Ohio State players facing five-game suspensions next season would not have traveled with the team to the Sugar Bowl if they had not pledged to return in 2011, head coach Jim Tressel said on Thursday.
The five players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, have been punished by the NCAA for selling championship rings and memorabilia and taking discounts from a tattoo parlor.
Tressel said he wanted to make sure that the players wouldn’t “skirt the consequences” by playing in the Sugar Bowl, then declaring for the NFL draft and avoiding any punishment.
“We told them they would have to make the decision on the NFL prior to leaving for the bowl game,” Tressel said at his first Sugar Bowl news conference. “It wouldn’t be fair to not face the consequences down the road.”
Heisman Trophy finalist LaMichael James, a sophomore running back at Oregon and the nation’s leading rusher this season, announced he would return to the Ducks and not enter the NFL draft. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen has agreed to a four-year, $10.6 million contract extension. Michigan backup quarterback Tate Forcier is academically ineligible for the Gator Bowl against No. 21 Mississippi State. Jacory Harris will be Miami’s starting quarterback in the Sun Bowl against Notre Dame because Stephen Morris is nursing an ankle sprain. Boise State assistant head coach Brent Pease is the new offensive coordinator at Indiana.