Last week I had the fortunate opportunity to ask former Ohio State Buckeye great and Chicago Bears legend Doug Plank a few questions about the recent tumultuous activity at his Alma mater. I also asked him some questions about the NFL. Plank graduated from Ohio State in 1975 and played for the legendary Woody Hayes. He spent 2010 as a volunteer assistant coach for the Buckeyes under then coach Jim Tressel and spent his entire 8 year NFL career with the Chicago Bears. Currently he is a member of the NSCA scouting team.
Check out what Doug had to say about Ohio State, the NFL and college football.
We Got This Covered - With so many high profile college programs (Auburn, Texas, North Carolina, USC, Tennessee, and Ohio State) all in the news recently for breaking NCAA rules, do you think this will put a strain on the game?
Doug Plank - I do not think these infractions are a strain on the game. In most cases, it does not involve impacting the teams on the field. In the case of scholarships and not being allowed to be ranked, I think it has some effect. Most fans around the country can not tell the difference each Saturday which teams on the field are playing with NCAA infractions. Most staffs now realize that the cover up is usually worse than the infraction. In college, it is best to be honest and identify any infractions and make them public before they are discovered by third party sources.
WGTC - As a former Buckeye, what is your take on the recent allegations that Terrell Pryor made tens of thousands of dollars on his autographs and memorabilia?
DP – Pryor traded Ohio State football items for tattoos. I do not think it has been proven that he received cash payments. College players are in a difficult position to secure disposable income once they begin their college career. Once your career begins in college, you are limited in receiving money. You never have time off to work and save money for incidental costs like weekend meals and entertainment. Most colleges require athletes to stay on campus and train during the summer months when players in the past worked and went home. It creates a situation where the student athlete has no spendable cash unless he receives money from home.
WGTC – Do you think it’s fair that a college team’s players can get a suspension, then simply turn pro rather than deal with the ramification of their actions?
DP – College rules are different than professional rules when it relates to money and considerations. What is illegal in college is allowed in professional sports. Colleges try to insure the amateur status of athletes. In pro sports, the rules are very similar to that of an average citizen. As long as you do not violate the law in that state, you will not have a problem. In pro sports, you can sell a personal item, be paid for an appearance, paid for autographs, and receive money for playing a sport. At this time, there is no penalty for violating NCAA rules and then becoming involved with pro sports. The only penalty would be if you decided to stay in college sports then you would be subject to college penalties. Most NCAA rules that are broken in college are not rules against society therefore the penalty would be kept within the college jurisdiction of that sport.
And one final question that touches on both Ohio State and the NFL.
WGTC – Chicago Bears fans love talking about coaches with “fire”, and you played for Woody Hayes at Ohio State, and Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan in Chicago, of the three, who was the most fiery?
DP - Without a doubt, the most fiery coach was Woody Hayes. His speeches would start slow and keep building. He would become engrossed in the speech and eventually hit something or break something. He definitely believed in his topics. He loved the United States of America and the people that defended our country. Mike Ditka was a great communicator and was responsible for keeping the players and coaches focused on winning games and becoming champions. Buddy Ryan was innovative and had the ability to make his players play beyond their physical ability. He was a master sergeant in the Army and he was a master sergeant in planning the attack on opposing defenses.
Thanks to Doug Plank for taking some of his time to answer a few questions.