April 16, 2014

Ohio State and Jim Tressel Just the Latest Victims of a Flawed System

(Note: WFNY doesn’t have a singular editorial voice.  Today we will obviously have a lot of Ohio State posts as it is such big news.  Remember that each writer’s opinion is their own.)

Throughout history there have been cycles. Empires have risen, and inevitably, they have fallen. The same can be said of sports, to a certain degree. In particular, in major college athletics, the system ruled the most by money, profit, and power, you can only experience so much success before your success begins to attract unwanted attention.

It’s a pattern that plays itself out far too often. University is successful, media begins to focus on program and inevitably finds loose ends, University stands behind coach, more media info comes out, boosters and donors get nervous and begin to melt under intense scrutiny, University parts ways with coach in an effort to keep their hands out and their palms up. And life goes on.

That’s the way college sports tend to work, and it’s the way the Jim Tressel era has ended at The Ohio State University. In many ways, this ending was so spectacularly destructive that it seems like this was really the only way this ever could have ended. Like the brightest star imploding into its own violent death, so too has arguably the most glorious era of Buckeye football been crushed under its own weight.

As an alum of The Ohio State University, there are obviously more than a hundred emotions coursing through my body as I try to make some sense of all this and try to balance accountability with the ridiculous system in place. Yet, all I can really keep telling myself about this whole situation, and for all parties involved, is that this is just a damn shame.

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It’s a shame that Jim Tressel didn’t do the right thing. A lot will be said and written today and in the coming weeks about everything that went on at Ohio State, but at the end of the day, the minute Jim Tressel received that email from Christopher Cicero, he should have done the right thing and passed the information on to OSU’s compliance office.

When this story is written it’s going to be overlooked that compliance is not the job of a head coach. There are highly trained, highly educated compliance officials hired by the University whose job it is to overlook oversee (ed. note: horrible slip up there) everything and make sure these kind of overarching problems don’t exist.

Many will tell you that Tressel is at fault because he didn’t monitor the program, but a big part of the reason Tressel got himself into so much trouble was precisely because he tried to act as a compliance official on his own. Rather than letting the experts handle it, he decided to deal with it himself. Who knows how much Tressel really knew. It’s hard to believe he didn’t have an idea, but again, it’s not supposed to be his job. He should have reported what he knew to compliance and let them deal with it.

But alas, he didn’t, he tried to deal with it all on his own, and for that, he is no longer coach at Ohio State. When you are hired as head football coach at Ohio State, one of the 2 banner programs in the most powerful and influential conference in college athletics, you are responsible for more than the Xs and Os. You are the steward of the program and you are responsible for the direction and reputation of the program. And that’s the biggest shame of all, that a great man like Jim Tressel who always came from a place of love for his players, his coaches, and for The Ohio State University, will walk away disgraced as the man who forever sullied the name of the University.

We can make excuses, we can point out how ridiculous the rules are and how unquestionable silly it is that he lost his livelihood all because he didn’t tell anyone that some of his players sold their own stuff for cash and tattoos, but none of that matters today. All of that is true, but it doesn’t matter because rules are rules. He broke them, he left a paper trail in the form of those emails, and he lied about it when the issue first broke. And it’s just a shame.

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It’s a shame that Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith didn’t have a better plan. This whole thing was horribly mismanaged by Gene Smith from the very beginning and in my opinion, he should join Tressel in resigning from the University.

He never should have put on that awful press conference to announce the 2 game suspension in which Tressel, Gee, Smith, and the whole University came across like a bunch of liars and cheaters who were making a dog and pony show of the whole investigation. As someone who once served on the NCAA infractions committee, Smith should have known better. He should have displayed strong leadership to guide Tressel and the University through this storm.

Instead, he faked a strong backbone initially before quickly distancing himself from the coach and backing down to all the media pressure. He had no plan for this, and Ohio State has no real plan or direction to go from here. They are a lame duck program with a lame duck coach with no replacement lined up and no idea of where they are going from here.

Nothing has changed from the day the NCAA’s allegations were leaked to Yahoo Sports. The Sports Illustrated hit job added a bunch of hearsay allegations and did a character assassination of the coach, sure, but the NCAA doesn’t punish on hearsay. It’s why Auburn survived the Cam Newton pay to play scam and it’s why Oregon survived the Will Lyles pay for recruits scandal. There was no paper trail to investigate. Same with the Sports Illustrated story, there’s no paper trail to follow.

