I'll be honest, I've been thinking about writing this piece for a couple of years now. I even started it back up again last week, though ironically I had to put it on hold while the Ray Small imbroglio unfolded.
Is It Time To Shutdown The Glenville Pipeline?
By Tony Gerdeman
Everybody knows about the Cleveland Glenville Pipeline. Since Jim Tressel came to Ohio State, he has signed 17 Glenville Tarblooders to Letters of Intent. He has signed at least one Tarblooder in every recruiting class since 2002.
In fact, he has only been turned down twice by a Tarblooder that was offered an Ohio State scholarship. The first came in 2008 when receiver Cordale Scott stunned everybody by choosing Illinois over the Buckeyes. The second came this past February when offensive lineman Aundrey Walker chose USC over Ohio State.
In both instances Buckeye fans worried that this meant the end of the Glenville Pipeline. But maybe the end of the Glenville Pipeline is exactly what this football program needs right now.
I'm not saying Ohio State should never again recruit a Glenville football player, I'm merely saying there's really no need to take risks. Especially now.
What type of risks, you ask?
Let's begin with academics. According to Ohio State and the Big Ten, of the 16 Tarblooders who signed with Ohio State prior to the 2011 recruiting class, only three have ever made Academic All-Big Ten.
Troy Smith made it as a redshirt freshman in 2003. Ted Ginn made it as a sophomore in 2005. And Bryant Browning made it each of his four years as a Buckeye.
But it's not just a lack of academic excellence, there's also the proliferation of academic negligence. Two Tarblooders never even made it into Ohio State--linebacker Freddie Lenix and defensive tackle Shawntel Rowell were both locked out because of academics.
Troy Smith reportedly had test scores that needed to be raised during his recruitment. 2011 quarterback signee Cordale Jones is going to prep school for a year to get his academics in order. Safety Jermale Hines wasn't cleared to play during his freshman season until the end of September.
Defensive back Dareus Hiley left after one year due to academics. Offensive lineman Marcus Hall redshirted in 2010 in order to catch up on his academics. There were concerns about whether or not Ray Small would be good to go when he first arrived on campus as a freshman, and linebacker Jonathan Newsome spent the last two springs in Jim Tressel's doghouse because of academics.
Photo by Jim Davidson
That's nine of 17 signees with known academic issues that I'm comfortable mentioning.
By no means does an academic issue mean that a player is a lost cause, because Troy Smith and Jermale Hines would be absolute proof to refute that claim, but it does paint a particular picture of the Glenville Pipeline.
Academics is just one piece of the puzzle, however. What about production? Glenville is known throughout the college football world because of the players that they have produced, but is that really a deserved pedestal?
Leaving out the last two classes, because it's entirely too early to judge production of a rising sophomore class and a freshman class that doesn't yet exist, only five of the 15 players signed have started for an entire season.
Those players are Troy Smith, Donte Whitner, Ted Ginn, Bryant Browning and Jermale Hines. Those names are a tremendous legacy for any school, but their legacy is starting to be outweighed by the rest of the clan.
This is not meant to diminish the contributions of the current players who have yet to start, because sometimes these things take time. Troy Smith didn't become a starter until late in his third season as a Buckeye. I'm merely showing that it's not all Heismans and touchdowns for the Tarblooders.
Of the eleven Tarblooders to complete their eligibility, only two (Browning and Terry) have managed to stay at Ohio State for at least four years and never miss a game due to suspension or academics, while Ted Ginn and Donte Whitner both left early for the NFL and made incredibly wise decisions in doing so.
But beyond academics and production, the most disconcerting aspect of the Glenville Pipeline has been the discipline issues that so many of the Tarblooders have found themselves in.
Of the twelve Glenville alums to spend at least two seasons at Ohio State, four have been suspended during their careers.
Troy Smith was suspended for the Alamo Bowl in 2004 and the opener in 2005 for accepting benefits. Safety Jamario O'Neal was given a two-game suspension to start the 2008 season. Ray Small was suspended for two games in 2008 as well as the Rose Bowl following the 2009 season. Defensive end Robert Rose was also suspended for that same Rose Bowl.
