Ohio State certainly doesn’t need Chase Young to beat Maryland on Saturday. The Buckeyes are 8-0, currently sitting at the top of the College Football Playoff Rankings, while the Terrapins are 3-6.
It’s a testament to the wide gulf between these conference foes that Ohio State’s status as a whopping 43.5 point favorite was unchanged by the prospective absence of the country’s best defensive player.
But the Buckeyes won’t be facing pushovers forever, and Young sitting out on Saturday “due to a possible NCAA issue from 2018 ” raises the possibility that his college football career might already be over.
Shortly after Ohio State announced Chase Young would miss the Maryland game, he took to social media to explain the reason for his absence. Apparently, the potential NCAA compliance issue at hand stems from a loan the star pass-rusher received last year from a longtime “family friend.”
Young’s attorney, Tim Nevius, subsequently confirmed his client’s account . He criticized the NCAA for “unfair and outdated rules” that “punish athletes for making ends meet while enriching everyone else.” Based on that information alone, Young and the Buckeyes might have done enough to placate the notoriously-rigid NCAA by holding him out on Saturday.
The problem for Ohio State is that multiple reports have since surfaced, clarifying the relationship between Young and the person who gave him the loan. If the “family friend” in question is indeed an agent, Young and the Buckeyes could be forced to make difficult decisions about how to proceed.
Ohio State suddenly finds itself between a rock and a hard place. If reports are correct that the person who loaned Young money is an agent, there’s a chance the NCAA will vacate each victory accrued after he accepted the loan, dashing the Buckeyes’ dreams of a national championship.
In the past, it’s been commonplace for teams facing eligibility scrutiny to exercise self-discipline before an official ruling is rendered. Ohio State took that first step by electing to sit Young against Maryland, and could find it prudent to rule him out indefinitely in hopes of lessening the NCAA’s final penalty.
One problem: The Buckeyes face a tough back-to-back against Penn State and Michigan to close out the regular season. Can Ohio State really beat such formidable opponents in consecutive weeks without its best player?
It’s become en vogue over recent seasons for top-tier NFL prospects to end their college careers early, watching bowl games from the sidelines to ensure their health leading up to the draft.
With the Buckeyes potentially incurring significant sanctions from the NCAA, Young foregoing the remainder of the season to focus on preparation for the NFL Draft could be the best outcome for both parties. Analysts consistently grade him as the top prospect in next year’s class , leaving him with nothing left to prove at the college level.
Making this situation extra frustrating for Young is that last month, the NCAA voted to begin the process of allowing athletes to profit from their likeness. If he was two years younger, those updated rules might have ensured he would never have needed to accept a small loan to “cover basic life expenses” in the first place.
Young never asked to make a statement on amateurism, serving as the latest martyr in protest of the NCAA’s draconian rules. But with both his career and the Buckeyes’ title hopes in unavoidable jeopardy, Young’s best course of action is ending his college career, immediately beginning to profit the way he deserves – and undoubtedly will in April, when he hears his name called at the top of the NFL Draft.