Archives for June 2013

Ed O’Bannon, You’re No Curt Flood – Wait, what? (Part One)

ncaa_logo(This is a guest post by Garth, an Ohio State law grad and a future member of the MotSaG writing staff. Because of the breadth of this post, it will run in two parts. Part one runs today (Friday) while Part Two will run Monday)

In competitive achievement, Ed O’Bannon and Curt Flood are miles apart. Playing for the high flying St. Louis Cardinals baseball team in the 1960-70s, Flood won multiple gold gloves, managed to hit over .300 numerous times and at the time of his retirement was among the leaders in baseball history in terms of games played in centerfield. Ed O’Bannon on the other hand fizzled out in the NBA after only two years and then began a foreign basketball odyssey spanning several years. Ed O’Bannon did however enjoy a successful college career, leading UCLA back to the promised land with a 1995 NCAA title.

Flood failed in his own attempt to convince the US Supreme Court to reverse its own determination that major league baseball was exempt from federal antitrust laws. Flood had hoped such a reversal would then permit him to argue that the antitrust laws prohibited the application of baseball’s reserve clause (a standard provision in a player contract that essentially made a player property of one team for as long as the team wanted). However, in losing a case that could have dramatically improved his financial worth, Flood mobilized players to such an extent that within three years an arbitrator decided the reserve clause only applied for one year, not the playing career of a player. This decision, actually on behalf of pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally, ushered in free agency. Now Ed O’Bannon attempts a legal challenge that, if successful, will do less as a practical matter for his personal net worth, but which could set off even more profound changes for the world of collegiate athletics.

The O’Bannon Case

In a nutshell, O’Bannon has sought to be compensated, first for the use of his likeness in video games as a member of the 1995 National Champion Bruins. The defendants include the NCAA and EA Sports, a video game maker. O’Bannon has since expanded his claim against the NCAA to claim a share in the proceeds from other sources including from television contracts with networks that broadcast games in which he appeared (the plaintiffs recently dropped claims for items such as jersey sales—for now anyway). There are numerous legal theories, but basically the claim is one of antitrust: that by virtue of its size and power, the defendants, most notably the NCAA, monopolistically and illegally deprived O’Bannon of his right to be compensated for the value of his efforts in the marketplace.

But this case is not just between Mr. O’Bannon and the defendants. Since the first case was filed, it has been merged with similar cases and other former famous collegiate athletes have been added as plaintiffs—Bill Russell for example. Then, the plaintiffs have made it clear they intend to add current collegiate athletes to the mix.

The Class Action Spector—The Real Story

Law in America is often not as much about who is right and who is wrong as it is about the opportunities afforded by the legal system to use brute force to achieve a desired outcome. A claim for a share of the increasingly enormous television contracts for NCAA football and basketball is potentially enormous. By adding many potential plaintiffs, the opportunity for a huge potential aggregate payment is potentially painful to the defendants. Also, by implicating the federal antitrust laws, the looming shadow of triple (treble) damages is particularly daunting.
So the stakes are high. But, in the world of big dollars they are not so high that they cannot be managed by these defendants. It takes resources and time to bring a lawsuit—so although the potential plaintiffs are many, the chance to fight and parry and manage toward individual settlements that can be minimized in the aggregate can be an appealing strategy to the defendants.

That is, unless all possible plaintiffs—including those who otherwise would not lift a finger to bring their own claim—can be brought together as one big group and represented en masse in a class action lawsuit. If that is possible, then the defendants face the prospect of a trial before a jury, which can never be counted on predictably and which could return an enormous victory for the plaintiffs which again would tripled by treble damages.

