News and PR Insights from 5W Public Relations CEO Ronn Torossian

OSU Star Out While Team Takes Run at Playoff

Just days after the first college football playoff ranking came out, the NCAA was rocked by the news that one of the best players on one of the best teams in all of college football may not be eligible to play.

Ohio State defensive end Chase Young was said to be facing a two-game suspension – and potentially more – just as his team was headed into the home stretch of the season that would determine if OSU received a playoff bid. The infraction? Accepting a personal loan, something NCAA players are expressly forbidden.

Media swarmed. Would the upcoming game against Rutgers prove to be a spoiler? No one really thought so, but that didn’t stop the questions or the finger pointing. Suddenly, a young man who was accustomed to letting his play on the field do all the talking faced the harsh lights of the voracious national sports media. What would he say, and how would he play it? Turns out, he would play it pretty well.

Young faced the cameras and owned up to accepting the loan, and then he offered clear context which, he believes, exonerates him from any wrongdoing. He explained, first via Twitter and then in subsequent conversations, that he did, indeed, accept a small loan from a family friend. Young followed this admission by stating emphatically that he paid back the small loan, so this should not be an issue.

But here’s where things get sticky…

The NCAA has a history of playing these kinds of situations all over the board. Sometimes, they offer leniency. Sometimes, they throw the book at young men who just want to play ball. Young understood that whatever they decided was out of his hands. He still needed to do the right thing. Take responsibility and protect his team.

The absolute last thing, other than a major injury to a key player, that OSU needs right now is a media firestorm distracting it’s players from their on-the-field jobs. The end of the college football season is a grueling test, the competition is incredibly high, and these players have to be focused to be at their best.

For Young to come out, admit a small mistake, own up, and say it’s already been taken care of, should put a quick cork in this potential PR powder keg. Had he come out, denied the incident, claimed innocence and pitched a fit on social media, as some players have done in the past, the issue would be headline news all the way to the first playoff game. Instead, it will be top of the cycle for sports programs and shows for a few days, then disappear… unless the NCAA really comes down on Young with both boots. Not likely, given the PR firestorm that kind of move would make.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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