No, Jim Tressel is in trouble because of his emails with Chris Cicero and the others that he emailed information to. But these are things that University already knew about when they self reported the issue. So if these allegations are enough to make them feel they need to part ways with Jim Tressel, they should have done so that instant. Instead, they allowed this thing to grow and fester for no real reason. They gained nothing and lost so much more.

That’s a sign of horrendous leadership and a lack of direction. If Gene Smith, Gordon Gee, and the big time donors who run the program weren’t willing to see this through until the NCAA delivered the rulings, then they should have asked for Tressel’s resignation on day one. Instead, they made the University look arrogant and foolish before ultimately buckling at the absolute worst time. And it’s a shame that Jim Tressel didn’t have better leadership above him to help guide this thing.

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It’s a shame that the Tattoo 5, and Terrelle Pryor in particular, will forever be associated as the players who got Jim Tressel fired. Nobody seems to care that this has gone at Ohio State and at programs all across the country for decades. It may be against the NCAA rules, but the practice of receiving benefits for athletic excellence is something that always existed and always will. These players just happen to be the ones who got caught.

It’s too bad more people can’t remember what it’s like to be 20 years old and poor. Some of my college memories include scrounging up change to try to find enough money for a trip to McDonalds and having to borrow money from a friend to buy a new Pearl Jam CD that came out. I remember trying to think of things I could sell to have more money. If I would have had the opportunity to sell some memorabilia and autographs for some spare spending money, I have no doubts I would have done it too, especially with so many others doing the same thing.

This isn’t to offer up justification, but it’s an attempt to offer up understanding. I get why these players did what they did and I know they never in a million years imagined it would lead to their coach being asked to resign. Why would they? The practice of selling memorabilia dates back to Woody Hayes and no other coach has ever gotten fired for it. So I get it.

Maybe it doesn’t make it any more right, but I just think it’s a shame that blame is going to be placed on these kids who were mostly 18-20 years old when they did it. I think it’s a shame that many will fake outrage that these students wanted tattoos and cars and some extra spending money when the athletic department is bragging about their $109,382,222 budget.

All I know is that nobody has ever done a sufficient job of explaining to me who is being hurt here. Nobody has been able to explain where the harm lies in allowing these kids to earn a little extra on the side. So a kid can get a tattoo or a car for signing some useless junk. Who cares? How is that affecting anyone else’s life? It’s just a shame that words like “lack of institutional control” and “culture of corruption” are thrown around schools like Ohio State and others when it’s the NCAA system that lacks control and breeds this culture of corruption.

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It’s a shame that all of this has happened and nothing will ever change. Yesterday on Twitter, our own Craig made a couple great points when he said “This is false justice without real victims” and “My biggest issue is that this story is so wrapped up in details and real story of NCAA football is left untouched”.

He’s partially right. He’s right that everyone is so involved in what Jim Tressel did that they have turned this into a Jim Tressel issue. But this isn’t a Jim Tressel issue. This is a College Football issue. On ESPN radio yesterday, Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples was asked whether it’s possible today for an elite college football program to consistently win at an elite level without trending toward the gray at all, and his response was a simple “absolutely not”. And he’s right.

The system is so clearly broken and rather than deal with the real issues, everyone instead wants to lean on moral high ground and pretend like firing coaches and sanctioning schools will fix things. It’s not that different from having a disease and treating the symptoms while ignoring the problem that creates the symptoms. At what point will not just fans, but administrators and decision makers put their foot down and realize that enough is enough?

The point where Craig wasn’t totally right was when he said there are no victims. There are no real victims at Ohio State. George Dohrmann and investigative reporters like him aren’t making college sports a better place. Nobody was being hurt and nothing is better today without Jim Tressel. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t victims.

The victims, as usual, are the fans and the alumni of Universities who participate in college football at an elite level. Fans just want to watch football. Most fans of Ohio State don’t root for them because of their academics or anything like that. They root for them because they like the caliber of athletes that the program produces.

And so today, the fans and alumni of Ohio State are left without Jim Tressel and they are somehow supposed to feel like the University is better off for it. It’s a jarring disconnect between that reality and the reality of the caliber of people Jim Tressel has produced at Ohio State. Maybe Tressel’s compassion and belief in the character of people contributed to his undoing, but it’s the same reason his players and almost anyone who has ever had any contact with him hold him in such high regard.

