Blacklisted by OSU, Talbott Now Works MGOBLUE

UPDATE (Sept. 21, 2011, 12:36am PT): The ASSOCIATED PRESS corrects the record, noting that Dennis Talbott did not cite his affiliation with This Week In Football - or Icon SMI - when obtaining a sideline media credential under the name “Jay Talbott” for the Sept. 3 Michigan-Western Michigan game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

Dennis Talbott Ohio Sports Weekly

(Website? Dormant. Talbott Facebook page? Awash in Michigan pics!) 

Instead, Talbott duped Michigan into gifting him a field pass by noting his affiliation with the website What Talbott neglected to tell UM when he obtained his precious credential on August 31 was that he himself owned the domain - and had slapped up an empty storefront at the web address designed only to persuade media relations personnel into thinking Talbott was a member of the working media.

In the three weeks since Talbott shot the Michigan-Western Michigan game, he has added dozens of photos of the game - including one of himself shooting the action from the sideline - to his Facebook page. Yet the so-called media outlet Talbott claimed as his sole reason for being at the Big House,, not only hasn’t been updated since the UM-WMU game, the site has remained virtually unchanged since Feb. 1, 2011.

UPDATE (Sept. 20, 2011, 1:05pm ET): Michael Rothstein of ESPN reports that after learning from the SbB report below that Ohio State-blacklisted photog Dennis Talbott had gained sideline media access for the Sept. 3 Michigan-Western Michigan football game at Michigan Stadium, the school announced today that Talbott “has been banned by the Michigan athletic department.

Dennis Talbott: Banned by Michigan after SbB report

(Talbott fallback? Shooting rogue OSU booster’s favorite high school coach)

Rothstein reported that Talbott used an “unfamiliar” name while claiming affiliation with the very same publication that scored him sidelines at Ohio State beginning in 2009 - and access to the high school coach who has sent the most players to Ohio State the past decade, Cleveland-Glenville head coach Ted Ginn, Sr.

- - -

Three months ago an anonymous source alleged to ESPN that Dennis Talbott, a Central Ohio-based businessman with a sudden, new-found love for photography, “made at least 35 payments to [Terrelle] Pryor in 2009 and 2010 for signing memorabilia, for a total payout of between $20,000 and $40,000.

Dennis Talbott shooting Michigan game on Sept. 3, 2011

(Banned By Ohio State, Talbott Now Employing Northern Exposure)

Following the ESPN report, SbB revealed details of those transactions and an eBay account and now-defunct company from which Talbott sold dozens of collectibles featuring the signatures and likenesses of then-current Buckeye football players.

So how did Talbott acquire the access needed to enable such a “business“?

One way was to affiliate himself with a small Ohio-based online publication called This Week In Football. Talbott struck up that relationship in large part to (somehow) obtain photographer media credentials from Ohio State - despite having never shot as a professional photographer until 2009. Talbott actually stumbled upon the idea of posing as a pro photog after snapping some pics from the sidelines of 2008 Fiesta Bowl.

Jim Tressel signing memorabilia for Dennis Talbott

Starting with the 2009 Ohio State football season, armed with sideline access provided by Ohio State, Talbott accumulated his own product - which he reproduced for signings  and sales - while also gaining the acccess needed to develop personal relationships with players like Pryor, DeVier Posey, Doug Worthington and Thaddeus Gibson.

It wasn’t long before Ohio State-licensed memorabilia dealers caught on to Talbott’s “photography” con thanks to his prior reputation as an unafraid purveyor of the sale of unlicensed OSU product - along with his alleged penchant for forging the signature of a head coach known for his flagpin affinity.

It was that steady stream of beefs from upstanding memorabilia dealers, not anyone at Ohio State compliance or within the athletic department, that caused Talbott to eventually be stripped of his prized, Ohio State sideline pass. Between that loss, his eBay account being outed and the 2011 ESPN reports, Talbott’s trafficking of Ohio State current player memorabilia, save a stealth eBay account or three, seems to have ground to a halt.

Sufficiently shunned at the ‘Shoe, there was only one thing left for a hopeless black-marketer like Talbott to do.


Dennis Talbott Facebook Photo Gallery

(All of Talbott’s shots from the Michigan-W. Michigan game on Sept. 3)

Thanks to his previous association with a small sports photo distribution company called Icon SMI - derived only from the legitimacy provided by OSU sideline access - Talbott was given sideline photographer media credentials by Michigan for its opening game of the season against Western Michigan. A staggering fact of which, if Talbott’s profile photo on his personal Facebook account is any indication, he’s quite proud.

