COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In the 121 years that Ohio State has been playing football, there probably haven't been many offseasons with so many lingering questions.
Usually, a finish like the white-knuckle, 31-26 victory over Arkansas in Tuesday night's Sugar Bowl would be enough to keep Buckeyes fans warm and giddy all through the remainder of a cold winter.
Yet despite that capper to a 12-1 season, the status of the "Tattoo Five" leads matters to be dealt with before the 2011 season opener on Sept. 3 vs. Akron.
Four junior starters -- quarterback Terrelle Pryor, tailback Dan "Boom" Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey and left tackle Mike Adams, along with Sugar Bowl star Solomon Thomas, a backup defensive end -- have been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling rings, uniforms and awards and getting discounts on tattoos.
The athletic department is appealing to the NCAA and get the suspensions cut, although there is some criticism of the NCAA in allowing the five to play in the Sugar Bowl.