Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – If you want to see the best tackle of
the college football season, don’t bother checking out footage of Arizona’s
upset of No. 2 Oregon on Thursday night, nor should you review tape of any
other program’s in-game action.
Instead, run an Internet search for one Anthony James Wunder.
Forget scouring numerous rosters from the FBS elite to junior college cellar
dwellers, because Wunder will not appear, and has never been part of his
school’s athletic highlights … until now.
Wunder has been identified as the thrill-seeking Ohio State student who dared
run onto the field during his team’s meeting with Cincinnati on Sept. 27 at
Ohio Stadium. A mechanical engineering student on scholarship at OSU, Wunder
had the privilege to meet former Buckeyes linebacker, Anthony Schlegel, up-
close and personal when the crafty assistant strength and conditioning coach
tracked down the intruder and body-slammed him to the ground.
With the help of an event staff member, Schlegel then ushered Wunder off the
field and to the ground again in an effort to restore order and perhaps earn
himself a guest spot on the next installment of WWE Raw.
Initially, Schlegel was hailed as a hero or sorts, bringing a quick end to one
of those incidents that gain too much traction these days on weekly sports
blooper reels. Sure, as a viewer of the moment many of us cheered the coach on
for his active participation in the festivities, even many of the OSU players
whooped and hollered on the sidelines, but the aftermath of the event is
beginning to take some unusual twists and turns.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, as if he doesn’t have enough on his plate
these days as he tries to direct a national powerhouse without its starting
quarterback and Heisman hopeful, Braxton Miller, now has to entertain
questions about the episode while also giving background on how he plans to
defeat Maryland this coming weekend.
“In all seriousness, I grabbed Anthony last night,” Meyer noted Monday. “I
appreciate him protecting our players. I would rather him not have a lawsuit
if something bad would happen, you drill a guy like that.
“So we had a partial serious conversation. And then we also gave him a Hit
City Award, our team, and had a little fun with it, too.”
In just a few short days Schlegel has become a cult hero, a mythical figure in
gridiron lore, an Internet sensation. The former Buckeye is getting more
attention for this singular event than he did during all of his playing days.
As for the offender, who may or may not have been under the influence of
alcohol during his ill-fated romp to infamy at The Horseshoe, he is far from
the urban legend that now is Schlegel. Obviously there are criminal charges
pending, a trespassing charge which is a misdemeanor that carries a sentence
of up to 30 days in jail.
In addition to navigating the legal system, Wunder will also have to endure
the pain of seeing his rowdy run over and over again, because as we all know,
once it is online it is there to stay. Certainly those penalties should be
enough, enough to make any other potential streaker in the future think twice
about the consequences.
But apparently that’s not enough, according to officials.
Wunder, who is in his fourth year of a five-year program, is on scholarship at
OSU, furnished by the Evans Scholars Foundation which gives academic awards to
college students who have served as golf caddies (insert “Caddyshack” joke
here). Because of the young man’s ill-fated appearance during the Ohio State-
Cincinnati contest, it appears as though his scholarship is in serious
jeopardy and he may soon earn himself another identifier, Anthony Wunder –
former OSU student.
The sponsoring Western Golf Association released a statement saying Wunder’s
Evans Scholars activities have been suspended, but he remains on scholarship
pending the outcome of its internal investigation.
“We are disappointed in Mr. Wunder’s actions,” the statement read.
It would be a heavy price to pay for a moment of indiscretion, but this could
be one of those times where setting an unprecedented example might curtail
future tomfoolery and really make people held accountable for their actions,
no matter what influences their questionable conduct.
Sounds like a drastic move, but I hear the world needs ditch diggers too.
However, if making this move to rescind a scholarship for breaking the law can
be applied to any one member of the student body, I just hope it applies to
everyone in the future, no matter if you are a mechanical engineering student
or a prized athlete. Treating student-athletes without kid gloves is long
overdue and something that OSU, of all institutions, should be mindful of
after the autographed memorabilia fiasco that plagued the football program and
Terrelle Pryor just a few years ago.
On scholarship himself, Pryor made a small fortune signing Buckeyes gear and
also selling his own personal OSU items, moves that were in clear violation of
NCAA rules. With all of the cash being moved during those transactions, I have
to think that taxes were not foremost on the mind of Pryor and some of his
teammates who also took part in the “business”. And yet, not only did Pryor
remain on the team, he was allowed to play in the season-ending Sugar Bowl on
Jan. 4, 2011.
Oh, Pryor was suspended for the first five games of the 2011 campaign, but
clearly he had no intentions of returning to the “scene of the crime” and
instead headed for the NFL in a round-about way through the supplemental
draft. The quarterback played a few unremarkable years for Oakland, was then
traded to Seattle after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl and subsequently cut.
If there is any consolation for Wunder, should he lose his scholarship, maybe
he will get to actually rub shoulders with an Ohio State legend one day,
working alongside Pryor in a venue far away from the bright lights of a big-
time football stadium.