Friday, December 15, 2006

Buckeyes leaving for the NFL?

This story hit the news today, and it is sending a bit of a scare through Buckeye fans tonight.....

Ginn, Gonzalez, Pittman, Barton could leave early

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Four of Ohio State's top offensive players are considering leaving school early to enter the NFL draft.

Junior wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez, tailback Antonio Pittman and lineman Kirk Barton filed paperwork with the NFL on Friday.

"We're just awaiting some information so that we can make good decisions," said coach Jim Tressel, whose No. 1 Buckeyes play No. 2 Florida for the national title Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz.

An NFL advisory committee estimates where, or if, a player might be taken in the draft. A player can then elect to remain in college or make himself available for the draft.

In my honest opinion, this is no big deal. Players do this all the time, and it's not big's merely an exploratory thing. We'll know more in a couple of months, but this story is purely semantics. Players want to know where they'll stand, and this will provide them with insight.

I expect Ginn to leave for the NFL. After the Notre Dame game last year, Ginn was asked if he was going to follow Holmes into the NFL and he was quoted as saying he'd like to come back "for one more year". That gave me the distinct impression that he would leave after his junior year, and I still believe that.

I'm not sure about Barton. Good linemen are at a premium in The Show, and the lure of the NFL may be too much for him to ignore. Dear God, if the Browns don't draft Troy Smith, please make it up to us by taking a lineman of Barton's calibre.

However, I don't think Pittman and Gonzalez will leave. They've both made convincing statements that lead me to believe they'll stay Buckeyes through their senior years, and they'll stay true to their word.

"Then why would they file papers?" is the next question. For many reasons. One of which could involve Lloyd's Of London. A player may take that NFL scouting report and purchase insurance on themselves, based on future earnings. This way, if they get hurt in college, they'll still get a little of that NFL money in the way of insurance payments. It happens. For a high-profile example, Peyton Manning insured himself for his senior season at Tennessee.

But above all, Buckeye fans...don't panic. This is not a big deal at all. Hell, it's only being reported because there were four filings all at once.

Oh, and read between the lines of the story....Tressel ASKED his players to file the papers and see where they stand. If THAT doesn't show you how he puts his players best personal interests over the entire program, then nothing else will. And that's the type of coach I want...someone who will be a second father to our boys. That gets respect from his players, and it's heartwarming. remember when John Cooper used to bitch about players leaving early for the NFL?

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