June 01, 2011
The Buckeyes defeated Arkansas 31-26, but it did so with five players who the NCAA found guilty and ultimately suspended for trading memorabilia for tattoos and other merchandise.
But those suspensions don't start until the beginning of the 2011 season, which left the Razorbacks to face the Buckeyes' best squad, including quarterback Terrell Pryor, who not only was among the suspended but also is the subject of another investigation regarding car deals and other benefits.
Pryor was named the Sugar Bowl's Most Outstanding Player after passing for 221 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for another 115 yards.
"We wanted to play their best players," Petrino told media during the SEC spring meetings at the Sandestin Beach Hilton in Florida on Tuesday. "But there's no question I don't understand how they were eligible to play in the game. I just don't know, I never will."
Petrino cited a situation he had at Louisville where players was suspended immediately and not given the pass that the Ohio State players were given.
"I had a situation where I was coaching at Louisville where we had two players stranded coming back from media day," Petrino said. "They went down, had something to eat and spent more money than they were supposed to. The rules are that you suspended them immediately, and then you have to file a waiver to appeal and get their eligibility restored.
"I think they (the NCAA) kind of changed the rules for that (Sugar) bowl game."
Obviously, Petrino's comments came just a day after Ohio State coach Jim Tressel resigned and at a time when the negativity surrounding Ohio State was at an all-time high. There's no telling whether he would have been as candid had Tressel, a man Petrino said he felt sorry for, still been the head coach or if Arkansas had actually won the game.