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Sankey, much like Haden, was not about to compare USC and Ohio State.

“From the committee’s perspective it, assessed the penalties related to the facts and circumstances of this case,” he said.

The fact is, if Ohio State received anything less than the USC treatment it was going to be viewed by many as a slap on the wrist.

Ohio State fans can argue that no matter how many misguided public comments were made by athletic director Gene Smith and Gee, the only person at the school who stood in the way of the investigation was Tressel. And Ohio State got rid of him.

“I think we stumbled out of the gate,” Gee said Tuesday night. “We gathered and put together a good approach and from that point on I think that we’ve done very well.

Ohio State uncovered the violations by Tressel and involving the booster, and self-imposed penalties.

USC, it can be argued, was not as forthcoming or proactive. And in the NCAA’s book, there is no more egregious sin.

So while coach Lane Kiffin and USC, which has already served its postseason ban, head toward a murky future because of scholarship reductions that won’t really kick in for several years, Ohio State faces a far less daunting hurdle.

It will no doubt sting next year when Meyer’s first team can’t compete for a Big Ten title. Those bowl practices will be missed, too, as he builds toward Year 2.

The loss of nine scholarships over a three period will be a nuisance, but it won’t bring down the Buckeyes.

“The NCAA penalties will serve as a reminder that the college experience does not include the behavior that led to these penalties,” Meyer said in a statement. “I expect all of us to work hard to teach and develop young student-athletes to grow responsibly and to become productive citizens in their communities upon graduation.”

A case can also be made that as successful as Tressel was, Meyer is an upgrade.

At the end of this sordid affair, the damage done to Ohio State is mostly superficial. Its reputation has been tarnished, its leaders embarrassed.

But it’s not like that will keep Meyer from adding to the trophy case at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

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