Ohio State's Fate Rests on What NCAA Can Prove

Ohio State's Fate Rests on What NCAA Can Prove

Chuck Smrt didn't want me to come by. Even though his modest office in suburban Kansas City is only a few miles away, a visit to discuss even the outer edges of the Ohio State investigation wouldn't be prudent.

And not necessarily because of the Buckeyes. There are just too many sensitive files lying around.

"You might see the names of the schools," he said.

That might say more than anything about the current climate in college athletics. Smrt's business is booming because there is plenty of wrongdoing to go around. For 12 years, the former veteran NCAA investigator has run The Compliance Group, one of the firms considered the gold standard when it comes to guiding schools through NCAA investigations.

To this point in the Ohio State case, he has done one hell of a job if you're a Buckeye. Smrt, and the school, have seemingly isolated the case to a rogue coach and a handful of knuckleheaded players. Jim Tressel has been fired or retired, depending on your semantics. Star quarterback Terrelle Pryor quit knowing he wouldn't have been eligible this fall.

When Ohio State and Smrt go into the Indiana Ballroom of the Indianapolis downtown Marriott on Friday morning, they hope to be metaphorical police in the final stages of cleaning up a wreck. Waving on traffic saying, "Nothing to see here, move on."

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