As he’s paid by Icon SMI only for individual shots bought by media outlets, Talbott’s relationship with company has always been more about accesss to players than actual compensation. So it was gravy for him to be paid - albeit a modest sum - by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for this shot of Denard Robinson from the Sept. 3 game:

Dennis Talbott shot of Denard Robinson

(Okay I added the inset)

Probably not a coincidence that Talbott’s prize-winning shot was of Denard Robinson, considering the seeming vast demand (and supply) of Denard Robinson-signed” items for sale online. (Here’s another sweet 16 shot from the artist formerly know as “D. Jay Talbott” - coming to an eBay auction near you!)

So far there’s no obvious indication that Talbot transacted monetary gain from UM media access like he did Ohio State, but remember, our favorite fake photog isn’t a trader - he’s an investor!

Don’t believe me? Ask Thaddeus Gibson and Doug Worthington.

While still current Ohio State players, Gibson and Worthington were receiving a wide variety of NCAA-rule-violating benefits from Columbus-based NFL agent Brad Cicala as Talbott was employing his photography-fueled grift. So if Talbott wanted a Pryor-like arrangement with Gibson and Worthington, he’d have to go through an NFL agent.

Below is a shot from an ESPN’s Outside The Lines investigative piece in which Talbott was seen - coincidentally or not - outside the office complex where Cicala’s Columbus agency was located.

Dennis Talbott outside Brad Cicala's office on ESPN's Outside The Lines

(More from ESPN’s exhaustive reporting on Talbott)

Cicala also currently reps journeyman NFL player and former Buckeye Roy Hall. It was Hall who helped Cicala connect the NFL agent with then-current Buckeye Worthington - who helped Cicala get in with Gibson, a former Cleveland-area high school star. Cicala later signed Gibson as an NFL client, a coup considering Gibson’s Ohio State position coach at the time was Luke Fickell - who has long been known for his close relationship with Cleveland-area NFL agent Neil Cornrich.

Helping Cicala land Worthington and Gibson was benefits like sweet seats to the Oct. 28, 2009, Jay-Z concert in Columbus, an actual recording studio in Gibson’s Columbus apartment and, of course, Cicala’s arrangement with Talbott.

But then again, who’s to say Worthington and Gibson wouldn’t have signed with Cicala anyway!

Just look at OSU booster Bobby DiGeronimo, who enjoyed the company of dozens of Buckeyes over the years at his annual charity event in Cleveland despite providing them no benefits of any kind.

Why, I still can’t believe Bobby D. threw away his 30-year relationship with Ohio State because, in a completely isolated case, he felt like paying three Ohio State football players $200 each at his 2011 charity event.

Three players who’d never started a game.

With envelopes.

Did I mention it was a one-time deal?

Brooks can be reached on Twitter, Facebook and directly at

2008: Ohio St. Broke Rules at Same Charity Event

EXCLUSIVE: Ohio State football players Jordan Hall, Travis Howard and Corey Brown remain suspended after the school recently reported to the NCAA that the three received $200 each - from envelopes - at a Cleveland charity event last February.

Ohio State Buckeyes, including Branden Smith, broke NCAA rules at 2008 charity event in Cleveland

(Smith in ‘08: Non-compliant at same event Buckeyes were paid in 2011)

As part of its report to the NCAA, Ohio State Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Doug Archie noted:

All of the current student-athletes Incorrectly believed that their participation in the event had been approved by the OSU compliance office, The OSU compliance office did not approve participation in the [redacted] 2011 event, but did approve the same event on [redacted] 2007 and [redacted], 2011. Please note that there was nothing impermissible about the event because It meets the provisions of NCAA Bylaw 12.5.1, but the student-athletes did not obtain prior approval from the institution to attend the event as Is required under the NCAA legislation.

Rusty Miller of the ASSOCIATED PRESS reported today that the NCAA has since responded to Ohio State’s self-reported violations by submitting questions to the school about the charity event in question - and that OSU has since “responded with some answers.

Terrelle Pryor at Charity Event in Cleveland where 3 Ohio State players were paid

(Then-current Buckeye Terrelle Pryor @ 2011 event where players paid)

As Ohio State noted in its report, the current football players obtained clearance from OSU compliance for the 2007 and 2010 annual charity event, but not for the same event that was held in 2008.

Ohio State Players at 2008 Cleveland Charity Event - Noncompliant

(Browning, Wilson (track suit), Rose, Gibson, Lane Broke NCAA Rules in 2008)

Though from photos from the latter charity gathering, then-current Ohio State football players Beanie Wells, Lawrence Wilson, Shaun Lane, Bryant Browning, Thaddeus Gibson, Branden Smith, Nate Oliver and Jermale Hines and current Ohio State player Daniel “Boom” Herron can be seen in attendance at the same Cleveland fundraiser - in 2008 - in which current Buckeyes Hall, Brown and Howard were given cash in 2011. Read more…

The Tressel Die Is Cast, But What O’ The Program?

