Allow us to recap how we got here real quickly and then we'll jump to Bo Pelini's actions of today....
- A few years back a star high school football player (Ma'lik Richmond) raped a high school female (video of is disgusting act was shared on social media).
- Richmond was convicted of rape and served less than a year due to fact that he wasn't 18 at the time of the act.
- Richmond then finished high school and attended two different colleges before deciding to enroll at Youngstown State last year. [Note, Richmond did not play football at either of the two other colleges.]
- Bo Pelini, upon learning Richmond was on campus, recruited him to join the team.
- In early August the public learned that Pelini had welcomed Richmond onto the team....and the public outcry was substantial. An online petition quickly garnered over 10,000 signatures. ESPN, Fox, CNN, FootballScoop, USA Today and others all ran pieces pointing out how painful seeing Richmond cheered on by thousands of fans would be for rape & sexual assault victims across the country.
- The pain & pressure was felt locally at Youngstown State, with numerous Board of Trustees turning to Jim Tressel to do the right thing. According to sworn statement in a lawsuit (we'll get to that shortly), the pressure was overbearing from all fronts to not allow this convicted rapist to represent Youngstown State on the football field.
- AD Ron Strollo met with Richmond's legal guardians, telling them he suggested a "developmental redshirt", meaning that Richmond could be part of the team; but would not play this season. Richmond wanted to play and Pelini supported him.
- Ultimately, University President Jim Tressel stepped in and made the decision that the University would not allow Richmond to play in games this season.
- Upon learning of this news, Richmond quit the team. He packed his bags and went home to Steubenville Ohio.
- When he left, Bo Pelini rounded up an assistant coach and several players and drove to Steubenville and begged Richmond to return to the team telling him not only could he be a starter but comparing him favorably to a player the New England Patriots had just drafted.
[Shortly thereafter, Richmond's father ambushed and shot a judge (his father was killed in the subsequent firefight).]
We learned Thursday that Richmond, while away from the team (remember, he quit, no one told him he could not be part of the team), has filed a federal lawsuit requesting to be allowed to play this year. The presiding judge issued a temporary order, saying that while the case is under review, Richmond should not be banned from playing...unless the coach decides not to play him.
Over the past two days since this news broke, several coaches from around the country have reached out to me to say things such as, "No chance Pelini plays that kid. AD told him not to. Tressel told him not to. Basically entire country told him not to." and "If Bo plays that kid, he's giving the finger to every young lady at Youngstown, heck to every young lady in the country".
Quite simply, there is no way Bo Pelini should play Richmond.
Pelini's squad is loaded with talent. They took Pitt to OT in week 1 and easily dispatched Robert Morris in week 2. They were expected to handle Central Connecticut State easily today. No Reason To Play Richmond, bringing unrelenting negative attention on Youngstown State from all corners....
But, up 52-6 in the third quarter, Bo Pelini called Richmond's number, inserting him into a meaningless two quarters of football. Richmond played the rest of the game, recording two tackles.
Was Pelini "giving the finger" to his administration who didn't want to play the convicted rapist? Was Pelini giving Youngstown State's Board of Trustees the finger in dismissing their direction? Was Pelini giving the finger to every young lady on Youngstown State's campus? Heck, was he giving the finger to every young lady in the country?
We'll let you be the judge.
In playing Richmond, Pelini has put his administration into a very challenging situation. First, every administration publicly backs their coach. They have to. The issue here is, in doing so in this case, they play right into Richmond's lawsuit. Aye, yay yay... What a mess. Not to mention, by playing Richmond tonight, in meaningless minutes no less, Pelini's actions will once again bring massive negative public attention on Youngstown State University.
Pelini's response when asked about his decision following the game, "You have to be happy for the kid. This isn't about me."
Yes, Bo, you made the convicted rapist happy. In doing so though, how many people though did you anger?
We'll close where we started yesterday with the question every Youngstown State alum has to be asking themselves tonight, "Oh Bo Pelini, why did you do this?".