Bobby D Speaks; Seen With OSU Rose Bowl Ring

On Feb. 4, 2011, disassociated Ohio State booster Bobby DiGeronimo appeared on WMJI-FM’s “Lanigan & Malone” morning show in Cleveland to promote the charity event which ultimately rendered three Buckeye football players ineligible.

Bobby DiGeronimo with John Cooper after 1998 Michigan game wearing Big 10 Rose Bowl Championship Ring

(Banned OSU Booster Has His Own Championship Ring? Of Course He Does)

DiGeronimo has since admitted to giving three Ohio State players envelopes containing cash at this Feb. 19, 2011, Cornerstone of Hope Gala, which has subsequently led to his own formal ban from all contact with OSU athletics.


During his Cleveland radio appearance, DiGeronimo led off his description of the the event thusly:

“… We try to make this fun, we do about 25 minutes of serious stuff, including introducing all the Ohio State Buckeyes on this current team that’ll be there, last year there was 20 of them. Then Troy Smith, Teddy Ginn, Robert Smith, Mike Vrabel, Tom Cousineau, Doug Dieken, those kind of people show up and give us their support. And we have some great auction prizes …

Among the current Ohio State football players who attended the Feb. 19, 2011, event were Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Hall, Corey Brown, Travis Howard and, as reported only by SbB, Nathan Williams and Braxton Miller. SbB also broke the news that Pryor’s late August testimony to the NCAA was why Hall, Brown and Howard were cited - and suspended - by Ohio State for the DiGeronimo cash grab.

Ironic that DiGeronimo didn’t cite John Cooper as a past or future attendee of the Feb. 19, 2011, charity event to the Cleveland radio show considering the rogue OSU booster’s close relationship with the former Ohio State head football coach. It was Cooper who afforded DiGeronimo sideline and locker room access at Ohio State football games, along with rides on the team plane.

Bobby DiGeronimo with John Cooper after 1998 Michigan game wearing Big 10 Rose Bowl Championship Ring

(Yes, The Photo Is Real. And Spectacular.)

Not to mention an Ohio State championship ring that DiGeronimo was seen wearing in an Associated Press photo in 1998.

In the above photo DiGeronimo, who has also staged Cooper’s annual charity event golf tournament the past two years, can be seen wearing what appears to be a personalized 1996-97 Big Ten Rose Bowl Championship Ring identical to the rings given to OSU players and coaches.

Bobby DiGeronimo with John Cooper after 1998 Michigan game wearing Big 10 Rose Bowl Championship Ring

(Photo Credit: Mark Hall of the ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Here’s a link to a sample of Cooper’s ring - which is clearly the same style ring DiGeronimo was photographed wearing while he attempted to escort the Buckeyes football coach off the playing field following Ohio State’s 31-16 victory over Michigan on Nov. 21, 1998.

If you had had that kind of access to the Ohio State football program - not to mention the accompanying bling - would you throw away that 30 -year relationship by handing $200 to three players who hadn’t yet started a game at Ohio State?

That’s essentially what DiGeronimo claimed he did when he told the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER on Sept. 21, 2011, that the cash envelopes were the only time he’d paid OSU football players. Ever.

Apparently DiGeronimo forgot he paid still-suspended star Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey over $700 for summer job work Posey didn’t do, along with overpayments to four other Buckeyes including still-suspended OSU running back Daniel “Boom” Herron.

So now that he’s officially disassociated from the Ohio State football program - thanks to recent testimony to the NCAA by Terrelle Pryor - will DiGeronimo have to give his Big Ten & Rose Bowl ring back to the school?

As Ohio State gave Pryor, who is now disassociated himself from the school, a 2010 Big Ten championship ring from a now-vacated season, I have a sneaking feeling I am the first - and last - person to ask that question.

Brooks is on Facebook and Twitter.

OSU High School Recruits At Charity Cash Grab!?!

Earlier this week I reported that current Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was at the 2011 charity event hosted by rogue OSU booster Bobby DiGeronimo.

Cardale Jones and Ted Ginn, Sr. at same charity event where Buckeyes were paid by Bobby DiGeronimo

(Then-Ohio State high school recruit Cardale Jones top-right)

Miller signed with Ohio State roughly three weeks before the fundraiser though he had already enrolled at the school when he made the Cleveland benefit scene where Buckeye teammates Jordan Hall, Corey Brown and Travis Howard pocketed cash envelopes from Bobby D. and then-teammate Terrelle Pryor.