With the NCAA’s now formal recognition of Jim Tressel’s unrepentant - as confirmed by Ohio State AD Gene Smith recently - commission of the governing body’s mortal sin, lying repeatedly to investigators after covering up NCAA violations, Ohio State Jim Tressel football coach has a choice going forward.

He can resign, retire or be fired.

From refracting the NCAA Notice of Allegations from every possible angle the past 24 hours, that fact is clear enough. What isn’t so straightforward though is what more the NCAA wants from Ohio State. That is, how far it is willing to go to make OSU an example for other programs in the strikingly non-compliant world of college football.

The NCAA may have left a clue though in its interesting decision to include the mystery “Player G” revelation in Friday’s NOA:

Player G: Sold Big Ten championship ring ($1,500), two “Gold Pants” awards ($250 each), helmet ($150) and pants ($30) from Michigan game and Rose Bowl watch ($250) for $2,430. Received $55 discount on two tattoos. Paid $100 to obtain team autographs on two helmets. Received $2,420 discount on purchase of used vehicle and $800 loan for vehicle repairs. (November 2008 to May 2010).

A former player, Ohio State curiously did not mention “Player G.” in its original tattgate self-report in December, though the player was with the Buckeyes through the 2009 season and confirmed to have committed NCAA violations during his time as an Ohio State football player.

Who is he? While no one officially knows outside the NCAA and OSU, the attorney who allegedly first tipped off Tressel to the NCAA violations committed by DeVier Posey and Terrelle Pryor may have provided the answer.

In ESPN’s March 13, 2011, Outside The Lines report Columbus lawyer and former Ohio State football player Christopher Cicero told ESPN correspondent John Barr that memorabilia from two former Buckeyes, T.J. Downing and Ray Small, was also found in the possession of now-notorious Columbus tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife.

Per ESPN’s Barr, Cicero noted that fact to Tressel in at least one of the emails in question, though Downing and Small were redacted from the communique by Ohio State officials.

Downing left the Ohio State football program in 2006, but Small played through the 2009 season and currently has several items from his playing career available for purchase online. Some of those items correspond to the “Player G.” description.

Though Cicero identified Downing and Small, he did not expound on at least two other significant claims in his emails to Tressel that indicated there was more to the memorabilia-for-extra-benefits story than Ohio State has reported.

Actual Jim Tressel Email

In one of his emails to Tressel (excerpt above), Cicero described additional Ohio State player-only items Rife owned:

He told me he has about 15 pairs of cleats (with signatures), 4-5 jerseys - all signed by players … 

He told me he has about 9 rings Big 10 championship…

[Redacted] National Championship Ring (no surprise here either)

Now compare that to what the NCAA cited in its sanctions against five Ohio State players in December, 2010:

  • Mike Adams must repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring.
  • Daniel Herron must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and receiving discounted services worth $150.
  • DeVier Posey must repay $1,250 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,200 and receiving discounted services worth $50,
  • Terrelle Pryor must repay $2,500 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, a 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and his 2008 Gold Pants, a gift from the university.
  • Solomon Thomas must repay $1,505 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,000, his 2008 Gold Pants for $350 and receiving discounted services worth $155.

So where are the “15 pairs of cleats“? The other 3-4 Ohio State jerseys? The other five Big 10 Championship rings? And the National Championship ring?

And …

Boom Herron Helmet For Sale: Wasn't Listed In NCAA report

Thaddeus Gibson: Players Knew The Rules

  • What about former Buckeye Antonio Pittman’s claim that football players selling Ohio State player-only swag for tattoos has been going on since 2001?

Antonio Pittman Tweet: Ohio State players getting tattoo hookups since 2001

  • What about this line in a Cicero email to Tressel:

Actual Jim Tressel Email

“I will try to get these items back that the government wants to keep for themselves.  Which is screwed up in an of itself. I know who specifically in the District Attorney’s office that is working on this matter and know both of them well so I will try if the opportunity presents itself.”

If the feds are indeed in possession of Buckeye player-only memorabilia that could further incriminate Ohio State with the NCAA, shouldn’t those items be promptly turned over to the NCAA?

Fine Link Ink Ohio State Players Facebook Friends

On the latter, the NCAA will require Ohio State to detail all relationships between Rife and Buckeye football players - past and present, per this passage from Friday’s NOA:

NCAA Notice of Allegations to Ohio State: Rife relationships with players

Though the NCAA has yet to charge Ohio State with the dreaded “failure of institutional control” or “failure to monitor” penalties, if the governing body wasn’t going to continue to plumb the depths of what might be additional, significant Ohio State impropriety, why did the NCAA cite the “Player G.” violations in the Notice of Allegations?

