Ray Small: Screw up, Villain, Liar?

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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 05/27/2011 1:12 PM

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Ray Small: Screw Up, Villain, Liar?

By Brandon Castel

COMMENTARY — It was only a matter of time before somebody got a hold of Ray Small, the embittered former Ohio State receiver who seemed to have more lives than a cat during his time with the Buckeyes.

As it turns out, that somebody was The Lantern, Ohio State’s student newspaper.

For those Buckeye fans who are upset with the authors of the story for “turning on their university,” shame on you. Maybe it was a little self-serving, but these kids are studying to be professional journalists and it is their job to be unbiased, not to protect the OSU football program.

Not sure anyone wants that job right now.

In his “tell all” interview, Small admits to selling Big Ten Championship rings along with accepting deals on tattoos and cars. He also says he’s not the only one who took advantage of the perks of being an Ohio State football player.

“They have a lot (of dirt) on everybody,” Small told The Lantern. “(Because) everybody was doing it.”

With those words, Small poured gasoline on the blazing inferno already closing in around Ohio State and Head Coach Jim Tressel.

Small went on to say that football players aren’t the only ones who get deals on cars, that a lot of people who aren’t famous can get deals from car dealerships like Jack Maxton Chevrolet and Auto Direct, but the damage was already done.

As soon The Lantern published its story on Small Thursday morning, the social networks were set ablaze with former OSU teammates painting him as the new villain of Ohio State football.

Tight end Jake Stoneburner Tweeted that Small was no longer welcome in the Ohio State locker room as long as he was around, and senior center Michael Brewster may have had the harshest words for his former teammate.

“Show me a coward and I will show you Ray Small,” Brewster posted on his personal Twitter account.

“He isn't a part of the sacred brotherhood anymore...never on time, never accountable, never sacrificed for the team. Can you trust his word?”

Brewster’s comments may come from a place of frustration and anger, but they do raise an important question about Small’s credibility. Does his past as a screw-up at Ohio State preclude from being a reliable source of information when it comes to his former teammates, Jim Tressel and the Buckeye football program?

I personally have never subscribed to the theory that just because someone was a subpar student or a bad teammate it automatically makes them a liar. There is, however, a pattern of behavior that might suggest Small as a partial bystander with an axe to grind.

The receiver out of Glenville High School played at Ohio State from 2005-09 and spent more time in Tressel’s dog house than he did out of it. After enough off the field issues, the coaching staff even forced Small to change his number from four to eight-two until he could get his act together.

“I never really did nothing too big like get a DUI or anything like that, but I wasn’t intact with the little things. That was the frustrating part. I’m a young man and I’m like 'What am I doing wrong?'” Small said during his senior year at Ohio State.

“It wasn’t like an everyday thing where I’m late to class, but my coach called me in and he’s like 'Your name has been on the report every week.’ Whether it’s study table hours, I’d probably be like 20 minutes behind on study table and I’d be like ‘Coach it’s 20 minutes, I get done early.’ At the end of the day, I realized what the little things were.”

Had it not been for the support of wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell, now the head football coach at Kent State, Small likely would have left the program after having his number taken away. To his credit, Small stayed the course…
“I could have left (the team), but Ohio State is what I chose and I’m loyal to what I choose,” he said.

That may have changed, however, after Small finished his career in shame when he was suspended for Ohio State’s 2010 Rose Bowl trip against Oregon for violating team rules. It was the final black mark on a stained career for a player who was once tabbed as “the next Teddy Ginn.”

“When I was in college, in my opinion, I was the bad guy,” Small told The Lantern.

“I mean I knew that I was being the bad guy. I had took on that role.”

The fact Small has happily embraced his role as the outlaw may not automatically make him a liar, but it definitely calls into question the motivation behind his comments.

What reason would have to lie about his own actions? Whether he actually received discounts for being an Ohio State football player is largely irrelevant. The important part is that he believed he was. He knew what he was doing was wrong and he did it anyway because, after all, he was the bad guy.

It’s really not that hard to believe that Small partook in every single thing he admitted to, and probably more. Where he loses credibility is not in his past behavior, but when he says “everybody was doing it.”

Now we know there were some guys doing it because six players have been suspended and no one can be naïve enough to think Small is the seventh and final player involved. It is also hard to believe it was a team-wide epidemic, despite what Mark Titus might think.

“For the record though, ‘everyone’ does not include 95 percent of the roster,” former OSU cornerback Chimdi Chekwa Tweeted.

“And I only say 95 (because) I can't be sure of what everyone does. Know that I got my whip in Fla. and my roommate (Bryant Browning) has been driving the ‘95 Ford T for years.”

Therein lays the problem with Small’s statements. In not wanting to throw anyone specific under the bus, he managed to throw everyone under it.

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