The same can’t be said though for current Ohio State prized signee Cardale Jones, one of the top quarterback prospects in the country.

Jones signed with Ohio State last February and was still attending Glenville high school in Cleveland when he was photographed with his high school coach, Ted Ginn, Sr., at the exact 2011 fundraiser that cost Hall, Brown and Howard two games of eligibilty.

Jones is now attending Fork Union Academy and expected to enroll at OSU soon.

Current Ohio State player Christian Bryant was also photographed at DiGeronimo’s now-infamous annual event in 2010 two weeks after signing with Ohio State:

Boom Herron and Christian Bryant at Cleveland Charity Event Where Buckeyes Paid in 2011

(Current Ohio State players Boom Herron and Christian Bryant in 2010)

Like Jones, Bryant was still in high school - and wearing his Glenville High School letterman’s jacket! - when the above photo was taken on Feb. 20, 2010. Bryant in seen in the picture with current Ohio State running back Boom Herron, who also attended the Cleveland event hosted by booster DiGeronimo in 2008 and 2009.

Cleveland Charity Event Hosted By Bobby DiGeronimo Attended by Boom Herron Thaddeus Gibson and Terrelle Pryor in 2009

Ex-Ohio State players Pryor (below) and Thaddeus Gibson (above) were also at the 2009 Cleveland charity event hosted by DiGeronimo.

Cleveland Charity Event Hosted By Bobby DiGeronimo Attended by Boom Herron Thaddeus Gibson and Terrelle Pryor in 2009

(2009 Bobby D. Event photo of Pryor from OSU Student Newspaper!)

Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell has yet to comment on the record about the revelation that Miller, Jones and Bryant were all at the Cleveland charity event where a 30-year OSU booster has admitted to paying Buckeye football players with envelopes containing cash. (Jones and Bryant were in high school when they attended the booster-run benefit.)

Perhaps Fickell just wants to be sure he has his facts straight before he addresses the subject in public.

For that, he can always call his current rep, NFL agent Neil Cornich, since previously the NFLPA-censured (twice) Cornrich was also photographed at the 2010 and 2011 Buckeye benefits host by Bobby D. in Cleveland.

Neil Cornrich and Cordale Jones and Ted Ginn Sr at Bobby DiGeronimo Cleveland Charity Event Where Buckeyes Were Paid Cash

On June 23, 2008, Liz Mullen of SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY reported of the Cleveland-based Cornrich:

An NFL Players Association committee has voted to issue letters of reprimand to nine agents, including veteran agent Neil Cornrich .. for allegedly violating a new regulation prohibiting agents from contacting underclassmen.

Cornrich also reps former Ohio State football stars Robert Smith, Ted Ginn, Jr., Beanie Wells, Troy Smith and former Ohio State head coach John Cooper - with the previous quartet regular attendees of Bobby D.’s Cleveland charity events.

Neil Cornrich and Christian Bryant and Boom Herron at Bobby DiGeronimo Cleveland Charity Event Where Buckeyes Were Paid Cash

Oh, Cornrich is new Ohio State assistant coach Mike Vrabel’s agent too.

Handy.

Brooks is on Twitter, Facebook and at sportsbybrooks@gmail.com

Guy Paying Pryor Hides Buckeye Memorabilia Biz

Tuesday I reported that the NCAA had discovered checks passed from Columbus freelance photographer Dennis Talbott to former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor in exchange for signing Buckeye memorabilia while Pryor was still in school. (At the beginning of each school year, the NCAA has all student-athletes sign a consent form which allows the intercollegiate governing body to access their bank records at any time.)

Terrelle Pryor signed items for Dennis Talbott who sold them on Ebay and through Varsity O Memorabiiia operation

(Top Left Pryor Photo Has Ebay Watermark (Bottom Right Of Image))

Talbott, who was formally banned from associating with the Ohio State football program by the school last year and owns a Buckeye-themed vehicle with the vanity plate “T PRYOR”, was also seen selling autographed Pryor memorabilia on Ebay as recently as three days ago.

