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OSU, Miami do battle while trying to clean up tarnished reputations

Miami coach Al Golden (left) Ohio State coach Luke Fickell have cleanup jobs do their programs aren’t as talented as

Miami coach Al Golden (left) and Ohio State coach Luke Fickell have cleanup jobs to do, and their programs aren’t as talented as they once were. | Patrick Semansky~AP (Golden), Jay LaPrete~AP

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Time: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN
Records: Ohio State 2-0, Miami 0-1.
The line: Miami by 2. Cowley’s pick: Ohio State 28-24.

Updated: November 30, 2011 12:16AM

Life was much easier when an injury list dictated which players were in uniform, which were in street clothes.

Then along comes Ohio State at Miami on Saturday night, and forget injuries. Let’s get the latest glimpse of that suspended list.

At last check, “The U’’ was getting back linebacker Sean Spence, defensive end Adewale Ojomo, defensive tackle Marcus Forston and quarterback Jacory Harris.

The Ohio State University’’ had Jordan Hall, Travis Howard and Corey Brown reinstated Tuesday.

Convicts vs. Catholics? Not even close. Try Convicts vs. Convicts. Saturday night might as well be a Mean Machine intrasquad game.

Welcome to “The Unholy Bowl.’’

At least that’s the national perception — right or wrong — as college football fans try to throw their arms around the reality of the rampant cheating that has overshadowed both programs this summer. Dark clouds that made boosters gone wild such as Nevin Shapiro and “Bobby’’ DiGeronimo household names.

We’re all smarter for knowing exactly what has been going on for years under the cloak of “student-athlete,’’ and dumber for not realizing the extent of it.

That’s what Ohio State and Miami are fighting right now.

The scoreboard will go a long way in showing us which team is better on the field when the clock winds down, but the battle for both is getting out from under a perception that these programs have been spiraling out of control.

That’s the struggle for both coaches, as well, and one they have to address on an almost-daily basis.

“We are not going to,’’ Buckeyes coach Luke Fickell said in his weekly teleconference when asked how all of this can’t be a distraction. “We can’t allow our guys to. I don’t know that it is; really I don’t. We don’t talk about it. We don’t dwell upon it. When things come up, I think, you know, they can be a distraction for a minute.

“We hope and we think that this is what the game is all about, to be able to handle adversity. We believe it’s going to make us stronger in the long run as long as we continue to handle it in the right way and communicate better in every aspect that we can. But it comes from the top down. We can’t let it affect me so that we can’t let it affect them, as well.’’

Translation from coach-speak: How the heck did we get in this mess?

Winning is the quickest way out.

South Beach wants nothing more than to see “The U’’ return to being “The U’’ of the 1980s and ’90s.

Buckeye Nation would like to keep its Big Ten dominance from the last decade alive and well.

The reality, however, is not only are both schools’ reputations tarnished, but they just aren’t as talented as they once were.

When you go into a game between two storied programs, and you can count on likely seeing four quarterbacks, that’s never a good thing.

That’s also another headache that Fickell and Miami coach Al Golden share.

“I’m sure if I sat down with [Golden] and had the opportunity to talk to him, we could share some serious ideas,’’ Fickell said, “but I don’t imagine he’s got a whole lot of time to spend on worrying about what’s going on here at Ohio State, and I really don’t have a whole lot of time to sit down and think about what’s going on there.’’

Maybe there will be time for that at the end of the season.

Until then, cleaning up the sins of a program is a full-time job.

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