You can listen to people like Sports Illustrated’s George Dohrmann who will tell you that Jim Tressel wasn’t the man he claimed to be and that he was a bad, evil man who fixed raffles and who didn’t care about the well being of his players, just as long as Ohio State was winning. Or you can listen to the hundreds of current and former players, along with anyone else who knows the man, who will tell you the truth of who Jim Tressel is, what he stands for, and the everlasting effect he had on anyone fortunate enough to cross paths with him.

Dohrmann was particularly self congratulating in his article about how he brought down the Jim Tressel empire, and he was equally adamant on Twitter that he was responsible for Tressel’s resignation. It’s a shame that this is what passes as journalistic integrity today. It’s really too bad that going out and finding the few people who have an axe to grind and getting them to hide behind that journalistic anonymity is all it takes to force someone out of their job.

If that’s the case, though, then this should serve as a warning to anyone who is finding delight in the downfall of Ohio State football. I told several friends when USC went through their problems that they should be careful. I now pass on that same warning. This is a broken system that bleeds into every nook and cranny of every program that tries its hand at winning. And there will always be one or two disgruntled individuals who will be all too happy to try their best to bring everything down. And they will succeed.

And in the end, we are left with no winners. Ohio State is not better off without Jim Tressel and his resignation will almost certainly do nothing to lessen the punishment that they face from the NCAA. Fans will continue to be told that this is about integrity and that Ohio State will put stronger compliance safeguards in place, but until someone is willing to do something about the source of these problems, the symptoms will merely pop up somewhere else.

And above all else, that is really just a shame.

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Quilter, Columbus Dispatch

  • Vengeful Pat

    Agree and disagree. It’s a shame that this had to happen in the first place. It’s a shame that Tressel decided to be his own compliance office and sat on the email. There’s more coming out today about players trading stuff for weed and players being given cars and all that jazz. We haven’t heard the end of the corruption unfortunately, and it’s worse than just tattoos. So I believe the players, the coach, and the university are being punished appropriately… they broke the rules and they got caught. The thing that I think sucks is that every other big program is doing the same thing. We all know it, but without any hard evidence, nothing ever happens. Every few years, someone new has to fall on the dagger, and that’s something that I definitely agree with.

  • Vengeful Pat

    *something that I agree with Andrew about, that is… I don’t agree that it should happen like that.

  • humboldt

    I like the analogy to treating symptoms of a disease but ignoring the underlying etiology. Having burned Tressel at the stake, we are still left with a diseased culture of NCAA sports.

    However, I am uncomfortable both with the hagiography of Tressel (present to some degree in Andrew’s piece) and the extreme vitriol (present in the SI “raffle-rigger” piece, which goes to absurd lengths to smear his image). Tressel is clearly a well-intentioned man who seems to have been caught up in the all-too-human cycles of hubris and willful ignorance that plague the powerful.

  • Harv 21

    If Tressel is the guy you think he is he would never defend himself with arguments like the rules are idiotic or that this was a victimless crime. He knew the reporting rules in his sleep, criticized other coaches who broke those rules and broke them to protect the eligibility of his star during a push for the championship. Let him start the arduous journey to rehabilitate his image. He wasn’t slipping meal money to a hungry Pryor. Don’t lessen the man further with excuses which have no relevance to the charges. If a coach does not immediately report rule violations and withholds info from NCAA investigators no rule can be enforced.

  • bayrocket

    *bullsh!t*

    Tressel thought he was bigger than the system — even if the system is flawed — and he and OSU will pay for this dearly. And it looks like there has been a pattern of behavior here.

    I’m pissed Pres. Gee didn’t do at OSU what he did at Vandy and try to exercise more control over the athletic department.

  • Kai

    Andrew, (and I ask this in all seriousness) do you think you (we) would feel the same way if Mack Brown or RichRod was facing the same accusations? Or would we be on the other side of the fence, pitchforks in hand?

    It appears to be a common refrain that “Most big-time programs are doing this…but isn’t that just as much hearsay as the SI article? It just seems to me that, perhaps as a psychological imperative, the more personal beliefs/experiences/connections are attacked, the more defensive we become.