Photo by Jim Davidson
That doesn't even include the allegations in Sports Illustrated's latest issue concerning Jermil Martin accepting a Chevy Tahoe in exchange for Rose Bowl tickets.
In the last week, both Small and Rose have admitted to accepting benefits that violate NCAA rules. Add in the Troy Smith violation, and if you believe the Martin story from Sports Illustrated, that's four Tarblooders who have committed NCAA violations.
In other words, a Glenville player is more likely to be suspended at some point in their career or commit an NCAA infraction than they are to be named Academic All-Big Ten, which requires a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Troy Smith remains a sterling example of what can go right when you give a player on the academic outskirts a chance, at least academically speaking. He's also a sterling example of what can go wrong in every other sense.
Clearly, not all Glenville football players are "bad kids", and admittedly several are simply guilty by association. But when you have a pipeline, it allows for data to accumulate, and the data isn't very encouraging.
You can't continue to succeed as a college football coach if you're constantly trying to prove exceptions to apparently hard-and-fast rules. Jim Tressel is now living proof of that.
You can ask where would Ohio State be without the Glenville Pipeline, and depending on which side of the line you stand, the answers you hear will vary greatly.
Some would declare that the Tressel Era would have many fewer wins than it does now. While others would declare that Tressel would certainly have one fewer resignations.
Photo by Jim Davidson
There is still a place for Tressel's type of approach with the likes of Glenville. You don't need to look any further than Curtis Terry. He was a kid that needed Ohio State more than Ohio State needed him. He had a turbulent home life with zero academic backing, yet he stuck it out for five years as a Buckeye, and Ohio State stuck it out with him.
Sometimes a scholarship can save a life, but that doesn't mean Glenville is the only school with players worth saving. The Tarblooder pipeline has run its course and it's probably time for Ohio State to move on.
Is the next Troy Smith really worth the possibilities of the next Ray Small? Or even the next Troy Smith?
It sure shouldn't be, and probably never should have been to begin with.
Donte Whitner and Curtis Terry are Glenville success stories, but those stories are mired in a pipeline's muck that has run thick with the sludge of entitlement.
On Monday, Whitner tweeted "Pipeline broken. Good job."
Clearly, 'Good job' is facetious, but that doesn't mean it isn't good news.
The History of Glenville Signees Under Jim Tressel
Troy Smith (4-star, #15 ranked QB per Scout)
The 2006 Heisman Trophy winner led the Buckeyes to the BCS National Championship Game following the 2006 season, and had a chance to do it in 2005 as well had he not accepted a $500 handshake that cost him the end of his 2004 season and start of 2005. Smith was unquestionably one of the greatest Buckeyes of all time, and certainly its greatest quarterback.
Dareus Hiley (4-star, #6 ranked CB per Scout)
Or “Superman” as Hiley was better known. He was at Ohio State for one year before leaving with academic “issues”. There were stories of him reappearing here and there at junior colleges, and even back at Ohio State working out at the WHAC. But he never contributed on the field for the Buckeyes.
Donte Whitner (5-star, #1 ranked CB per Scout)
Whitner enrolled early and saw the field as a true freshman. He was a starter as a sophomore, and All-Big Ten as a junior. He left for the NFL following his junior season and was a top ten draft pick. Clearly, he made a wise decision. He was perhaps Jim Tressel's best player ever.
Curtis Terry (2-star, unranked LB per Scout)
Terry was placed on special teams right away rather than redshirting, and that's where he spent the bulk of his first two seasons. He started three games at linebacker as a junior, but had to redshirt in 2007 with foot issues. He was moved around from fullback to linebacker to defensive end in 2008 before having to shut it down for good with two broken shins.
Ted Ginn (5-star, #1 ranked CB per Scout
One of the most dynamic Buckeyes ever, and perhaps the fastest. Single-handedly beat Michigan State in 2004 as a true freshman. Became Ohio State's first wildcat QB in the 2004 Alamo Bowl. Had a rushing touchdown, kickoff return touchdown, punt return touchdown and four receiving touchdowns in 2005. He added another punt and kickoff return touchdown in 2006, as well as nine touchdown receptions. Left for the NFL after his junior season and was a top ten draft pick. Like Whitner, clearly a wise decision.
