With all due respect to Andy Katzenmoyer, Pandel Savic and the rest of the most recent class of inductees into the Ohio State Athletic Hall of Fame, it has always seemed a bit strange that the school’s all-time leading passer remains on the outside looking in.
Your powers of deduction don’t have to be much to figure how why Art Schlichter remains a hall of fame outsider. Nothing besmirches a reputation quite like a decade-long stretch in prison for a much-publicized gambling addiction.
In 1977, the athletic department, in cooperation with the Varsity “O” Alumni Association, established the hall of fame. According to the Varsity “O” constitution and bylaws, the hall was established “to pay tribute and extend the recognition to those individuals who through the years have contributed to the honor and fame of The Ohio State University in the field of Athletics, and who have continued to demonstrate, in their daily lives, the values learned in Intercollegiate Athletics.”
There are several specific qualifications for nomination to the hall and Schlichter meets nearly every one of them. It has been five years or more since the graduation of his class, he earned the minimum of one varsity letter, and his records are so outstanding that there is no question as to the qualifications necessary for induction.
Schlichter continues to be Ohio State’s career leader in passing yardage despite the fact he played his final game in scarlet and gray more than a quarter-century ago and passing attacks have evolved greatly since his career ended. By way of comparison, Schlichter’s career total of 7,547 yards is more than Rex Kern, Kirk Herbstreit and Cornelius Greene – combined.
Additionally, he remains the only quarterback in school history ever to have a 400-yard passing day, shares the single-game mark for completions at 31 and is just one off the all-time career record with 497 completions.
Perhaps he falls short in the interpretation of Chapter VIII, Section 3, Paragraph F of the hall of fame qualifications, which reads, “Consideration shall be given for personal conduct in life and personal contributions to the high ideals of Intercollegiate Athletics.”
Then again, the final sentence of the preceding Paragraph E reads, “The selections shall be on merit only and never of a political nature.”
If it’s contrition the Varsity “O” hall of fame board wants, Schlichter has issued a number of apologies over the years. Surrendering his freedom for so many years, not to mention the toll his gambling addiction inflicted upon his family, was also an expensive price to pay.
No one knows if Schlichter can continue to handle his addiction and lead a productive life. From all indications, he is making a supreme effort. He gives regular talks on the evils of gambling, provides counseling for others who are haunted by the same demons, and has co-authored a new book on his life titled, “Busted: The Rise and Fall of Art Schlichter.”
Public perception on how Schlichter’s problems may have somehow sullied the university’s reputation really isn’t the point. When you’re part of a family, you’re supposed to forgive. It seems to me it’s time to welcome Schlichter back into the fold and find room in the OSU Athletic Hall of Fame for the greatest quarterback in school history.
Today’s Buckeye birthday belongs to former basketball co-captain Je’Kel Foster, who turns 26.
Born July 22, 1983, in Natchez, Miss., Foster was star for his hometown high school team before playing one year at Howard Junior College in Big Spring, Texas, and one year at Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla. At Chipola in 2004, Foster was the Florida JUCO player of the year after averaging 17 points, 5.5 assists and 5.1 rebounds. He played for the Buckeyes in 2005 and ’06, serving as team co-captain for the 2006 squad that won the school’s first outright Big Ten championship in 14 years. Foster finished his two-year career as a Buckeye with averages of 10.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Foster is currently in his fourth season playing pro basketball in Europe and beginning his second year with a team in Oldenburg, Germany. Last season, he averaged 12.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in the German league and sank the game-winning free throw to lift Oldenburg to its first championship ever.