    For instance, there is a direct link between the severity of hazing at Fraternities/Sororities and the level of satisfaction people derive from those experiences….the more you are hazed, the more likely you are to look back fondly on those times. After all, no one wants to feel that they would participate in something, or believe in something, that was foolish/unjust/wrong/unnecessary, etc.

    So up until this weekend the university supported Tress unconditionally, and now he’s asked to resign. Seems to me that I just heard the sound of bus tires mowing down Coach Tressel while he’s already down…

  • Kai

    Sorry for the convoluted post, but I was attempting to point out that as more damaging information surrounding the program comes to light, many of us are becoming even more defensive…. discrediting every single piece of evidence, regardless of merit.

    Most fans cannot help but attempt to assuage themselves with excuses. It is a basic tenet of psychology.

  • matt tag

    “Nobody has been able to explain where the harm lies in allowing these kids to earn a little extra on the side. So a kid can get a tattoo or a car for signing some useless junk. Who cares? How is that affecting anyone else’s life?”

    It’s not a problem, until the guy supplying the car/tattoo asks the kid to throw a game or drop a TD pass in a blowout to keep the point spread on one side or the other. Then it’s a problem.

  • tribefan30

    If the speedlimit on a highway is 55, and you drive 55, you will get passes all day long. So you start to see everyone else driving 60 and nothing happens to them and you think to yourself, this is stupid, why should I drive 55 and get passed when everyone else goes 60-65. So we start to drive faster, we all know its against the law, and at times we may even pass a cop at 60-65 and nothing happens. We start to feel like its normal and whats the harm. Every now and then we all take our turns paying our ticket, and moving on.

    I just cant get over the OSU fans who are shocked and appalled by any of this. If you think a university can drive 55 and still win the race then you are way too naive. I look at players selling things for cash as getting caught going 58 in a 55. Tressel got caught going 62 in a 55. But I believe there are others out there going 70 in a 55, they just have better radar detectors.

  • http://www.HeroClixWorld.com The Le

    I take GREAT delight at hearing of the downfall of OSU. The system has been problematic for a long time now and OSU should take as much fall and blame as Tressel. OSU is part of the problem, just as every other college that takes part in this corruption is. With luck, other colleges and their poor decisions will cause their downfalls too.

  • The Other Tim

    “There are highly trained, highly educated compliance officials hired by the University whose job it is to OVERLOOK everything ”

    Maybe choose a different word here.

  • http://n/a Mike

    I am primarily an NFL fan, but I wanted to chime in. Andrew, what I am disappointed about is your whole post discusses the flaws of the National COLLEGE Athletic Association system. First, I totally agree with you. However, you fail to put it in the appropriate perspective. We are all at fault for treating COLLEGE sports as psuedo-professionals. I have similar stories of being ridiculously broke in college, why is it a travesty if the athletes are ridiculously broke too? You also point out there is no other way to “consistently win at an elite level.” Well duh! It’s a UNIVERSITY for educating people, not for making money in tv ratings! I’m a die-hard Browns fan and we can’t win consistently at an elite level. Is that really so bad? (well, ok, but that’s different:) Andrew, you are absolutely right, but you’ve missed the boat at what the true draw of people is to college ball – it’s the innocence and sincereity of a student’s heart in the game that people love and it should never come at the price of thinking that “consistently winning” is the model guiding principle.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Andrew, your assessment of this situation reads like the ramblings of a psychological abuse victim…and I mean that in the most constructive way possible. By the end of your article, I came to the conclusion that the biggest victim in this scenario is, in your opinion, you.

    The most interesting thing to come out of Tressel’s ordeal has been the discussion regarding ethical behavior, and I must say, it has been eye-opening to see what some people think is both morally and ethically acceptable. It is a “shame” that the OSU football program will take a competitive hit. However, the tone of your article suggests that it is equally shameful that the NCAA’s rules exist at all, and I just don’t buy that. Sure, the NCAA makes a lot of money (as does OSU), but the players and coaches all sign up voluntarily to participate while following the rules.

    Their are other ways to succeed in life beyond throwing or catching a football. The other 99% of us seem to figure that out at some point in our lives. Let’s not paint these “kids” (who are, in reality, very much adults) as victims who are entitled to do whatever “everyone else is doing” because they don’t agree with the rules of an organization they joined voluntarily.

