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The tale of Brian Cushing — the young linebacker who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug this off-season, not long after being named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year — raises a number of interesting questions. What did he test positive for? Why was he using that substance? And why have other rookies (Julius Peppers and Shawne Merriman come to mind) kept R.O.Y. awards on their shelves after similar incidents?

If Brian Cushing (above) loses his award, should Alex Rodriguez (below) lose his?

But the question I want to focus on here is the potential can of worms opened up in other sports, chief among those being baseball. America’s pastime, of course, has been tainted by performance-enhancing drugs, with the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens holding awards and gaudy stats amid clouds of suspicion. So, does the Cushing incident set a precedent for taking the awards back? The NCAA issues similar punishment (see “1997 Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball”) during academic scandals, wiping out any record that a season ever existed.

Baseball too has dabbled in rewriting the record books — Roger Maris lived with that nasty asterisk for years. The argument, of course, is to make sure future generations know (or, in the NCAA’s case, don’t know) the indiscretions of a given team or player, whether founded or not.

This approach, however, does more harm than good, especially in today’s media age where EVERY record is stored in a million different forms. Want to take back A-Rod’s MVP trophies? Go ahead, but the video of him being honored (plus the blogs, and Web stories, and audio, and T-shirts…) all still exist. Memories fade, but they don’t disappear. Want to strip Cushing of his award? Go for it, but people will still remember what he won…and how the second guy in line got his trophy.

Instead, let these guys keep their awards. But don’t let them (or the sport-fan public) forget the clouds of suspicion. Future generations SHOULD know that A-Rod hit 800 HRs and won multiple MVP awards. But they should also know that he admitted to using PEDs at least once and likely used them more often than that. It’s part of the record, of the story of sports. Yes, this generation of athletes is far from spotless. But Ty Cobb was a racist, Jordan a gambler and Mantle a womanizer. Just goes to show that every generation has its fair share of black spots. Instead of trying to cover them up by rewriting the books, let the record speak for itself — now and forever.

Photo credits: Cushing (TexAlley.com); Rodriguez (Reuters)

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I wanted to blog tonight. And because I couldn’t think of anything overly insightful or meaningful, I decided to make my picks for the upcoming Big Ten men’s basketball tournament (starts Thursday in Indianapolis):

Michigan(8 seed) 70, Iowa (9) 54

Iowa is terrible. And I’m not just saying this because I’m a Gophers fan. They truly looked bad when I saw them on Sunday, and they just honestly don’t have much talent.

Northwestern(7) 62, Indiana(10) 64

I’ll take the de facto home team in a small upset.

Minnesota(6) 73, Penn State(11) 65

I think the Lions are better than both the ninth-seeded Hawkeyes and the tenth-seeded Hoosiers. But the Gophers are more talented and will survive a scrappy test.

Ohio State(1) 82, Michigan(8)65

The Buckeyes may be the best team in the country. They definitely have the best player.

Wisconsin(4) 66, Illinois(5) 50

Illinois is reeling and the Badgers should have no trouble beating them like they did easily just a few days ago.

Purdue(2) 74, Indiana(10) 56

Nice first round upset, but Purdue is too good for IU. Easy win close to campus.

Michigan State(3) 67, Minnesota(6) 69

Gophers almost beat Sparty twice this year, and with MSU struggling a bit lately, a minor upset here.

Ohio State(1) 68, Wisconsin(4) 60

The Badgers will slow Turner and crew down some, but OSU is just too good.

Purdue(2)65, Minnesota(6) 63

A good game the last time these two met, this will also be a close one. But Purdue knows how to win big games, while the Gophers seem to know how to lose them.

Ohio State(1) 73, Purdue(2) 68

Good effort toward the end of the season without Hummel, but again, OSU is just really that good. A legitimate Final Four contender, the Buckeyes will win the Big Ten.

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