COLUMBUS, OH--An ex-Ohio State Buckeye came forward recently with allegations that Maurice Clarett and others received “special benefits” from
boosters while playing on the Buckeye’s football team. Specifically, the ex-player stated that Tressell personally arranged for Clarett to have the
salt passed to him at a team dinner on more than one occasion. The player, who asked not to be identified, spoke to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham in this
month’s issue of ESPN the Magazine.
“Oh, yea, I remember that team dinner when coach [Tressell] hooked Maurice up with some salt,” said the player, who left Ohio State two years ago.
“We were all sitting there eating our meals when Maurice said that he needed some salt for his spaghetti. The salt was down the other end of the
table, so he couldn’t get it himself. He was complaining, you know? He really wanted to add some seasoning to his food.”
The player then went on to describe the “special arrangement” made by coach Tressell, with the help of his brother and assistant coach, Dick.
“Dick was sitting closest to the salt, so when coach Tressell saw that Maurice needed it, he went right to Dick,” said the player. “He yelled
‘Hey, Dick. Pass the salt!’ And just like that, Dick picked up the salt and passed it down the table to coach, who handed it to Maurice. Just like
that. Right out in the open. That’s just how it was. If you were on the football team and needed salt, you’d get it. No receipts, no paper trail,
no evidence. And he wasn’t the only one, either.”
According to the source, all the players received special treatment, and it sometimes went further than a simple salt shaker. Bottles of ketchup,
mustard, steak sauce, and even napkins were distributed freely at almost every team dinner.
“Oh, it was like hittin the jackpot being at those dinners,” said the source. “If you wanted some ketchup for your burger, you’d just have to
say the word. Steak sauce? Ditto. Tabasco? Butter? Ice for you drink? It’s all there for the taking, like you’re a king or something.”
Occasionally the boosters would show up at team dinners and make their rounds to all the players.
“Oh when they showed up, you knew you were getting something,” the player said. “They’d make
their way down the table shaking people’s hands, asking if anyone needed anything. So like, if your napkin was all greasy and crinkled up and you
needed a new one, you just needed to, you know, say the word and--boom--brand new napkin, right there in your hands. This is the kind of # nobody
really talked about out loud, you know? We didn’t want to jeopardize what we had. I certainly wasn’t about to go back to my old life of saltless
spaghetti and crinkled napkins.”
Other Buckeye players have stepped forward to back up the claims. Marco Cooper, a linebacker that was suspended after two drug arrests, enjoyed many
of the same benefits. His taped interview was aired last night on Sportscenter.
“When we was playing for the Buckeyes, there was just an understanding that we would, you know, get the stuff we needed,” said Cooper. “Yea, we
all got to enjoy those dinners, with all that ketchup and salt and napkins and stuff. But there was more than that. I’m tellin you, there was a lot
more. Like when I showed up to my first day of practice, they had a helmet and shoulder pads already waitin for me.”
Cooper said that all padding was provided free by the Ohio State athletic department and that he was never asked to pay for it.
“Nice looking helmet, pads, knee pads, them shiny gray pants and that red shirt. Man, the shirt even had my name on it! I knew right then I’d be
living the high life. I don’t know where they was coming from, but they were just there. You’d just go up to the equipment guy and tell him your
size, and he’d look at you, wink, and then the next thing you know you’ve got full pads and a uniform. The only thing they asked us to pay for was
our cleats, but I stole mine from Footlocker so it didn’t matter.”
The latest round of allegations has the university rushing to do damage control. Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger denied all charges and even
invited an NCAA representative to come to the school and conduct an investigation.
“These ugly allegations could not be more false,” said Geiger. “To suggest that anyone in our football program is giving or receiving special
treatment is a slap in the face to this university and its supporters. I can assure you Mr. Tressell never arranged any illegal salt-passing to Mr.
Clarett, or any other players. If any player needed salt during a team dinner, they would have to get it themselves, or just enjoy a bland, if
nutritious, spaghetti dinner.”
Coach Tressell also released a statement asserting his innocence and offering assistance with the investigation.
“I have never, at any time, provided illegal assistance or preferential treatment to any of my players,” said Tressell.“Maurice is a troubled
young man who is trying to blame this university for problems that are largely his own making. I can state unequivocally that he has never received
napkins, salt, ketchup, or any other condiment from me or any member of my staff. We also did not provide them with hookers. I know you didn’t ask
but I’m telling you anyway. A hooker named Jenna from the club ‘Perfect 10’s’ was never, ever delivered to the door of Maurice Clarett on his
birthday by me and my brother, Dick. I just thought I’d throw that in there. Thank you.”