December 22, 2010
The Internet being what it is, you get a lot of rumors in this business, the vast majority of which can be filed away as unsubstantiated at best, and ludicrous at worst until further notice. Idle chatter along the lines of "Ohio State is investigating players for allegedly exchanging autographs for free tattoos," two weeks before the Buckeyes' Sugar Bowl date with Arkansas, qualifies for both files.
But sometimes, the truth is stranger than fiction, and this is one of those times. Per the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio State is, in fact, investigating players for allegedly exchanging autographs for free tattoos:
Ohio State is investigating possible NCAA violations involving several football players receiving tattoos in exchange for autographs, multiple sources have told the Dispatch.
Sources indicate that some sort of discipline is likely to be handed down, but it is unclear when, or to what extent. It is possible that some players may not be available for the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4, but it's also possible that any discipline could get pushed back to the start of the 2011 regular season.
Let's get the caveats out of the way: The investigation seems to be initiated by Ohio State, and is unlikely to produce additional sanctions on the program if it metes out discipline accordingly to the alleged offenders and dots the proverbial I's on the paperwork it sends to the NCAA. And since he's pictured here (for obvious reasons) as the poster boy for elaborate Buckeye tattoos, it should also be noted that star quarterback Terrelle Pryor hasn't been singled out for investigation or suspension, or specifically linked to the probe in any way by any reputable source. At this point, no individual players have. (Some less reputable sources, of course, which have implicated Pryor and half a dozen other starters, aren't showing quite the same restraint.) Innocent until proven guilty, etc.
At any rate, though, the current crop of Buckeyes collectively have enough ink on their bodies to print the Columbus Dispatch for the rest of the year, and may have had the work done in the same local shop. No word on the existence of tramp stamps, lip scripts, armpit murals or the elusive self-referential back tat. But rest assured, a small army of very interested bloggers is now on the case.
[UPDATE, 10:21 p.m. ET] Here's the word, straight from the horse's Twitter feed:
If you can't believe TPeezy, who can you believe?
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.