With five games remaining on the schedule, there are some big questions currently for the Buckeyes. Can this team run the table and shock the world? What bowl, if any, will this team qualify for? Will there be any additional penalties handed down from the NCAA? Can Luke Fickell do enough to save his job?
While it's not quite as big of question as those I just listed, there is something else I have been wondering about as I watch this season unfold. How will Mike Adams, DeVier Posey and Boom Herron be remembered? It's an inquiry that really yields very little more than speculation at this point.
The interesting thing is that we can already start to see the legacies of some of the others involved in this scandal being shaped. For instances, we know how Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor will be remembered in Buckeye Nation. Tressel is already being enshrined all over the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, and will go down as one of the greatest coaches in OSU history. Though his accomplishments have been slightly damaged, it won't keep Buckeye fans from honoring him in the future as they have with Woody Hayes. Pryor though, will always stand on the opposite end of the spectrum. Whether fair or not, he will always be remembered as the guy that brought Ohio State down. Any hope of him eventually repairing his imagine went down the drain when he threw more evidence out to get himself in the supplemental draft.
What about the aforementioned "Returning 3," will they suffer a similar fate to Pryor or will the history books talk about the 2011 season repairing their legacy? Let's take a look at each of these guys individually.
Outside of Solomon Thomas, I'm not sure any player has taken less heat throughout this process than Mike Adams. I by no means think the Adams has gotten a free pass, instead, I think this scandal just confirmed what many already thought about him. Even before all this went down last December, Adams was known as an incredible talent who didn't seem to have the drive to be great. On the field, Adams spent a lot of his early career being outperformed by guys like Andy Miller at tackle, a converted tight end who possessed a fraction of Adams' potential. Off the field, Adams was in Tressel's doghouse multiple times, and at one point found himself suspended and demoted to third string after getting in trouble with police. So yes, Adams could easily be remembered as the guy who had the intangibles of Orlando Pace with the brains of Alex Boone.
The one thing that will help Adams' legacy is the way he has turned things around late in his career. Not only has he become the man on the field we expected, off the field he has cleaned things up a lot. In fact, he has been very open and taken responsibility about his actions, even sucking things up on scout team.
"That part of the suspension definitely makes you challenge yourself a little bit," he said. "I'd be sitting on my couch watching the games going, 'Man, I wish I was out there.' But it was nobody's fault but my own."
Unlike Adams, Posey was on his way to being one of the greatest wide receivers in Ohio State history before the tattoo scandal broke. He ranks 9th in career pass receptions and 14th in career passing yards, and had he played this entire season would have been towards the top on both lists. Also unlike Adams, Posey appeared to be a player doing all the right things on and off the field.
Things turned quickly for him though. After being suspended for five games back in December, Posey's name seemed to be thrown around in allegations and breaking stories almost as much as Pryor's. Then earlier this month, when Posey looked to return to the field after that suspension, his named surfaced once again in another violation. He would be suspended for five more games, this time for taking too much money for a summer job. While there was an outcry from former players, fans and bloggers that the penalty was to harsh (and Posey was being used as a scapegoat by OSU), the penalty has stood. Unfortunately for Posey, that extra 5 games could be the very thing that seals his legacy. While Adams and Herron have been able to come back and redeem themselves thanks to their play and visible leadership, Posey is still watching games from home.
Of these three guys, no one should be upset about their poor off-field choices more than Herron. At a university that remembers and celebrates their tradition of running backs, Herron was on his way to be in the record books at Ohio State. After a junior season that saw him rush for 1,155 yards and 16 touchdowns, one has to wonder what he could have done this season in this run heavy offense. Just duplicating his output from the 2010 season would have put him alongside guys like Beanie Wells, Keith Byars and Pepe Pearson in career rushing yards.
Instead, Boom will be forever lumped into this low point in Buckeye football history, making his legacy murky. What will ultimately help how he will be remembered is the way he and this team finish out the season. If he can carry the team on his shoulders to an 8 or 9 win season with a victory over Michigan, it would help atone for some of his mistakes. With the way he has acted as a leader over the last few months and his performance against Illinois, that doesn't seem like too outlandish of an idea. I know I'm pulling for him.
How will you remember these guys?