The situation has not escaped Mike, the writer of Penn State blog and Badger Sports Fan favorite Black Shoe Diaries. Sez he:
Wisconsin freshman running back John Clay has been ruled acedemically ineligible. Brett Bielema says not so fast my friend. You know, I'm slowly losing respect for Brett Bielema. Players seem to keep avoiding suspensions. Guys who try to rip off opposing players legs and he does nothing. And we all know about his antics making a mockery of the rule books and good sportsmanship as he paces up and down the sideline with that smug grin on his face all proud of himself as if he just got away with stealing the teacher's apple right off her desk. You're on notice, Brett Bielema...not that I'm bitter or anything.
You know it's bad when a Penn State fan gets upset about the shabby treatment of a Michigan player. He then posts this, which makes me think he's actually referring to different guy named Bielema:
And speaking of Michigan, here's MGoBlog's one-sentence take on the situation:
anyone wondering why we didn't recruit this guy, here's your answer
Uhh ... OK. You don't think a star tailback like Clay is worth taking a chance on? You think he's too much of a project for your academic advisors? That's just like, your opinion, man.
The unfortunate thing is that John Clay is supposed to represent the Bielema difference: when there is a potential superstar playing football in the state of Wisconsin, don't bother recruiting him, because he's gonna be a Badger. Wisconsin fans aren't just excited about Clay because he could be a star tailback at a school that lives and dies by the run, but because he's symbolic of what a great football program should be doing -- that is, beating out Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan for a talented in-state recruit.
To be fair, Michigan wasn't in the game late for Clay, but they showed interest early in the process. They may have been spooked by the academics, sure. But the fact of the matter is that UW beat out other extraordinary schools to get this guy on board (and Ohio State said they would offer him, making the situation even more significant).
Instead, what we may be looking at is the first in a string of great football players with shaky off-the-field situations that UW tries to bring in, only to have some embarrassing situation arise as a result. I hope that's not the case, but it's a possibility. (Also embarrassing: check out what John Clay might mean in Japanese. Ugh.)
So what's it going to be? I'm hoping for great things but bracing for ugly. Either way, I think you can bank on John Clay missing the 2007 season -- but only because Bret Bielema said he might not.