It is important to take a moment to realize just what a class action means in real life practical terms. This is about power and money, and nothing puts those two on a collision course like class action lawsuits, which are the holy grail for plaintiff lawyers (and make a pretty penny in the process, thank you, for the lawyers who defend them). While no one can dispute the legitimate value of certain class action lawsuits, many class actions yield nothing but $10 discounts for future purchases by customers who might have been victimized—settlements so benign that they actually represent discount coupons to leverage future sales of product—effectively marketing coups for the defendants. But even in such cases the lawyers can get millions of dollars as part of the court approved class action settlement. So though there might not be great value to a particular case, the process of a class action lawsuit attracts lawyers who nominally prosecute minor claims for defendants when what they are really looking for is to wax the system for their own huge financial reward. Even in cases where treble damages are not possible—few class actions go to trial—the sheer in terrorem risk of a potential jury trial often forces a settlement that does little for plaintiffs but enriches the lawyers.

Now imagine the legal feeding frenzy if billions of dollars are at stake as in the eventual O’Bannon case. The individual awards to athletes are likely to be smallish really on an individual basis, though the aggregate dollars have to be intimidating to the defendants. But the payoffs to the lawyers, which are on the other hand smallish in the aggregate but enormous to the lawyers, really are what give life to this type of case–a life that really depends on achieving class action status. So the value of having this case turn into a class action is probably as much lawyer driven as it is plaintiff drive—and it is that underlying effect that has the potential to turn college athletics on its head.

It is not inconceivable, of course, that the NCAA could take an uncertain antitrust claim to a jury—the NFL did so when sued by the USFL. In that case the NFL gambled and “lost,” although the award was for one dollar. With treble damages and interest, the NFL paid $3.76 in total—but the point is, the jury held for the plaintiff on the law—the NCAA might not feel it could get so similarly lucky on the damage issue.

It’s Go Time

The O’Bannon case is now at a critical juncture. On June 20, 2013, the sides presented arguments on whether the potential plaintiffs could be certified as a class to justify a class action lawsuit. To be certified as a class, the plaintiffs must demonstrate several things, including that all members of the class have essentially the same legal arguments and issues and that all claims are “typical.” Both of these showings seem questionable, but it is difficult to predict the outcome. Different courts approach these requirements differently, especially with regard to the typicality requirement. Some courts look to whether the underlying event giving rise to the claim is typical, while others look to see if the damages are relatively the same. If it is the latter, can one really insist for example, that the television value of Johnny Manzell is the same as that of a reserve linebacker who never makes it into a game? But it is not clear how this requirement would be applied in this case—for example, does every plaintiff have to receive the same dollar amount, or could one plaintiff receive a certain percentage of his conference’s television payment while another received a similar percentage of a different television payment to that player’s conference.

If the plaintiffs completely prevail so that current players are included in the class, the brute force opportunity for the plaintiffs to win at trial becomes so imposing and so potentially destructive to the current big college sports/economic model that the NCAA may be forced to settle in a way that could drastically change the college sports landscape. For example, the NCAA could agree to pay 50% of television proceeds to past and current players. This would wreak havoc on athletic department budgets that are already overstrained in most cases. Presumably the number of sports supported by colleges would be dramatically reduced. Also, because the marque conferences receive the highest television contracts, the competitive divide between the football haves and have nots could be greatly exacerbated.

On the other hand, if the class is not certified, the NCAA could much more easily manage and defend the individual cases that do arise. In between, the judge could certify the former players, but not the current players—a circumstance which also provides time and maneuverability for the NCAA.

The 63 year old federal judge hearing the matter in Oakland, Claudia Wilken, is an experienced jurist who has dealt with the complexity of sports, business and education matters. In a hearing in her courtroom on June 20, 2013, Judge Wilken did not particularly tip her hand as to how she might rule, though she did indicate she could imagine approving the class action but having a jury determine whether the awards are the same for each member of the class. If the jury determines that the awards would not be uniform, the class would be decertified—a result that, like the USFL verdict could be a hollow victory for the plaintiffs.

(So now that you know what’s happening, check back with us on Monday for the important issue: How does this effect Ohio State?)

Devin Gardner Says The Darndest Things (Guest Post)

Football(This is a guest post by James E, one of the applicants for the recently open positions on the MotSaG staff.)

The summer months are upon us and this means only one thing — football season is just around the corner — and so is The Game.

