story on Friday (as many of you did) about an Ohio State fan who took thing..."/> story on Friday (as many of you did) about an Ohio State fan who took thing..."/>

Tracking the Alex Anzalone Decommitment From Ohio State


I came across a story on Friday (as many of you did) about an Ohio State fan who took things just a bit too far with current players and recruits. The fan, Charles Eric Waugh, was showing up at meet and greets with recruits, coincidentally showed up for lunch with a couple current players and tweeter at SEVERAL of each. He even had pictures taken with players and recruits that popped up on Facebook all over as he tagged players in them.

Admittedly, I grew bored with the story at about that point and clicked out of it. Crazy fan tweets at players and recruits. Got it.

A couple of hours later, the link was texted to me with the message “You have to read this-skip past the pictures.” I did, as that friend generally doesn’t waste my time. The story went on to tell about Waugh’s history, which included a conviction of five counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performances by minors. He is currently on probation in the state of Kentucky. A probation that includes stipulations violating him from participating in social networking websites. Twitter falls under that description.

A couple hours after I read the story, news broke that linebacker Alex Anzalone, who committed to Ohio State on April 21st, had decommited from the Buckeyes. Added to that story was a quote from Anzalone stating that Ohio State was no longer in the running for his services. Alex is one of the players who appears in a picture with Waugh on the aforementioned story.

I got in touch with Alex who didn’t explain what had happened, saying only that “There’s a reason. Trust me.”

I refused to speculate, but many felt it was as simple as adding two plus two. Kid was exposed to crazed fan. Crazed fan had dark past. Kid was freaked out and distanced himself. Alex’s father, Dr. Sal Anzalone, would later confirm that theory to the Reading Eagle newspaper, saying

"“You don’t want your son to go to a place where there’s a potential issue (like this). You expect the (football) staff to have some sort of control on how things are handled with recruits when they visit. This is ridiculous. I was concerned with what recruits do and with them being allowed to visit these kind of places where it puts kids at risk. That’s the issue. You entrust people (at the school) to do the right thing.”"

The article goes on to say that while he said he doesn’t believe the Buckeyes coaching staff was aware that a sexual predator had access to its recruits and players, Sal Anzalone said he is upset at what transpired.

"“Of course,” he said. “Who wouldn’t be? I’m outraged.”"

I’d like to add at this point that I don’t know all of the details, but this truly seems to me like something that could have easily happened anywhere. I’m sure that doesn’t make it any less creepy for those involved (children AND parents), and I can understand that, but there are crazy fans everywhere. Once Ohio State knew about Waugh’s past, they took the right steps to shut down his contact with players. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, the damage had been done.

On Saturday, a story hit Twitter, saying that Alex had visited Florida on Thursday, the day before he pulled his commitment from Ohio State. Was that the real reason? Did it play a part? Could be. He had Florida in his top 5 before committing to the Buckeyes. I haven’t asked Alex about the visit because I’m not sure it’s relevant. If it was, he’d probably be a Gator by now. Dr. Anzalone attended Med School in Gainesville and the trip could easily have been due to that.

There were also some folks wondering if the depth chart played a factor. OSU pulled in 4-5 linebacker recruits last year and haven’t slowed down this year, with offers out to a couple of the top LBs in the country. The Anzalone family doesn’t strike me as one that doesn’t do their homework. I’m sure Alex was aware of the depth chart two weeks ago.

Regardless of the reason, Alex is back on the market. Since the story of his decommitment on Friday, I’ve seen conflicting reports about whether or not Alex is still considering the Buckeyes. Was it a knee-jerk reaction, following disturbing news? Will Meyer put back on his salesman cap and go back after the All American linebacker? Did Urban become fed up with the scrutiny over something that he couldn’t control and sever the ties from his end? We may never know the answer to any of those questions. One thing you can be sure of is that Notre Dame, Florida, Stanford, USC and Penn State are all eager to get Alex back on campus again to pitch their respective schools. [UPDATE: ALEX HAS CONFIRMED TO ME THAT OHIO STATE IS STILL IN THE RUNNING.]

The second comment I’d like to make is about the fans from Penn State’s fanbase and others who have claimed that if the Waugh story IS what scared Alex away from OSU, that must mean that Penn State is no longer a factor. Alex told me on Friday that Penn State is indeed in the running.

The scandal at Penn State and this situation are very different as they pertain to Alex Anzalone. The tragic Sandusky situation was brought to light in November, and had no effect on Alex visiting Penn State three times between February 17th and April 14th. It never directly affected Alex in any way. The situation at Ohio State, while less shocking and dramatic, caused him to decommit from Ohio State, saying that they are no longer a candidate, while infuriating his father. It not only affected his decision, but probably caused a little embarrassment, as the picture of Anzalone with Waugh was floating around Facebook for some time. I wouldn’t lump those two situations together in this instance, regardless of the few similarities.

I have no idea where Alex is “leaning” right now, but he has said that he intends to take things slowly. I know that when Alex announced he was a Buckeye, he had no intentions of ever changing that. I’m positive he wants to avoid that happening again.

For all of the latest on the Penn State Nittany Lions, follow VBR Lead Editor Tim Tolley on Twitter.