Jim Tressel contradicts earlier confidentiality claim at DSCC

With Tressel’s web of deception sufficiently confessed, it appears the future of the Ohio State football program as a near-term, viable enterprise is more tied to the NCAA’s discovery of a “Player H.” or a “Player I.” than its current coach’s assured demise.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

Terrelle Pryor’s Cars: Same As Clarett ‘04 Claim?

Jill Riepenhoff of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH reported Sunday, “three times in the past three years, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor was stopped for traffic violations while driving cars that were owned by a car salesman or a Columbus used-car lot where the salesman worked.

Terrelle Pryor: Athlete-Student

More from Riepenhoff:

Pryor told The Dispatch last night that he borrowed cars from the dealership only when his own was in for repairs. As for the SUV he borrowed in 2008, Pryor said, “I wanted advice from some of my family and friends I trusted to see if it would be a good vehicle for me to maybe buy.”

Pryor’s situation is remarkably similar to a 2004 ESPN The Magazine story in which Maurice Clarett claimed he was facilitated “loaner” vehicles by a local Columbus car dealership thanks to his status as a star Buckeye football player - with Ohio State coach Jim Tressel himself overseeing the transactions.

Maurice Clarett

(Guess who else beat Michigan, Terrelle?)

On Nov. 10, 2004, Tom Friend wrote in the ESPN publication: Read more…

Sugar Bowl CEO: ‘Integrity of game’ Trumps NCAA

Ken Gordon of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH reports today that after Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan found out on Dec. 7, 2010, that five Ohio State players might be ruled ineligible for his New Orleans bowl game because of NCAA rule violations, he “pressured” Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith lobby the NCAA to keep the players eligible.

Terrelle Pryor: Athlete-Student

Hoolahan to Gordon:

“I made the point that anything that could be done to preserve the integrity of this year’s game, we would greatly appreciate it. That appeal did not fall on deaf ears, and I’m extremely excited about it, that the Buckeyes are coming in at full strength and with no dilution.”

Despite knowing that Ohio State players had broken NCAA rules repeatedly, Sugar Bowl CEO Hoolahan injected himself into the NCAA investigation process and may have been influential in the NCAA accepting the same ignorance-of-the-rules defense that NCAA athletes have been using ineffectively for over a century.

All in the name of “preserving the integrity of this year’s game.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the NCAA subsequently ruled that Ohio State players could play in the Sugar Bowl because they were unaware that selling OSU football related items and receiving extra benefits from a tattoo parlor owner - because of their status as Buckeye football players - was against NCAA rules. AD Smith also later confirmed that his NCAA compliance department at the school, the largest in the nation, did not adequately inform the guilty OSU players of the extra benefits rule.

As reported here last Saturday
, a prominent Buckeye football player who was on the team when the NCAA violations occurred, Thaddeus Gibson, later disputed Smith’s claim that players didn’t know the rules by saying that Smith and OSU coaches made players aware of the rules in question “all the time.” Gibson himself also received tattoos from the same establishment that the guilty Buckeye football players were associated with.

Thaddeus Gibson: Players Knew The Rules

So if the NCAA’s interpretation of its own rules was the key in whether or not the five Ohio State players were able to play in the Sugar Bowl, why didn’t Hoolahan instead direct his plea to the NCAA office in Indianapolis? Read more…

2007-09 Buckeye Disputes ‘I Didn’t Know’ Defense

In its decision last Thursday to allow five Ohio State football players to play in the Sugar Bowl - despite suspending the same players for five games each for the 2011 season - the NCAA cited the fact that the players did not know they were breaking NCAA rules when they sold Ohio State player-only items to Columbus tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife.

Thaddeus Gibson: Players Knew The Rules

(Tattooed Gibson was teammates with the guilty players)

From the NCAA release:

The decision from the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff does not include a withholding condition for the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The withholding condition was suspended and the student-athletes will be eligible to play in the bowl game Jan. 4 based on several factors.

These include the acknowledgment the student-athletes did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred, Lennon said.

NCAA policy allows suspending withholding penalties for a championship or bowl game if it was reasonable at the time the student-athletes were not aware they were committing violations, along with considering the specific circumstances of each situation.

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith also made clear during a press conference to announce the NCAA penalties that his compliance staff had fell down on the job when it came to making it known to players that they couldn’t sell such items.

We were not explicit with these young men that you could not resell items that we give you. We began to be more explicit in November 2009.”

On the same day Ohio State and the NCAA claimed OSU player ignorance of the rules, the Buckeye football player with the most tattoos on the team between 2007-09, Thaddeus Gibson, said that Ohio State football players during the time in question were repeatedly (explicitly) informed of the NCAA rule in question. Read more…