While things are heating up in the air and on the field, they are also heating up in the trash talking department. And that team up north has decided to fire the first salvo, coming from the first year starting quarterback from the Wolverines, Devin Gardner.

Gardner got interviewed earlier this week and was asked what Michigan’s chances are against Ohio State:

“We always have room for improvement, but this is definitely a championship caliber football team that will win in the Big House against Ohio State. We don’t feel we’re inferior to anyone in the country, and we’re going to give it our all.”

I admire his courage and passion, doing his best to rally the troops for this upcoming season, but let me show him his predecessor’s stats against Ohio State during his freshman year: Lost 37-7, failed to register a passing or rushing touchdown, rushed for 105 yards on 18 carries, and only managed a meager 87 passing yards. Not too mention that he was injured and had to be replace by Tate Forcier.

His words will obviously add fuel to fire for The Rivalry as Ohio State continues their winning ways with Urban Meyer at the helm and Brady Hoke will do his best to course correct the football program with a paltry record of 2-9 against the Buckeyes in the past eleven seasons.

Legendary OSU coach Schmidt was asked if they had any chances of beating Michigan. He said (paraphrased) that they put their pants on just like us — one leg at a time. From the time the rivalry started in 1897, Michigan had wiped the floor with the Buckeyes. From the start and up to the end of the 1920’s, the Wolverines owned Ohio State with a record of 19-5-2. Even from 1930-1933, Michigan won 3 out 4, while claiming 2 national championships.

Enter Coach Schmidt in 1934, where the Buckeyes rattled off four straight shutout victories over Michigan with a combined score of 112-0. Schmidt’s pants quote started a tradition. Since 1934, Buckeye players will receive a gold pants pendant for every victory over Michigan.

Well, Ohio State has the bigger pants and when the dust settles on November 30th, I hope Gardner and his fellow MeatChicken Wolverines are hungry because we’re going to have a big bowl of crow for them to munch on.

Deshaun Thomas Selected By San Antonio as the 58th Pick

basketball_iconDeshaun Thomas has been selected as the 58th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs.

This, of course, is the height of irony, since Deshaun Thomas decided that he’d play a little hard-to-get with the Spurs when they asked for his cell phone number (and his email address):

“I can’t go around giving it out to everyone,” Thomas said Thursday with a laugh. “Now if they want to draft me, I’d be happy to give it to them.”

Don’t ever change, DT.

ThomasDeshaun, who left Ohio State as a junior, was a part of two memorable Ohio State teams that made deep runs in the NCAA tournament, getting to the Final Four as a sophomore in 2012. The Buckeye’s run to the Final Four was due in part to a stellar stretch of tournament play by Deshaun himself.

Deshaun emerged as the Big Ten’s leading scorer during the 2012-2013 season, averaging almost 20 points a game as he lead the Buckeyes to a spot in this year’s Elite Eight, ultimately falling to Wichita State after a furious comeback attempt.

Deshaun had to be sweating as the draft came to a close, but will have to work hard now to prove leaving school as a junior wasn’t a mistake. The Spurs organization is one of the most respected in the league. Hopefully they will find a place for Deshaun but time will tell what the future holds.

Jamarco Jones makes it 14 for 2014

OSU FootballAs I talked about in the last recruiting post June has been a big month for Ohio State. The one area that they haven’t had much is in the OL area sure we have top guys in Kyle Trout and Marcelys Jones. But more times than not OSU has missed out on some of the nations OLmen who have chosen other schools over the Buckeyes. Of course fans like yours truly see it as the sky is falling and that OSU will not get anyone they want and any other number of redonk woah is me type things. All along though Coach Meyer and his staff have been plugging away and working on the guys they want and it finally paid off big time today in landing one of the nations best OLman.


Jamarco Jones committed to be a member of the 2014 recruiting class of The Ohio State University today via his twitter account.

