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Hobbs Column: A breath of fresh air from a former OSU player

Last Modified: Thursday, September 12, 2013 8:27 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

If you’re wondering, other than a bruise to his reputation, there’s not likely much that can happen to LSU’s Les Miles in the wake of Sports Illustrated’s investigation into Oklahoma State, a good chunk of it focusing on Miles’ tenure from 2001-2004.

There’s a standard four-year statute of limitations on NCAA violations and, although there are exceptions, none of this stuff is likely to fall into any of those categories.

There could be distractions for the LSU team, but nobody handles those puppies like Miles does.

The story itself has become a mini-series.

There’s been money, Thursday it was drugs, today comes the juicy sex stories, surely to be followed by tales of rock-and-roll abuse.

Par for the course. It’s not like we’ve never seen this movie before. Can’t say I’m shocked by any of it, just a little weary of story after tale after anecdote of he said/he said, followed by the standard denial.

The magazine tends to get too sanctimonious when it has to draw conclusions and a lot of OSU’s defense right now has been to attack the messengers. Not a pretty sight.

But now in the midst of all this unpleasantness comes a breath of fresh air from a former OSU player who most Cowboys’ fans probably had never heard of.

But Russ Cornelius, a former OSU walk-on, a self-described “tackling dummy who never played a down,” seems to have to have put the whole thing — not just OSU, college football in general — in better perspective with a more realistic logic than all the administrators and journalists and fans who are currently cat-fighting and pointing fingers in all directions.

Cornelius penned an email that was sent to, and printed by, (Oklahoma City) Daily Oklahoman sports columnist Berry Trammel.

Cornelius’ basic premise: Yeah, stuff happens. Some big-time athletes get some special treatment. Shocking.

His conclusion: It isn’t one big orgy of cash, drugs, sex and rock and roll.

He likes Miles, and if anyone would have an ax to grind with Miles, it might be Cornelius.

Miles cut him from the team twice, once just before the season began after telling after spring workouts that he’d made the team.

“No hard feelings,” Cornelius wrote. “OSU was stacked at wide receiver and needed the roster spot.”

He also painted a different picture of Miles than the SI version, in which the head coach seemed oblivious to everything except production on the field.

Cornelius wrote:

“In meetings, he would say things like ‘be sure you are going to class, some of you need to get your grades up and I know finals are this week, make sure you are making time to prepare for that.’ He also yelled at the whole team and gave a speech about setting an example when some players got in trouble with campus police for stealing bikes. I honestly believe he cared about our academics and our character.”

Some, according to Cornelius, had the good character, some didn’t. Sort of like the rest of the world.

“Some boosters like to hand out cash to players and some don’t. The important thing to note here is that very rarely does a coach ever go to a booster and ask them to start ponying up cash to players. I never knew of this happening at OSU, and I don’t think it happens now. In fact, I don’t think that happens at very many programs. Boosters do it on their own, and players accept it on their own. When I was at OSU, coaches warned players about this type of thing. They asked us to be smart and not do anything to put our eligibility in question.”

Later in the email:

“They … trusted us as adults to make the right decision. This is where about 90 percent of the team does the right thing and makes the smart decision, and 10 percent do drugs, take cash, lie, cheat, steal, have bad attitudes during practice, and get themselves booted from the team.”

He never saw coaches deal with any money for players.

“If the cash would have been there, the coaches wouldn’t have been so cavalier about it and the players would have absolutely blabbed about it.”

The sex allegations will be out today, but Cornelius is ahead of it, again with a less than startling confession.

“Athletes get special treatment from the opposite sex. This has nothing to do with the school. It’s life … The program doesn’t enlist women to have sex with players because they don’t need to. That takes care of itself. Again, I’m so sorry. College kids have sex with each other and it’s probably easier for some athletes, if that’s what they want.”

But my favorite was when Cornelius basically said to be careful what you wish for when it comes to academics. There are smart players and not-so-smart players. Imagine that.

“They skip class and get away with it, people do their homework, and they get higher grades than they deserve. Some, not all. Some people are outraged to learn that some professors use the same test every semester, and those tests and their answers are available to athletes. Go to a fraternity house. Go to a dorm. Use the internet. Those things are available to anyone who wants them, athlete or not.

“You want your team to have the best players and let’s be honest, the best players aren’t always that smart. If you take away the academic special treatment from college sports, you get Princeton vs Harvard every Saturday. That might be fine for some, but it’s not Bedlam. You won’t get Alabama vs. A&M or Michigan vs. Ohio State.”

NOTE: To read the entire email, go to:

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Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at

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