Mailbox: Ohio State is now a pro football team; school's NIL dealings don't feel right – The Columbus Dispatch

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To the editor: Columbus has always wanted a professional football team, and now it has one in our beloved Buckeyes. Players Stroud, Henderson, Smith-Njigba and Burke will be paid over a half million dollars by The Foundation to share their football prowess with us. Congratulations to them for cashing in. May I suggest in addition to their regular football statistics we add a column for pay for pass, catch and tackle to see whether that are earning their pay as student athletes?
Michael Oser, Columbus
To the editor: I’m a B school grad and retired businessman so I understand the concept of leverage. Still, I wish I could grasp how Brian Schottenstein and his foundation are doing more good for charities by paying players to show up at events rather than give the charities a half million in donations directly as he claimed in Monday’s article. If this notion can be made clear, I might be less suspicious of the “good” that NIL deals are doing.
When you’re finished with that one, I’d also like to know how a fat cat gets a charitable gift tax deduction for the money used to pay said players for hawking footwear and furniture. 
Bob Moorehead, Columbus
To Brian: With NIL, transfers and realignment, my old friend college football sure is getting hard to recognize. We’ve sure gotten a long way from amateur student-athletes participating in extracurricular activity. The bar for academic eligibility had already been set really low a long time ago. But now I wonder when they justify totally ignoring that altogether since these players have so many demands on them now for game preparation and endorsement obligations. I used to say that nothing in Columbus would ever be more important than an amateur football team; but it’s a real stretch now to still call them amateurs. 
Dennis Singleton, Dayton
To Michael, Bob, Dennis: The NIL world is becoming far more unpredictable than even the naysayers predicted. It’s the wild west, with no enforcement guide. The latest news this week came when it was announced that each Texas Tech football player – 85 scholarship players and 15 walk-ons – will receive a one-year, $25,000 renewable NIL deal from a donor collective. Your move, Mr. Schottenstein.
To BrianChanges in the Big Ten and college football (expansion, NIL, transfer portal, salaries), make me long for the days of intact conferences, bowl games without commercial attachments (some 25+ meaningless ones), and Saturday-only games, giving less attention to money, recruiting and early leave. NIL can potentially be divisive among players as it already is among fans. I thought football’s highest honor was producing men of character, future leaders – not Jumbotron idols impersonating Marcel Marceau in the end zone. (Oh, yes, that’s the NFL).  And I have no problem with the Buckeyes losing a game now and then because (past) adversity prepared them for better results ahead.
Present expansion has done little for the Big Ten, Penn State having the only success.  This latest Pac-12 desertion will only make things less special, including the Rose Bowl. And what’s the fallout on conferences left behind?  Borrowing a previous term from Columbus Monthly, it is “wretched excess.” Overall, the experiment isn’t working, especially with schools changing conferences. The networks keep it afloat.  Playing top teams more often is like having too much of the same thing.  You eventually lose interest and need something more to satisfy the craving.
There were better, choices for drawing fans and increasing revenue. Sometimes, less is more. Count me in the minority.
Larry Cheek, Dublin
Dear Brian: Kudos to Bill Rabinowitz for his article on the OSU linebackers. The linebacker problem isn’t new – the last great linebacking squad was A.J.Hawk, Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel in 2004. Remember the days when OSU had legendary linebackers: Spielman, Laurinaitis, Gradishar, Cousineau, Wilhelm, just to name a few. Coach Day made the right decision to replace most of the defensive coaching staff (excluding the valuable Larry Johnson). I hope that defensive coordinator Knowles will address the issues facing the Buckeyes: better recruiting, more aggressiveness and. foremost, better tackling. It will take time, but I’m optimistic that the defense will improve.
Susan Sanville, Worthington
To Susan (and all): Thanks for the (rare) kind words. And if you want more from Bill and his cohort on the OSU football beat, sign up for our new text group with them. It’s free to subscribers and you’ll get behind-the-scenes thoughts and developments as well as breaking news. Sign up here.
To Brian: Enjoy your column from the shrinking Columbus Disgrace, the former respected Columbus newspaper.
I know that sports news is usually late now because of location of printing and composition of paper, but I will let you be first to know that the Masters is coming in April, and that Tiger did not make the cut in the British Open.
By the way, in answer to your defense of covering the Brittney Griner stupidity. I believe that our president, whether he is lucid or not, should be working to release other political  prisoners who have been held much longer than Griner and are much more important than she.
Some did nothing at all, and Griner, after all, did break the law.
Keep up the good work!
Larry Hood, Worthington
To Larry: Thanks for the email of the week. It’s always a treat to get criticized and praised in the same letter. And with humor, even. I don’t know if I should go to my boss and ask for a raise or to be fired.
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