(H/T to Marc Givler @MarcGivlerBG)

Jamarco Jones is a 6’5″ 290 lbs 4 star OT from Chicago, Illinois. Jamarco comes to us from historic De La Salle HS in Chicago which brought the world Byant and Greg Gumble. On a serious note though Jamarco is a very talented OT prospect and trains with the acclaimed Core 6 athletes. His strength and agility and great foot movement are what people will notice about him. He has a real nasty side to him that all good OTs have. He is a huge get for OSU and will have a quick impact on the rest of the 2014 class. 247sports ranks him a 4 star and the 43rd best recruit in the country. Rivals ranks him a 4 star and the 13th best OT recruit in the country. ESPN ranks him a 4 star and the 66th best recruit in the country. Scout ranks him a 4 star and the 52nd best recruit in the country. Below you can see his highlight reel.

Buckeyes Need The Wolverines to be Good [Guest Post]

OSU Football(This is a guest post by Shannon S, one of many applicants for the recently open positions on the MotSaG staff.)

Can’t believe I actually just wrote that but its true. Recently, Devin Gardner was quoted as saying:

“We always have room for improvement, but this is definitely a championship-caliber football team that will win in the Big House against Ohio State,” Gardner said. “We don’t feel we’re inferior to anyone in the country, and we’re going to give it our all.”

Yes, this is good bulletin board material for the Buckeyes (not that they need much for The Game). Both teams’ players and coaching staffs get the importance of the best rivalry in college football.

A little while ago, I came across an article written by Lisa Horne on Bleacher Report talking about the Buckeyes weak 2013 schedule. I agree with her point that Ohio State does have a weak schedule. However, I will have to disagree with her thought there is only one tough game for the Buckeyes:

“The most dangerous team on Ohio State’s schedule is Northwestern. The Wildcats return 17 starters after posting a 10-3 record that included a 34-20 Gator Bowl victory over Mississippi State.”

Northwestern had a great year last season but this year’s schedule isn’t going to be so friendly. They start the B1G off at home against the Buckeyes (after an off week) and then have to travel to Wisconsin, who is a question mark with a new coach. The Wildcats will have another tough stretch playing at Nebraska, followed by two home games versus Michigan and Michigan St. Last season the two losses Northwestern had was against Nebraska and Michigan. Northwestern didn’t play Ohio State.

I contest that Michigan will be Ohio State’s most dangerous team to face in 2013. I agree that Northwestern will be a tough game for the Buckeyes but I envision Michigan winning the Legends Division, thus helping Ohio State reach the National Championship game by having to play the Buckeyes two weeks in a row. Michigan has a decent schedule. They play Notre Dame, who played in National Championship game in 2012, at home. Michigan’s toughest B1G road game is against Northwestern and have to play host to Nebraska and Ohio State. There is a real possibility of Ohio State and Michigan meeting this year both being undefeated for their match in The Big House. That would set up a rematch the following week in the B1G championship game. This is what the B1G wanted and possibly will get in the final season of the Legends and Leaders division before the realignment takes effect in 2014.

I am hoping for the Buckeye’s sake that Michigan is a championship caliber team. Everyone says the B1G is weak. It’s getting cliche at this point. After seeing these two team with Top 5 recruiting classes this past year, I am excited that this rivalry has the potential to get to where it was once before. As hard as it is for a team to go undefeated one year, let alone back to back years, this Ohio State team has the best shot to do it. Urban Meyer is a great head coach and knows how to get the best out of his players and he has a ton of talent on this team. Wins against Michigan in the Big House and on a neutral field will definitely propel the Buckeyes and will end the discussion if they belong or not.

NCAA Hands Oregon “Punishment”

Back in 2010, the Oregon Ducks Presented By Nike wrote a $25,000 check to Houston recruiting company Complete Scouting Services run by Willie Lyles, who is apparently not the secret identity of a Batman villain. As it turns out, the money was more likely to secure Lyles’ influence with star recruits like Lache Seastrunk, which is really the name of an actual human being, and not for the report Lyles sent them, which consisted of seven screencaps and a bag of old Bazooka Joe comics.

Today, the NCAA delivered a similarly insignificant package in the form of sanctions, which include:

  • The loss of three scholarships over the next three seasons
  • Three years probation

Did I say “include?” I meant “consist entirely of.”