Foster is joined by a host of celebrities celebrating birthdays this 22nd day of July: former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole is 86; film and TV actor Orson Bean is 81; fashion designer Oscar De la Renta is 77; Oscar-winning actress Louise Fletcher (Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”) is 75; novelist Tom Robbins (“Even Cowgirls Get The Blues”) is 73; Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek is 69; funkmaster George Clinton is 68; Triple Crown winning jockey Ron Turcotte is 68; U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) is 66; Sixties teen heartthrob Bobby Sherman is 66; Supertramp co-founder and keyboardist Rick Davies is 65; former MLB reliever Albert “Sparky” Lyle is 65; actor/activist Danny Glover is 63; screenwriter Paul Schrader (“Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull” and “Auto Focus”) is 63; Palau President Johnson Toribiong is 63; comic actor Albert Brooks is 62; Eagles co-founder Don Henley is 62; Oscar and Tony winning composer Alan Menken is 60; four-time Olympic gold medal distance runner Lasse Virén is 60; film and stage actor Willem Dafoe is 54; seven-time MLB All-Star MLB pitcher Dave Stieb is 52; Indigo Girls singer/musician Emily Saliers is 46; film and stage actor John Leguizamo is 45; comic actor and Saturday Night Live alum David Spade is 45; pro wrestler Shawn Michaels (born Michael Shawn Hickenbottom is 44; 1987 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown is 43; former NFL receiver Keyshawn Johnson is 37; singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright is 36; 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon is 29; and St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson is 26.
YOUR REPUTATION PRECEDES YOU
An online sports betting service, BetUS.com Sportsbook, posted odds recently on the colleges most likely to commit the next major violation. Winning the dubious honor was USC with odds of 8-to-1. It was unclear if the website actually meant the program “most likely to commit the next NCAA violation” or “the next program most likely to be found guilty of major violations.” In that case, USC is a no-brainer with the Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo cases pending.
Next on the list with 9-to-1 odds? Ohio State.
The Buckeyes were followed by Florida, Memphis and Ole Miss at 10-to-1, with North Carolina, Connecticut, Michigan State and Florida State each at 12-to-1.
BetUS.com Sportsbook claimed it included football and basketball programs in determining its odds.
AND FINALLY …
** Based upon what I know right this second, it’s going to be awfully difficult for me to cast my Heisman vote for anyone else but Tim Tebow. His Florida team – at least on paper – looks very much capable of marching to another national championship. If that happens, I don’t know how you keep the trophy out of Tebow’s hands.
** If the Gators do win the title this year, they would become only the third team to win three championships in four years since the wire services became the authority on such matters in 1936. The others are Notre Dame (1946-47, ’49) and Nebraska (1994-95, ’97).
** Head-scratcher of the week? Iowa extending head coach Kirk Ferentz’s contract through the 2015 season at more than $3 million per year. Ferentz is a solid coach and a solid guy, but what exactly makes him worth three mil? In his 10 seasons, the Hawkeyes have no outright Big Ten championships (they have shared the title twice) and averaged only seven wins per year. Easy math tells you that if your team is averaging only seven victories, it’s also averaging five losses. Three million bucks for an average record of 7-5 every year seems a bit steep.
** Speaking of coaching contracts, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops – the guy working on a five-game losing streak in BCS contests – is also getting a new deal. Stoops’ new contract calls for the university to pay him (bonuses included) more than $30 million through the end of 2015. That computes to an annual average of about $5 million.
** Stoops’ compensation begs this question: If he’s worth $5 million, how much is Florida going to have to pony up if Urban Meyer wins another national championship this year? In case you wondered, Meyer’s current contract pays him $3.25 million per year. That’s pretty good but only third highest in his own league. Nick Saban of Alabama ($3.9 million) and Les Miles of LSU ($3.75 million) make more.
** As if you didn’t already know, college football is right around the corner. Watch lists for 10 of the major awards are scheduled to be announced on ESPN’s College Football Live show beginning Aug. 3. The watch lists for the awards will be announced one per day at 3:30 p.m. Eastern for two weeks.
** To say the College Football Hall of Fame likes to stretch its induction ceremonies would be a bit of an understatement. Last Sunday, more than a year after it was first announced, the 2009 class of inductees was finally and formally enshrined into the hall during ceremonies in South Bend, Ind. It was nice to see Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George in attendance to help celebrate the induction of former Ohio State head coach John Cooper.
** Army and Notre Dame have announced they will play one another in the new Yankee Stadium on Nov. 20, 2010. It is the first college football game scheduled for the new facility, located right across from the original.
** Did you know that Walter Cronkite got his start by covering high school and college football games for his hometown newspaper? He did so while growing up in the Houston area and continued after he attended the University of Texas. In 1937, he got his start in radio by broadcasting Oklahoma football games.