Freddie Lenix (4-star, #27 ranked LB per Scout)
Undersized, but incredibly fast. There was a lot of buzz about Lenix's potential. Unfortunately, despite having qualifying NCAA test scores, he wasn't able to get into Ohio State. He grayshirted, taking classes at a community college near his home in Cleveland. Unfortunately, he still couldn't gain admission the following year and signed with the University of Cincinnati. He left the program later in the 2006 season.
Jamario O'Neal (5-star, #3 ranked CB per Scout)
O'Neal committed to the Buckeyes before he was ever a Glenville Tarblooder. As a sophomore at Mansfield Senior, he pledged to be a Buckeyes before eventually transferring to Glenville. He started eight games his sophomore season at Ohio State, but was a role player in the two seasons to follow. He was suspended the first two games of his senior season.
Ray Small (4-star, #11 ranked CB per Scout)
Small lived in Jim Tressel's doghouse for most of his career. He was suspended for two games as a junior, and for the Rose Bowl as a senior. He had his preferred jersey #4 stripped in favor of #82. He threw his teammates under the bus in a recent The Lantern article where he detailed how he accepted extra benefits, and is now persona non grata amongst former teammates and current Buckeyes. Caught three touchdown passes in his four-year career.
Bryant Browning (3-star, #61 ranked OL per Scout)
Browning came to Ohio State with an academic reputation and did nothing to prove that reputation wrong. He was a four-time Academic All Big Ten performer and a three-year starter on the offensive line. He missed zero games due to suspension.
Robert Rose (4-star, #5 ranked DE per Scout)
Had 3.5 sacks as a true freshman, and four more for the rest of his career. Battled injuries for most of his time as a Buckeye. Was suspended for the Rose Bowl following the 2009 season. Spoke to Sports Illustrated and admitted to trading memorabilia for benefits.
Jermale Hines (4-star, #16 ranked SLB per Scout)
He only played in seven games as a true freshman as he waited for the NCAA Clearinghouse to make him eligible. Once he was cleared, he was inserted into the special teams. For his final three years, he was a key member of the defense and started 29 games. He reportedly considering leaving for the NFL after his junior season, but decided to stay. He was one of the most productive Tarblooders ever, and still had to work through academic issues to see the field.
Jermil Martin (2-star, unranked FB per Scout)
Martin redshirted as a freshman and carried the ball eleven times as a sophomore before leaving school prior to the 2010 season. Was named in the recent Sports Illustrated article as receiving extra benefits, including a Chevy Tahoe and Jaguar sedan.
Shawntel Rowell (3-star, #60 ranked DT per Scout)
Rowell was never able to enroll with his class because he reportedly didn't have a qualifying ACT score. He ended up at a junior college and is apparently set to take the field for the West Virginia Mountaineers this season.
Marcus Hall (4-star, #5 ranked OT per Scout)
Hall appeared to be a redshirt candidate as a freshman, but injuries to the offensive line forced Jim Tressel's hand. Hall turned out to be a valuable reserve, seeing action in nine games and starting the epic overtime win against Iowa. The redshirt that the staff had initially wanted for Hall then came in 2010, as they wanted him to focus on his academics rather than football. Hall's own press release stated that he was redshirting for failing to “complete my academic responsibilities”.
Jonathan Newsome (4-star, #27 ranked DE per Scout)
Newsome played in five games as a freshman and all 13 games, including one start, last year as a sophomore. He has spent the only two springs he's had as a Buckeye in Jim Tressel's doghouse for academic issues. He missed the first ten spring practices in 2010 for those same reasons.
Christian Bryant (4-star, #8 ranked CB per Scout)
Bryant emerged as soon as he took the practice field. He was quickly moved to safety because it was the fastest way to get him on the field. He then moved to Star after Tyler Moeller was lost for the season. He played in seven games, and started against Indiana before being lost for the regular season due to his own injury. He is expected to be a vital contributor to Ohio State's defense this season.
Cardale Jones (3-star, #24 ranked QB per Scout)
Jones was rerouted to a prep school, which is generally a way of saying that the kid couldn't get into Ohio State initially and he has more academic work to do. He will grayshirt, but whether or not he ever puts on an Ohio State uniform is so far up in the air right now that the atmosphere is too thin to allow proper brain activity.
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