Yep. That’s it.

Oh, sure, there’s also that 18-month show-cause penalty levied against current Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, which will make it difficult for him to obtain another college coaching gig until, you know, he might actually be in the market for one.

I don’t want to get sanctimonious here, but the fact that a team can essentially attempt to purchase a player and receive virtually no punishment at all is a bit infuriating, especially if you’re a fan of an undefeated team that had to experience the postseason at home.

The excuse is that Oregon cooperated fully with the NCAA’s investigation, and I guess that’s fine, but it was my understanding that Ohio State did as well. In fact, it was an OSU staffer that initially discovered and reported that Tressel had previous knowledge of the infractions committed by players.

It’s really becoming difficult to defend the NCAA in any capacity when in comes to infractions cases. They botch investigations, completely ignore significant violations, and spew out wildly inconsistent punishments seemingly at random.

At this point, I won’t be surprised if Miami gets the death penalty or a nice basket of cured meats.

Seven Years!

This past Saturday, June 22nd, marked the seventh anniversary of the launch of this here little OSU blog site, Men of the Scarlet and Gray.

(Just for reference to how old MotSaG is, the freshmen joing the OSU football team this fall were in the fourth or fifth grade when MotSaG was launched. Twitter didn’t exist. At least we had YouTube.)

In that time, we’ve watched a Heisman Trophy winner grow up right before us, we’ve seen on of the most amazing human specimen to grace a Buckeye uniform, have watched a stiff-arm become a meme, saw the Buckeyes assume their rightful position as Rose Bowl Champs, and got the SEC monkey off their back (no matter WHAT the NCAA says, that game happened and you can not take that away from us).

Unfortunately, we also had to watch a legend fall from grace but along with that, got to watch a phoenix rise from his ashes.

Oh, we’ve also been on a couple amazing NCAA tournament runs, too. A couple Final Fours ain’t too shabby. This was pretty great (see also: here and here).

Oh, and this happened in that time, too:


We shared this Ted Ginn Jr. Highlight film in our first post, and I feel it’s only appropriate that we share it here again, for old-times sake, to remember how blessed we Buckeye fans have been in the 21st century, and to remember how badly Ted Ginn and company deserved that title in 2006. He did not deserve to go out like this.

Those teams of Ted, Troy and Gonzo were something special. I have a feeling Urban has been amassing a group of kids that are going to make Ted Ginn Jr. look like he was running in molasses.

Looking for a few Good Men (Or Women!) [aka Bloggers]

Blog/site newsOver the past couple of weeks, your humble blog site, Men of the Scarlet and Gray, has gone through some attrition lately with the depature of some recently added writers, which finds us a little thin in the writing department. With the potentially great 2013 season a little over two months away, the amount of content we want to bring to the masses is too much for us few remaining writers to deliver. We need your help!

We’d potentially like to add three to four new writers to our staff. In particular, we’re looking for an “X’s and O'” guy, a numbers guy and a possibly a couple more people that have blogged in the past or have some writing experience. If you’re a newbie but are interested in blogging or sports writing, we would also be willing to take a couple people under our wings to show them the ropes and give them a chance to express their fandom here on the site. We feel like we have one of the best communities in the “Buckeye Web” and are looking to grow that audience ten-fold as we embark on another season of Buckeye Football (and then Basketball after that).

So if you’re interested in joining the staff or would like to contribute, please drop us a line. You can reach us here in the comments of this post, our Contact Us page or by emailing us at We’re looking for a solid commitment, someone that can contribute consistent, thoughtful content on a regular basis. We’re not pros here, we’re just some fans having fun. We’d love to have you join us.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Q&A with Damon Webb

OSU FootballIn what seems like forever ago now, the Ohio State coaching staff received a commitment from one of the best corners in the country. Damon Webb is currently a 4 star recruit, looking to get his 5th star and is ranked the 6th best corner in the country by both Rivals and Scout.

damon_webbWebb comes from Cass Tech High School (Detroit, MI) which is usually a huge pipeline for TTUN, similar to Glenville for Ohio State. So when Webb committed to the Buckeyes, it came as a surprise to some. Webb led Cass Tech to a second straight state title this past fall and is aiming for a three-peat. Damon racked up 40+ tackles and seven interceptions during his junior season.

