It’s never good when a college football player issues a statement explaining his apparent violation of an NCAA rule and his attorney chimes in a little later.
It’s even more unsettling when that player has recently been hailed as the best player in college football and as someone deserving of Heisman Trophy votes.
Friday morning’s announcement that Ohio State’s all-universe defensive end Chase Young will be out of action indefinitely was the first storm in what had been season of clear sailing for No. 1 Ohio State (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten).
Coaches and players always talk about playing one game at a time. But the biggest questions about Young’s absence are long term, not short term.
Not having Young and his 13.5 sacks in the lineup today against Maryland (3-6, 1-5 Big Ten) might be noticeable, especially with the other starting defensive end, Jonathon Cooper, out with an injury.
But, realistically, not having Young means Ohio State might win by only four touchdowns instead of five, or something like that.
In their minds, Ohio State fans and coaches are probably not playing them one at a time. The big questions here are multi-game questions.
Back-to-back games against Maryland this week and Rutgers are not expected to be competitive.
Where the concerns leap to another level are the two games that follow those two exhibition-level contests.
OSU will play undefeated Penn State in Columbus on Nov. 23 and then go to Michigan on Nov. 30. Not having Young for those games could make a big difference.
Young used Twitter to give his side of the story, saying he took a loan from a family friend and repaid it last summer.
The NCAA rule book is thick and complicated. It is difficult to predict NCAA rulings and also hard to guess how long an investigation will take.
The best possible scenario might be that Young has to sit out one or two games. The worst possible outcome is the NCAA deems the family friend’s motivation as something more suspicious than just friendship and sits down Young for the season.
Some Ohio State fans also fear that if Young’s suspension is something like three or four games, he might decide his college career is over right now and begin training for the NFL even though he has given no indication he would consider that.
Even without Young, Ohio State should dominate Maryland today.
Maryland started the season with a 79-0 win over Howard, an FCS school, and a 63-20 win over Syracuse, which fired its defensive coordinator in the middle of the season. But since then Maryland’s only win is over Rutgers.
Since Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014, Ohio State has scored 52 points, 49 points, 62 points in back-to-back seasons and 52 points. It could be more of the same today.
The prediction: Ohio State 42, Maryland 7.