Dennis Talbott selling game-used Ohio State player-only memorabilia on Ebay

Using the Ebay screen name “infickellwetrust“, Talbott has since pulled all 250 items he had listed off the website. Among those items was signed memorabilia from Pryor along with game-used, autographed items from multiple former Ohio State Buckeye football players.

In the 48 hours since I reported those revelations, I’ve learned of an additional, stand-alone operation that Talbott has used to sell Ohio State football memorabilia. Talbott calls the business, which is unregistered in the state of Ohio, Varsity O Memorabilia.

Dennis Talbott Varsity O Memorabilia Operation

A current “Varsity O Memorabilia” Facebook page, last updated in April, features some of the product procured by Talbott over the years from dozens of Buckeye football and basketball players. Many of the items seen signed in the Facebook photos came from then-current Ohio State players like Terrelle Pryor and Ted Ginn, Jr. 

Ted Ginn, Jr., Terrelle Pryor signing for Dennis Talbott

In the top-left photo Ginn is seen signing an Ohio State football helmet which may have seen game action while the above Pryor photo features an Ebay watermark in the bottom right corner of the image.

Also seen in the Facebook photos either signing memorabilia for Talbott or posing for photos later autographed by the subject are A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Maurice Wells, Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Chris Wells, Mike D’Andrea, Troy Smith, Quinn Pitcock - among other former Buckeye football and basketball players.

Some of the photos of Talbott’s memorabilia procurement were taken at officially-sanctioned Ohio State events, so newly-ousted OSU coach Jim Tressel is seen on more than one occasion signing various items for Talbott.

Jim Tressel signing memorabilia for Dennis Talbott

In the montage above, the Tressel-signed photo Talbott was selling on Ebay last Wednesday was identical to the photo Tressel was seen signing for Talbott in the above Facebook picture uploaded on March 11, 2011. A copy of the same signed image was also seen framed in a “Limited Edition” album as part of Talbott’s Varsity O Memorabilia Facebook page.

In one particular “Varsity O” Facebook promotional page photo, the former Ohio State football coach is seen signing a Buckeye football mini helmet. At the bottom of the picture is the web address VARSITYOMEN.com.

Jim Tressel signing memorabilia for Dennis Talbott

The cell phone number listed for Talbott on his photographer media credential for the Columbus-based This Week In Football publication and in Federal and Delaware County, Ohio, court documents matches the telephone contact number for the only person ever registered as owner of the VARSITYOMEM.com website. The site URL, which was first purchased in 2007, is no longer operable.

On August 14, 2007, a person with the screen name “VarsityOMem” posted a promotional message for an Agonis Club of Columbus event in which the Ohio State Buckeyes football team would be appearing.

Dennis Talbott Board Member Of Agonis Club of Columbus

A public records search this week for “Dennis J. Talbott” confirmed that he has served as a board member for Agonis Club of Columbus.

While the extent of the relationship between Talbott and Pryor is not known, at the very least it has now been verified that Talbott was recently - earlier this week - selling Pryor-signed merchandise on Ebay. In addition, I can now confirm that Talbott sold photos and footballs signed by Pryor in 2008.

Terrelle Pryor signed items for Dennis Talbott who sold them on Ebay and through Varsity O Memorabiiia operation

Worthpoint.com, which archives Ebay auctions, has records of at least three Pryor auctions in late 2008 executed by Talbott’s Varsity O memorabilia operation. That unregistered business also auctioned off a signed photo of Buckeye football players Smith, Ginn, Donte Whitner, Jamario O’Neal, and Curtis Terry in 2006, a Wells-signed football in 2007 and an autographed picture of DeVier Posey and Lamar Thomas in 2008.

Many of the photos signed by Buckeye players for Talbott - if not all - were taken by Talbott himself. Until recently, Talbott was granted full media access to the Ohio State football and basketball teams by the school’s athletic department as a photographer. Though, in his work for Icon SMI, Talbott was not paid for his assignments - only for the individual photos he sold to media outlets.

Dennis Talbott selling game-used Ohio State player-only memorabilia on Ebay

It was that same, unfettered access provided by the Ohio State Athletics and Compliance Departments that allowed Talbott to obtain autographs from innumerable Ohio State football and basketball players for many years, which he subsequently benefited from financially and otherwise.

That’s precisely the reason why he was finally cut off from those high profile Ohio State athletes and placed on blacklist by OSU athletic department officials I’ve confirmed as reservd for those officially disassociated from the program.

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