Desmond Howard doesn't pull any punches as a college football analyst for ESPN, so why would the former Michigan Heisman Trophy winner soften his opinions when asked about rival Ohio State?
In a Q&A with the Omaha World Herald, Howard gave his thoughts on players selling memorabilia, Reggie Bush and of course, former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel.
"If Woody Hayes was around now, I'm thinking he would grab Jim Tressel by the collar and punch him in the throat," Howard said in reference to Tressel's indiscretions that ultimately led to him resigning from Ohio State.
While Howard didn't agree with Tressel covering up his players misdeeds, he did support athletes selling their stuff and said he didn't think it was as big of a deal as the NCAA was making it out to be.
Do I think any other student-athlete has sold something for some money? Yeah. Yeah. Is that a big crime? Not at all. It's not even relevant. In the (grand) scheme of things, it's only a cover-up because some guys sat in a room one day and decided, 'OK, this is going to be illegal.' Other than that, everybody else on campus can sell whatever they own. But because they're players, they can't sell anything they own. It's almost like they say, 'OK, you own that merchandise, but in essence we own you, so you can't do it.'
What people fail to realize is that the cover-up is what made it so heinous. Coach Tressel — it baffles me — he actually used a university email address that's in the university's system to try to cover up what his players had done. Now I don't think that's going on anywhere else in the country.
Howard, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1991, also defended former USC running back Reggie Bush, who was stripped of his Heisman after the NCAA found he had received improper benefits. Bush offered to give the trophy back to the Heisman Trophy Trust last September, but to this day, the Trophy has yet to make its way back to New York.
Howard said Bush should have never offered to give the trophy back in the first place.
I think some of the rules are in place to maintain the system of exploitation. So I didn't agree with the rule. I didn't think it should've been a major issue. Now, obviously, it is a rule. He broke the rule. I just don't think it had anything to do with his performance on the field.
If you told me he was taking some sort of (performance-enhancing drug), then that has a direct effect on the player's performance on the field. That makes sense to me. If it's about where his parents may have stayed, the NCAA doesn't give two cares where Reggie Bush's parents stayed if they staying were under a bridge in a cardboard box.
As long as that little boy was out there on Saturday scoring them touchdowns, everything was good. But if they stay in a nice home, it needs to be investigated. Now they need what's going on. It has nothing to do with the guy's athletic ability. It has more to do with them controlling the whole system and maintaining what they instituted when they first founded this whole model."
I thought he should've never given it back. I didn't think it should've been an issue. But that's definitely because I don't agree with all of the rules. I do agree with some of the rules, but I just don't agree with all of the rules.