Ray Small, an infamous name to Ohio State fans, sat in a chair being recorded on a cell-phone video and apologized repeatedly to everyone, especially those involved with Buckeyes football.
It's hard to imagine Ohio State fans will just forgive and forget Small being a big part of a scandal that led to Jim Tressel resigning and a bowl ban for the Buckeyes in 2012, but the video obviously showed Small is regretful for what he has done.
Small, a Buckeyes receiver from 2006-09, admitted in 2011 to The Lantern student newspaper that he sold memorabilia including Big Ten championship rings, and identified a car dealership as giving Buckeyes players special deals. That story intensified a growing scandal in which other players had been suspended for selling memorabilia to a local tattoo parlor. Tressel would resign a week later. As a result of NCAA sanctions from that scandal, a 12-0 Ohio State team was ineligible to play for a conference title or in a bowl game last season.
And Small is sorry for all of it.
In a rambling two-part video posted to YouTube (h/t to Eleven Warriors for pointing it out), Small sits in an office chair and continually apologizes. At one point he apologizes to his peers, his elders and young people, which should cover everyone. He talks about his upbringing, saying his father sold drugs, his mother worked three jobs and he was raised by his sister so he had no discipline in his life, and how he didn't understand how to conduct himself as a college athlete. In 2012, Small was arrested and charged with drug possession, accused of having more than 200 oxycodone pills.
He repeatedly directs his message to kids, saying he wants them to learn from his mistakes.
"This is coming from the heart, honestly," Small said. "I’m just really appreciative and blessed the fact that I can catch on to this situation in my life, because it’s not going too well. The decisions that I made – I've never been a good decision maker, I haven’t, and I probably have a couple people that can vouch for that – and with that said, I want to give out my condolences and my heart to a lot of people, like my former teammates. My former teammates were like the world to me, and I treated them like nothing. To Buckeye Nation, I sorely apologize to the Buckeye Nation, because I’m a Buckeye for life, regardless of how people like it. I kind of got 'X’ed out from being a Buckeye, and that kind of hurt my heart."
Small also apologized to Tressel and then-Ohio State receivers coach Darrell Hazell, who is now the head coach at Purdue.
"I am truly sorry for my actions," Small said. "My life did a complete 360 on me, and I just want to talk to Coach Hazell. That was like my favorite guy because he always kept it strictly real with me. I want to apologize to Coach Tressel because he told me, he tried, he gave me many chances and many chances. I’m here today to speak up on my behalf and say I’m a man and I understand the things I have done wrong."
Small, who said in the video that he has three kids of his own, said his trial on the drug possession charge will be in July. He said he is writing a book, which could be fascinating. The story he tells over about 19 minutes in the videos is of a young man from a troubled background, who failed the seventh grade because he barely went to school, but overcame it to get a scholarship to Ohio State. Then he didn't handle that opportunity well, burned bridges at Ohio State, got arrested and seems to realize that he needs to turn his life around, saying, "I was the guy that didn’t get it." He repeatedly talks about hoping kids learn from his mistakes, and perhaps he can have a future speaking to youth groups.
Although it's hard to imagine Buckeyes fans embracing him again, he says in the video it isn't too late for him to change his direction in life.
"At the end of the day it’s about what do you do, and what have you learned," Small said. "You can’t keep doing the same things over and over, speaking as far as mistakes. You can’t keep having mistakes over and over. That’s what I lacked in life."