July 14, 2011

Ohio State out of touch with reality

Here is this week's "Three And Out," a weekly feature that will provide a quick but opinionated take from Tom Dienhart on three hot topics.

1. Get serious, Buckeyes. The latest absurdity from Ohio State: School officials think stripping the school of its 2010 Big Ten title and all 12 victories from the season - along with two years' probation with no scholarship limitations - is punishment enough for NCAA violations that found players receiving extra benefits and then-coach Jim Tressel lying about it. "All I know is that this is significant," A.D. Gene Smith said. "A lot of people may not view it that way externally, but this is significant. When you think about all the other athletes who participated in those games, those records will be gone. ... Might the NCAA do more? I just can't speculate on that." Go ahead and laugh. I did. Or maybe you want to cry, as Ohio State's disconnect from reality is disturbing. When the school meets with the NCAA on Aug. 12 to receive its punishment, it can count on a heavy hammer of justice that will go well beyond the self-imposed lashing with a velvet rope that Ohio State has administered. The perception across the nation is college football is out of control, with myriad schools running afoul of the NCAA. One of the NCAA's biggest deterrents is harsh penalties for rules-breakers, such as Ohio State.

2. Leach pulls out his pen. Mike Leach's book, "Swing Your Sword," will be released July 19. It promises to be a salacious read for football fans. An excerpt reveals that Leach wishes he had cut wide receiver Adam James, the son of ESPN analyst Craig James. Adam James' claims about how Leach treated him contributed to Leach's firing. Leach writes, "We thought he may have simply been the victim of his dad's little-league father tendencies and that he'd eventually find a way to be his own, independent person. But that didn't turn out to be the case. I should've cut my losses, but I was really hoping that he'd improve and stuck with him." Leach, who is working as a radio host and TV analyst, is looking to get back into coaching. He was a top target for the Maryland job last offseason. Look for Leach to be a hot commodity this coming offseason. He's a proven winner who ran a successful program for 10 seasons at Texas Tech, going 84-43 (47-33 in the Big 12) with 10 bowl bids. The sport will be better with Leach back on the sideline. I hope it happens soon.

3. The West is best. It's no secret that the balance of power in the SEC currently resides in the West Division. In fact, it's not even close. It's VHS vs. Beta. It's Facebook vs. Myspace. It's Roadrunner vs. the Coyote. That leads me to this: How many teams in the West could win the East this season? I say there are three locks: Alabama, LSU and Arkansas. And I think Auburn would have a good chance to win an SEC East that most feel will be ruled by South Carolina. The Gamecocks were trounced 56-17 in last season's SEC title game by Auburn. South Carolina - or maybe Georgia or Florida - can expect a similar fate this December regardless of who it plays in the SEC title game.

Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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