    Tressel didn’t need to be a babysitter to his players to avoid the tattoo scandal. The info was delivered to him on a platter. If he would have reported it, the buckeyes may not have won the sugar bowl, but their coach would still have a job. Tressel would have been seen as a crusader for honesty in college sports.

  • Natedawg

    Why can’t the atheletes on scholarships get college loans and use that money for phones, cars, food, etc? There should be something like this in place since there are huge problems with kids getting stuff they need(minus tattoos and maybe the weed) by the wrong means. Figure out what the right amount is, add 25% and set it up in a loan.

  • NJ

    Yes, Tressel is the victim. He knowingly ignored and broke the rules while pocketing millions of dollars a year. Such an injustice.

  • 5KMD

    “It’s not a problem, until the guy supplying the car/tattoo asks the kid to throw a game or drop a TD pass in a blowout to keep the point spread on one side or the other. Then it’s a problem.”

    My thoughts exactly. It’s like when Pete Rose explained that he only bet for the Reds. That works until you get into a $500,000 hole and the bookie says all you have to do is lose tomorrow and we are good.

    Very slippery slope.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Mike…

    You, good sir, have accomplished what skilled carpenters call “hitting the nail on the head.”

  • BuckeyeDawg

    I would be in favor of a system where the athletes get a small stipend of spending money to help lessen the temptation to break the rules…with the understanding that if they then break said rules, they are done. Scholarship revoked, kicked off the team. Period.

    It’s my understanding that if a student gets caught plagiarizing a paper or cheating on an exam, they can be kicked out of school. Same idea.

    A four game suspension is apparently not enough of a penalty to get these guys to think about what they are doing.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    @ BuckeyeDawg – they do get a stipend in the current setup.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    Well, something’s not working. We either need to increase the size of the carrot or the size of the stick.

  • oregon duck

    Big money produces fine entertainment. People choose to spend their saturdays as they please, or, like millions, working to make ends meet. I choose mine working in my yard in Oregon’s beautiful autumn, maybe watching the Ducks on TV once in while, then going to church on Sunday. But the only thing that really matters when enjoying life is that we do it while playing by the rules, not trying to skirt them, or wishing they didn’t exist. Until a portion of our population accepts this responsibility, angst will remain amongst us.

  • Steve

    I don’t get the attack on Dohrmann at all. You may not think that college sports are better off, but the truth still matters. If Tressel is blatantly flaunting the rules when everybody turns their back, we don’t get to just look at what he did when everyone was watching. I’m not sure why Tressel-apologist can’t see that there are multiple dimensions to people. Tressel may have been a great guy who helped out a lot of kids. But you can do that at the same time that you fix raffles, or, time after time ignores any possible indiscretions, or repeatedly lie to keep players on the field so that you can win a few more games.

    What’s actually a shame is that some random blogger wants to pass judgment regarding journalistic integrity on a Pulitzer Prize winner. When USC went through this process, no one here had a problem with it. If Michigan had these problems instead, no one would have a problem with journalistic integrity.

    And lastly, you mention that one or two disgruntled individuals can bring everything down. Excellent point, as long as you remember that the one individual is Jim Tressel. No one else here had the power to get Ohio St to the point it is at today. If it was just about kids needing spending money for necessities, or hell even for luxuries like tattoos and cars, we’d see some slaps on the wrist, and everyone would go on their merry way, much like what happened with AJ Green and Georgia. This is about Tressel helping create and build that ‘culture of corruption’ and ‘lack of institutional control’ that you want to put on anyone and everyone but the guy who deserves it the most.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew

    @Steve: I’m not debating the truth of the article. As I have said repeatedly, this stuff has gone on before Tressel and it will continue to happen after him. My issue was with the tone and the self congratulatory nature of it. The way he puffed his chest out and made sure everyone knew that he was the reason Jim Tressel resigned (which I’m not even sure is really all that true).

    And seriously, people, read the article. I plainly said that this is Tressel’s fault and that he should have done the right thing. “This is about Tressel helping create and build that ‘culture of corruption’ and ‘lack of institutional control’ that you want to put on anyone and everyone but the guy who deserves it the most.”

