LITTLE ROCK (ArkansasSports360.com) - Ohio State is facing significant punishment from the NCAA for the use of ineligible players last season. Five Buckeyes that were guilty of taking improper benefits will be suspended for five games in 2011, but played in January's Sugar Bowl.
Don't expect OSU to have to vacate its 31-26 victory against Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, however. Even though it's been reported [with additional detail today] that Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel knew of the infractions long before his own compliance department or the NCAA.
Here's more from the Columbus Dispatch, which obtained the NCAA's "notice of allegations" against the Buckeyes:
The best-case scenario for Ohio State is the NCAA accepting the university's self-imposed sanctions on Tressel, which include a $250,000 fine and five-game suspension. The worst-case scenario is a range of sanctions that could prevent the Buckeyes from playing in the Big Ten Championship and a bowl game next season and strip OSU of last year's victories and Big Ten title.
Ironically, Ohio State's Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas in January would stand because the NCAA had restored the eligibility of quarterback Terrelle Pryor and five others who sold memorabilia.
Nothing about the NCAA's decision made sense at the time. It makes less sense now if that's even possible.
Arkansas players and coaches said all the right things entering the Sugar Bowl. They didn't want Ohio State to be short-handed, hoping to get the Buckeyes' best shot.
It certainly seemed like an admirable position at the time.
There's another tie to the Razorbacks in today's report from the Columbus Dispatch, that puts the program is less favorable light. Arkansas is one of four schools since 2004 penalized as a repeat offender guilty of using ineligible athletes.
Since 2004, four universities that are part of the Football Bowl Championship division were penalized by the NCAA for allowing ineligible players to participate in games and for being repeat offenders.
Alabama (football), South Alabama (men's tennis), Arkansas (track) and Southern California (football) each had to vacate all victories in which the ineligible athletes competed. All were placed on probation, but only Southern California was banned from post-season competition.