Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Petrino needs to pick a lane with Ohio St.
By Adam Rittenberg
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino has every right to question why Terrelle Pryor and four other Ohio State players were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl.
The deferred punishment reeked of hypocrisy. Pryor and the others had violated NCAA rules for selling memorabilia items, rendering them ineligible. But an NCAA loophole allowed them to take the field in New Orleans.
"There’s no question that I don't understand how they were eligible to play in the game," Petrino told reporters Tuesday at the SEC spring meetings. "I just don't, and I never will. ... They [the NCAA] kind of changed the rules for that bowl game."
Petrino is right, and he's certainly not alone in this opinion.
But in practically the same breath, Petrino repeated the line he said leading up to the Sugar Bowl.
"We wanted to play their best players," he said. "When you have a year like we had and you're able to win six games down the stretch and get to a BCS bowl game you want to play their best players. That's what you want to do."
Sorry, coach, you can't have it both ways. You can't change lanes.
If you wanted to play Ohio State's best, you got it. And you lost. Deal with it.
Had Arkansas played an Ohio State team without its starting quarterback, its starting running back, its starting left tackle, a starting receiver and a defensive lineman (Solomon Thomas) who happened to make the deciding play in the Sugar Bowl, it would hardly qualify as facing the Buckeyes at their best. Not even close.
And fair or unfair, Arkansas victory against a depleted Ohio State team would have been branded with a qualifier because of the suspended players.
Again, Petrino has a legitimate gripe about why the Tat-5 were allowed to play. And if that's his argument, stick to it.
But if he truly wanted to see Ohio State's best product in New Orleans, he got what he wanted.