    I would counter with

    “We can make excuses, we can point out how ridiculous the rules are and how unquestionable silly it is that he lost his livelihood all because he didn’t tell anyone that some of his players sold their own stuff for cash and tattoos, but none of that matters today. All of that is true, but it doesn’t matter because rules are rules. He broke them, he left a paper trail in the form of those emails, and he lied about it when the issue first broke.”

    I don’t know how much more clear I can be. This was Jim Tressel’s fault, and under the rules as they exist today, he deserves any and all punishment he received.

  • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    The irony in all this is Ohio State has no one to blame but themselves.

    The NCAA doesn’t make the rules, they enforce the rules.

    It’s people like Gordon Gee, who have this fairy tale idea of “amateur” athletics on the college level that never existed in the first place, who push through the exact rules the players broke, setting off the chain of events.

    It’s ridiculous that the players can’t sell items that are given to them. It was ridiculous that A.J. Green got in trouble for doing it, and it was ridiculous that the Ohio State players got in trouble for it.

    But the rules are there and, as an institution, you don’t get to pick and choose which rules you follow. Especially if you are an adult tasked with following the rules.

    Maybe its time for the membership schools in the NCAA to take a step back and rethink what is really important and what’s not. If the NCAA didn’t have to enforce the silly rules the schools asked for, they would have more time to go after the people that are really doing something wrong.

  • Steve

    Andrew – your tone in telling people to ‘read the article’ is no better than what you are making Dohrmann’s out to be. People did read the article. It’s just that you’re all over the damn place. And even in the quote you do mention, you don’t really blame Tressel. You call the rules “ridiculous” and yesterday’s result “silly” because “[Tressel] didn’t tell anyone”. Regardless of how big a deal a tattoo is, lying to your compliance guys, or your bosses, or the NCAA should bring about what’s happened to the program over the past few months.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew

    So you think it’s impossible for me to think Tressel is wrong in what he did while also thinking the rules are ridiculous?

    “Regardless of how big a deal a tattoo is, lying to your compliance guys, or your bosses, or the NCAA should bring about what’s happened to the program over the past few months.”

    This is EXACTLY what I was saying.

  • Harv 21

    Andrew, that is not how I read your article. Did you compose the headline which deems Tressel “just the latest victim”?

    And this: “but a big part of the reason Tressel got himself into so much trouble was precisely because he tried to act as a compliance official on his own. Rather than letting the experts handle it, he decided to deal with it himself.” I see, after decades of NCAA coaching, attending and speaking at conferences that discussed do’s and don’t's, blasting coaches who lie to the NCAA, he got himself all twisted by not ringing up the school’s compliance toady to see if he should report his star selling school merchandise for goodies. Really, that was a big part of it? Should he have consulted with compliance toady to see if he should tell the NCAA investigator the truth?

  • Garry Owen

    Andrew is exactly right. The compliance officials aren’t “toadies,” and Tressel knew this. It’s part of the reason that he chose to do it himself, which was stupid.

    OSU has self-reported more violations than any other institution – through the compliance “toadies.” All of these were known to the NCAA. The irony is that the university was okay through all of those. For Tressel to try to handle it himself was stupid.

    Frankly, the NCAA really doesn’t have much issue with shady goings-on, as long as they know about them. It’s when they don’t know, but then find out later, that you have a problem.

  • Matt

    Andrew

    The headline is incredibly misleading and probably should be changed. You clearly are not withholding blame from Tressel (even though you are a little easy on him), and the headline makes it sound like you’re not giving Tressel any blame. Having said all that, I really enjoyed this piece. You really throw a lot at us, but I agree with almost all of your points, particularly your main point that even though Ohio State and Jim Tressel are at fault, this “scandal” is not so much an indictment of them as it is yet another reminder that the NCAA is broken.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew

    @Harv: That is absolutely, 100% why he is not coaching today. Had he just turned this over to the compliance office and let them deal with the problem, the players would have been suspended and Tressel would still be coaching.

    And for the rest of you guys, you’re right, I made a mistake in using the word ‘victim’ in the headline. It’s just really hard to summarize a 2400 word thesis on the issues in college football into one headline. Writing the headlines is always my least favorite part.

  • CLEFAN4LIFE

    This headline is apalling, but the article is a bit better. It’s amazing how many OSU fans want to blame the system, blame other universities or blame the media. It’s reality check time, there’s a culture of improper benefits in Columbus, there was one at YSU and Tressel was caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

    As far as I’m concerned, he cheated his way to the top and cheated to stay at the top. He’ll leave a multimillionaire and beloved by most, when behind closed doors he’s a crooked cheat.

