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Column: It’s time to reinstate the wins from the 2010 Ohio State football season

Schools that had more serious scandals have had vacated wins returned, so there’s no reason to punish the 2010 Ohio State football team any longer.

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Ohio State v Arkansas Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

With NIL regulations going into effect this week, it is time for the vacated wins of the 2010 season to be reinstated. We all watched the Buckeyes go 12-1 that season and defeated Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. The record books tell a different story though, as Ohio State is shown as going 0-1 during the 2010, with the only game counted being a loss to Wisconsin.

I totally understand that at the time what Ohio State’s players and head coach Jim Tressel did was against NCAA rules. Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, and others were found to have signed autographs in exchange for tattoos, as well as selling memorabilia that was given to them by the university. Tressel was aware of these violations and failed to report them to the NCAA. Tressel eventually ended up resigning as head coach.

After a little more than a decade, it has become even more evident just how much of a joke the punishments were. Now players can become a “Barstool Athlete” or shill for College Hunks Hauling Junk, but trading your ink on a picture for some ink on your body a decade ago is still apparently a no-no. Want to sell those Gold Pants that you earned on the field? Better think twice about that.

I know the biggest problem with the whole “scandal” was Jim Tressel lying to Ohio State and the NCAA about what he knew. Let’s not pretend that college coaches haven’t claimed ignorance on worse matters since then. Bobby Petrino hired his mistress and gave her $20k, and we probably only found out about it because he crashed his motorcycle when they were out riding. Petrino was fired from Arkansas but he somehow has coached at three schools since then.

Ohio State Spring Football Preview with Coach Jim Tressel Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Now if Joe Paterno can get 111 wins restored, there’s no reason why Ohio State can’t have 12 wins from 2010 given back to them. Paterno knowingly employed Jerry Sandusky, who sexual abused children, and did nothing to stop Sandusky even when presented with concerns from many others over the years. Instead, I guess because Paterno was a senile old man, he gets the benefit of the doubt.

Aside from the Michigan game and the Sugar Bowl, it’s not even really about the wins being restored. What I just don’t want to see is Tressel, Pryor, and others vilified for their actions. While it was all technically illegal in the eyes of the NCAA then, now it’s fine for players to profit off their name, image, and likeness. Really the Buckeyes were just ahead of the curve.

What has been the toughest thing that came out of “Tatgate” has been that Terrelle Pryor really hasn’t gotten the recognition that he deserves from the university. All Pryor did in his three years in Columbus was lead the Buckeyes to three BCS bowls, winning two of them. Prior to Justin Fields, there could be an argument for Pryor being the best quarterback in school history. It’d be interesting to see how things would have played out if Pryor hadn’t been suspended heading into the 2011 season and decided to enter the NFL’s Supplemental Draft instead.

Akron v Ohio State Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

One of the biggest “What ifs?” in college football could be what would have happened had there been NIL regulations in place a decade ago. Ohio State lost six games in 2011 by seven points or less. The Buckeyes were a shell of what they could have been, as they started Joe Bauserman to open the season before eventually handing the starting quarterback job over to Braxton Miller. Had Pryor and Tressel been back in 2011, there’s a real possibility that the Buckeyes would have challenged for a national title. Ohio State might also hold a 16-game winning streak over Michigan right now.

It’s not that the Buckeyes were severely setback by the “scandal”, since they went on to hire Urban Meyer and win a national title. In fact, “Tatgate” might be one of the best things to happen to Ohio State as strange as it sounds, since who knows how long Tressel stays at Ohio State, how recruiting shakes out, and who takes over after “The Sweatervest” decides to retire. It just shouldn’t be a mark on the legacy of Tressel, Pryor, and all those that were involved anymore.