By JAMAL THALJI and JOHN SCHWARB
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 31, 2000
|[Times photos:Brendan Fitterer]
South Carolina's cheerleaders battle their Ohio State counterparts in a tug of war on Clearwater Beach. Cold temperatures and heavy winds forced an abbreviated version of Beach Day.
TAMPA -- Another day, another distraction from preparations for Monday's Outback Bowl.
Only now it's Ohio State's turn.
The latest incident: senior offensive tackle Tyson Walter sues a teammate, junior center LeCharles Bentley, seeking more than $50,000 in damages for injuries sustained when Bentley allegedly punched him Feb. 17 during winter conditioning.
The suit was filed late Thursday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in Columbus, Ohio, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Walter has been sidelined this season with a hip ailment. Neither player was available for comment last week. Walter's attorney, Todd H. Neuman, did not comment to the Dispatch.
Athletic director Andy Geiger said the school was aware the suit would be filed. "I can't react, really, other than to say I have no comment about it at this time," Geiger told the Dispatch. "Obviously this is a legal procedure and I wouldn't want to prejudice it by anything that I might say."
Fifth-year senior Walter is hoping the NCAA will grant him another season of eligibility for medical reasons. OSU believes it will be granted, which could mean Walter and Bentley could line up side-by-side next season.
At the time of the incident, Walter denied to the Dispatch that it occurred. In his suit, Walter claims Bentley unexpectedly punched him from behind, claiming he suffered a broken nose, cheekbone and teeth and "emotional trauma."
WAIT, THERE'S MORE: OSU already was dealing with internal strife after sophomore linebacker Matt Wilhelm questioned the leadership of senior wideout Ken-Yon Rambo, a co-captain.
Wilhelm told the Dispatch he and a faction of players believe "Ken-Yon was chosen as a captain more for the fact that he was a star on this team than for his leadership abilities. I don't agree with a lot of the things he's done. As far as the way he acts on and off the field sometimes, I think there's a better way to go about it."
Rambo and Wilhelm met under the auspices of co-captain and quarterback Steve Bellisari to clear the air. Another co-captain, defensive end Rodney Bailey, told the Dispatch "There will be no fallout."
Wilhelm, though, hoped his remarks inspire some kind of change in Rambo.
"It might change him in some way and make him realize that what he's been doing in the past is maybe not the right way to do it," Wilhelm told the Dispatch, "and that maybe he's going to have some kind of fire, some kind of desire to be the type of leader that he really should be in this game and go out with a bang."
Rambo, who was voted co-captain by teammates, did not comment.
South Carolina has been dealing with the suspension of its star running back, the firing of a graduate assistant accused of passing information to archrival Clemson and a report that coach Lou Holtz is on the Redskins' list of NFL coaching candidates -- which he ridiculed as rumors Friday.
IT BEATS PHILLY: Clearwater Beach was not exactly paradise for Saturday's Bowl Beach Day, as windy, 50-degree weather greeted fans and players. An afternoon's worth of activities was squeezed into about an hour's time, and players from both teams made quick appearances before dashing for buses.
"Man, I didn't think it was going to be like this," said USC defensive tackle Anthony Overstreet. "I had shorts on (earlier), now I'm glad I got long pants."
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