Webb will be competing in “The Opening” this July and will end his high school career by playing in the US Army All-American Bowl.

I had a chance to chat with him as a well:

ME: Being from TSUN are you taking a lot of heat from their fan base?
Damon Webb: “Yes! I ignore any of the negative stuff.”

ME: Who is your favorite Buckeye of all-time?
DW: “Malcolm Jenkins is my favorite Buckeye.”

ME: What is the strangest thing that has occurred to you on a visit?
DW: “I have not had anything strange happen; all of my visits were nice”

ME: This is from all of Buckeye Nation…is Coach Coombs ever relaxed or calm?
DW: “Coach Coombs is a ball of energy but when I talk with him one on one, he is really calm and serious. He has a great sense of humor.”

ME: What is your favorite food?
DW: “I like BBQ Chicken pizza the most.”

ME: Who is your hero and why?
DW: “My dad is my hero. He is the most genuine person I know. I will always rely on him for advice.”

ME: What do you plan on majoring at Ohio State?
DW: “OSU has a curriculum in Sport Industry with a concentration in business. I would like to be a sports agent after I am finished with football.”

ME: What are your grades like?
DW: “My grades are good but they can be better. I have a 2.9 GPA.”

ME: What is the most memorable moment you have had on the football field?
DW: “It would have to be the first game we played against Brother Rice last season. This was my first game after transferring to Cass and I had a great game. Most fans might remember I had on an OSU skull cap. (haha).”

ME: Why did you choose The Ohio State University?
DW: Ohio State is the best university for me. I love Coach Coombs and the relationship we are building. Coach Meyer is just awesome. I love the school and the football program.”

ME: What do you want all of Buckeye Nation to know about you?
DW: “I am a God fearing person! I am grateful! I am humble! I am ready to work hard!”

I would like to thank Damon and his family for fitting me into their busy schedule. If you are not following Damon Webb on twitter you can do so (@DameWebb). Hope everyone enjoyed the article and Go Buckeyes!

Damon Webb Junior year highlights

Columbus NFTC: Damon Webb Highlights

Big recruiting weekend continues with no. 13

OSU FootballWhat started off as a big month of recruiting continued this weekend big time. OSU has held several football camps and hosted scores of recruits from all over the country. It started off with OSU getting a punter from Down Under. And to prove that special teams means just as much to Urban Meyer as it dis to Jim Tressel he got a commitment from a kicker. Then there was the 24 hours of wackyness that ended with OSU getting a top 50 DE in Jalyn Holmes. Anyone want to land a QB for the 2014 class? Well Coach Meyer did that’s for sure and he got a good one for the 2014 class. To top off the weekend he landed a new commit for a blazing fast WR for his new QB Stephen Collier to throw to over the next few years.


Terry Mclaurin commited tonight via his twitter account.

Terry Mclaurin is a 6’0″ 190 lbs 3 star WR from Indianapolis, Indiana. Terry is a lot like Stephen Collier in that most of the recruiting services have not studied or ranked him but he earned his scholarship the hard way by coming to OSU camp and proving he was worthy of receiving one. It didn’t take long once he was offered to accept and join the class doing both in the same weekend. Terry also has the distinction of being invited to The Opening an elite camp for the nations best recruits while also being unranked by recruiting services. One thing is for sure his stock will jump big time now that people are hearing about him and watching his films and seeing his camp performances. One of the best reasons he got the OSU offer was his blazing speed which he was clocked at a 4.3 40 yarder at OSU this weekend. Scout ranks him a 3 star and the 53rd best WR in the country. Rivals ranked him a 3 star and the 66th best WR in the country. 247sports ranks him a 3 star and the 49th best WR in the country. ESPN being ESPN once again has no ranking on him or scouting report. You can see his highlight reel below.