio State depends upon how badly the NCAA punishes the Buckeyes for their transgressions. He and his family maintain that he’s committed to the program, but I think that’s generally because he’s leery of seeming wishy-washy, drawing the ire of Ohio State fans, etc. After all, if he commits to another school right now and then the NCAA only gives OSU a slap on the wrist, he’ll not only anger people by decommitting in the first place, but he’ll infuriate another fan base who hope to see him wearing their jersey. For now he’s playing it safe, and I think that’s the smart thing to do.
Dunn’s father has suggested that a multi-year bowl ban will weigh heaviest on the decision. If the Buckeyes are prohibited from participating in the postseason for three years, that could be Dunn’s whole college career. Who wants to go play football where you might not ever play during bowl season? Even though Dunn has the size and talent to make it to the NFL, some guys’ best accomplishments and legacies are built in bowl game performances. When I think of Tai Streets, I think about his 4 receptions, 127 yards, and 2 touchdowns against Washington State in the Rose Bowl. When I think of Adrian Arrington, I think about his 9 receptions, 153 yards, and 2 touchdowns against Florida in the Capital One Bowl. Streets went on to a nondescript NFL career, and Arrington has seven career catches for the New Orleans Saints.
Recent rumors on message boards and from “insiders” have suggested that Dunn’s more and more likely to stick with his Ohio State commitment, but I think that’s partly because the NCAA investigation keeps getting elongated due to the new information popping up here and there. The longer it takes for the NCAA to punish Ohio State, the better chance Dunn has of sticking. And despite some obvious shenanigans regarding Terrelle Pryor’s use of loaner cars, no wrongdoing has been found yet.
Pryor, the other accused players, and the university are still on the hook for the selling of merchandise, the free tattoos, and the alleged selling of autographs; Jim Tressel is still on the hook for lying and playing dumb. There’s a chance that the NCAA will say, “Well, Pryor left the school, and Tressel resigned, so here’s a stern look and wagging of the finger and don’t do it again.”
I think it’s more likely, though, that Ohio State gets a couple years of holidays off and the loss of a few dozen scholarships over the next few years. USC got two years of bowl bans and 30 scholarship losses, but USC’s issues mainly involved one player (Reggie Bush) and an assistant coach. Ohio State’s issues probably involve less money, but they were pervasive and involved the most visible employee of the university. And by “employee” I mean Tressel, but I guess Pryor counts, too.
To answer your question more concisely, I think two years of bowl bans keep Dunn in Columbus. Three years sends him elsewhere. That doesn’t mean Dunn would necessarily come to Michigan, because he’s also been looking at Penn State. But if I had to guess, I would say Michigan is #2 on his list if Ohio State’s program does indeed get blasted by the NCAA.
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