The NCAA may have revoked Georgia Tech's 2009 ACC title, but that doesn't mean the players are OK with the decision or are going to be quick to give back their rings.
In fact, Sean Bedford, an all-conference center on that 2009 team, wrote an open letter to the NCAA stating that the organization would have to "pry it from my cold, dead finger."
Bedford was dismayed that he was being punished for the NCAA's findings that Georgia Tech intentionally misled investigators into an inquiry regarding $312 worth of clothes given to former receiver Demaryius Thomas.
Here's Bedford's letter, which was posted on his Facebook page:
Thank you for handing down penalties that only adversely affect the players who did things the right way. This reeks of an organization desperate to prove that it has some sort of control over its member institutions despite lacking the ability and firepower to police the serious offenders and protect the student-athletes whose interests you purport to have at heart.
While I realize that all violations merit some kind of punishment, I have a hard time grasping the notion that one of the proudest moments in my life (and the lives of every other individual that was a part of the team and program in 2009) is apparently worth $312 in your eyes. If that truly is the case, I'd be happy to provide you with that same amount of money (cash or check, your choice) in exchange for the reinstatement of the title my teammates and I earned through our blood, sweat and tears.
It took months of hard work, dedication and personal sacrifice by a team of over 100 players, 10 coaches and countless staff members to achieve that championship, but, evidently, it only takes the handful of pencil pushers, lawyers and professors on your infractions committee to strip us of it.
I was a part of the 2009 ACC Championship team and, while you can pretend retroactively that it didn't happen, I have vivid memories of an incredible season that was, and continues to be, one of the most fun, meaningful, important, and very real times in my 23 years on this planet. I'll be wearing my championship ring with pride and if you want that too, you'll have to pry it from my cold, dead finger.
Bedofrd told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he hoped his rant wouldn't come back to haunt Tech, but he also said that several fans, former GT players and players from other teams have shown their support for his words.
If the NCAA follows precedent set by vacating Ohio State's 2010 Big Ten championship, the school will need to return the trophy, but players will be allowed to keep their rings.
Much has been made about whether vacating wins is a worthwhile punishment and I think in some cases it's more effective than others. Obviously, Georgia Tech was not as notorious of an offender as Ohio State, which is why the vacation of their ACC title is a little harsher than Ohio State's. And that's why the outcry has been so boisterous, passionate and, ultimately, warranted.
- Georgia Tech