    He reminds me of the pastor that gets caught having an affair with a staff member. Sure, that pastor at his core is probably a really decent person, but he made awful decisions and there’s no excuses and no one else to blame. Don’t play with fire and not expect to get burned. Tressel let himself go down the wrong path and tried to cover it up with charity and saying the right thing.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    @ CLEFAN – ‘There’s a culture of improper benefits in Columbus, there was one at YSU and Tressel was caught with his hand in the cookie jar.’

    Ray Isaac will tell you otherwise.

  • Harv 21

    @28/Garry: “It’s part of the reason that he chose to do it himself, which was stupid.”

    Wait, what do you think he was trying to do himself, interpret and comply with NCAA regs? He chose to try to smother the news and keep his players and season going. And telling lies to investigators is lying, not “self help.” Or maybe I don’t understand what you and Andrew are saying. Hard to believe you interpret what happened as a misguided but sincere attempt to comply. But not even Tressel has said that since the news of the additional emails and calls came out.

  • Jim

    The title of this post is exactly why, despite having grown up in Ohio amongst a sea of Scarlet and Gray and remaining a die hard Cleveland fan my entire life, I simply cannot stand Ohio State fans. Come on Andrew, “victims”!?

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    I think Tressel going down is such a more compelling media story because of the image he tried to project at OSU. For years other schools have been going down for violations and the OSU faithful and Tressel in his little scarlet sweater have snubbed their noses at these individuals. If the school was in the SEC the general opinion out of COlumbus was they’re all undereducated, overzealous football nuts. THey would point to their star student-athletes and say to each other, “Thank God we dont recruit those thugs/cheaters. Thank God we have the Senator leading this team”.

    Well now, the man who has authored books on integrity, teamwork, and sportsmanship is finally biting the bullet that he seems to have dodged since the 80′s. As a non-OSU fan, its sweet justice to my ears and every other fan in the country who at least suspected that OSU was no cleaner a program than some of the other big programs.

    OSU fans cant get upset at the media lashing their taking but when Tressel and OSU fans prop themselves up on a pedestal as the example of morality in NCAA football, the fall is going to be a little bit further and its going to hurt a lot more.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    *can get upset

  • Garry Owen

    @ Harv:

    Come on, man. Andrew’s premise was that Tressel attempted “to act as a compliance official himself;” i.e., trying to police the matter independently, bypassing the proper authorities, and filing to report it AS HE SHOULD HAVE DONE. It’s right there in his post.

    My point is that (to the extent that he was actually thinking about NCAA violations, which is certainly debatable outside of the party line that ESPN vomits and so many people faithfully digest) Tressel knew that the OSU compliance officials are not “toadies,” as you unfoundedly allege; thus, he tried to police it himself because he didn’t want the NCAA to know. He’s guilty of a really stupid decision in doing so – particularly when the OSU “toadies” have kept the university, athletic program, and football team in such good graces with the NCAA for so long.

    I don’t know how to be more clear about it, or how Andrew could be more clear (not that the last diatribe is Andrew’s – it’s entirely mine).

  • Garry Owen

    That should be “failing to report.” We really need an edit function . . .

    (And that last response sounded much more snippy than I meant it to be – but there it is.)

  • Garry Owen

    So I heard an interesting theory today from a diehard, old-time, Penn State lifer. According to him, the NCAA is coming down so hard on Tressel and OSU because they needed to find a “decent, honest. Paterno-like program” to throw the book at in order to send a message to the the real bad actors (i.e., the SEC). If I understand his thinking, the NCAA is doing back flips that a guy like Tressel and a program like OSU screwed up so badly and so openly. They can throw the proverbial book at the Buckeyes and send some truly unbridled programs that they’d really like to nail a strong message: “Look what we did to Tressel and OSU! You better watch out!”

    It drips of conspiracy, but considering the source – a really smart guy that certainly has no love for OSU – I think it is intriguing. It feels like a good mafia crime syndicate movie where the boss takes down a formerly trusted underling for some small “dishonor” simply to send a message; which also feels about right. I’m picturing Jim Tressel and OSU in a small fishing boat with the NCAA sitting comfortably in their office . . .