Clarett Causes Unnecessary Stir
2002 Championship Reunion Only in Early Stages
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Running back Maurice Clarett was a lightning rod on Ohio State’s 2002 National Championship team, and he continues to be a polarizing figure to this day.
Nearly 10 years after helping the Buckeyes to a perfect 14-0 season, the former OSU standout caused a stir Friday with his tweet about a potential reunion for the school’s first national title in over three decades.
“I heard OSU was honoring our 10 (year) National Championship this (year),” Clarett posted on his personal Twitter page.
“Word on the block is that they forgot to send out 2 invites: Me & Tress.”
Clarett’s story did not end with the BCS title game victory over Miami (Fla.) back in January, 2003.
It was only beginning.
After one year at Ohio State, Clarett would eventually find himself ineligible—both for college football and the NFL. He would eventually spend nearly four years in an Ohio prison for robbery and other charges, but that doesn’t mean he would not be invited back for a potential reunion in Columbus.
According to an Ohio State spokesperson, there has been talk of honoring the 2002 team during the upcoming season, but it is only in the early stages. The University is planning to have discussions with team captains Mike Doss and Donnie Nickey, but no invites have been sent.
“They must have forgot me too,” cornerback Dustin Fox said after hearing about the Tweet from Clarett, who had more than his share of issues at Ohio State.
He also had a lot of success.
Though only a freshman, Clarett ran for 1,237 yards and 18 touchdowns—both rookie records at Ohio State. He scored the winning touchdown against Miami with a five-yard run in the second overtime in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.
He also made a game-changing defensive play in that game, stealing the ball from Hurricanes safety Sean Taylor, who was returning an interception from the end zone of a pass thrown by Craig Krenzel.
Even then, Clarett’s life was already spiraling out of control.
He publicly maligned OSU officials for not flying him home to Ohio for the funeral of a childhood friend, and subsequently accused them of lying when they claimed he had not filed the necessary paperwork.
In July 2003, Clarett was implicated in a New York Times report claiming he had received preferential treatment from Ohio State professors. He was later suspended by Ohio State for the 2003 season after he falsified a police report, claiming more than $10,000 had been stolen from a car he borrowed from a local dealership.
Since getting out of prison in 2010, Clarett seems to have turned his life around. He re-enrolled at Ohio State with the help of his former head coach and is currently playing for the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League.
Tressel, however, ran into his own issues not long after Clarett’s release. He was eventually forced to resign from Ohio State after 10 seasons for his role in an NCAA cover-up that ultimately cost the Buckeyes a post-season ban for the upcoming 2012 season.
Sources have indicated to the-Ozone that if and when they do have a 2002 reunion, it will almost certainly include both Clarett and Tressel, two of the key figures on that championship team.
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