For Love and Honor? Wins and greed appear to trump honesty and integrity for Tressel and Ohio State football

10 Mar

Here’s a great opinion piece by Detroit News’ Bob Wojnowski on how OSU’s 2-game suspension is a slap on the wrist:

We know Tressel won't be on the field against Akron & Toledo, but the Buckeyes should be able to roll out of bed & beat those MAC teams with a bartender from Columbus' Park Street Cantina playing HC.

Ohio State’s punishment for Jim Tressel is a joke

It’s comical and fake and borderline insulting. Jim Tressel did about the worst job imaginable trying to explain his program’s ugliest misdeed, quasi-apologizing for whatever it was he did, or didn’t do, or should have done.

Ohio State football is reeling, and Tressel will need all the Teflon he can pack inside his sweater vest. The NCAA needs to keep looking and keep hammering, and keep asking why it was misled and duped about the involvement of five players in a memorabilia-for-tattoos setup.

The Buckeyes’ 2010 season must be thrown under immediate scrutiny for the use of ineligible players, with all the victories possibly wiped out. Tressel has earned multiple layers of Teflon in 10 years with Ohio State. Winning does that, and beating Michigan does that.

But if you think Ohio State is untouchable, you probably thought Michigan was untouchable. Whatever you think of the seriousness of the NCAA violations under Rich Rodriguez, Michigan owned up to it.

The difference here is the coach’s standing. Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee practically giggled when he said Tressel wouldn’t be fired, and even joked he hoped the coach wouldn’t dismiss the president.

I half-expected during his rambling comments Tuesday night for Tressel to do one of those fake coughs and mutter under his breath, “Nine, cough-cough, and one.” That’s his record against Michigan, which is why he can lie and get away with it. Well, he didn’t totally get away with it, suspended two games and fined $250,000. Those two games are against Akron and Toledo, which is ridiculous.

At the very least, Tressel should be suspended for the same five games as five of the players — Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, Solomon Thomas — involved in Tattoo-gate. This is Buckeyes buffoonery at its finest, and after years of watching the Ohio State beat up on Michigan, it’s fascinating to watch the behemoth’s lips quiver.

Coach does nothing

Rivalries are great, and hey, maybe the Wolverines are partly culpable for Tressel’s arrogance because their failures added to his stature. But there also are signs the Buckeyes are willing to pay a higher cost to stay on top, as they again dance around eligibility issues with players.

Tressel is a tremendous coach, 106-22 in Columbus, including a national title with the troubled Maurice Clarett. But what he tried to pull here is deplorable, misleading the NCAA and lying to his bosses, then pretending it was all about protecting a couple of players in the midst of a confidential federal drug investigation.

Tressel probably would have kept deceiving if the school didn’t discover e-mails from the attorney who first alerted him players were exchanging memorabilia for cash and tattoos.

The tattoo parlor owner, Eddie Rife, apparently was a target of the federal investigation, and upon learning this in April, Tressel did what any deeply concerned, father-figure coach would do:He did nothing. He reported it to nobody because he said he didn’t know who to report it to.

He kept practicing the players, then used them all season, until the story finally came out in December. Even then, Ohio State made darn sure the players were eligible to beat Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, with the backing of Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. You think Delany feels duped today?

In the e-mails released by school officials, the confidentiality request wasn’t made by the lawyer until the second one, two weeks after the first. And Tressel’s response decidedly was tepid. That makes it even more laughable when he talks about keeping quiet because he was “scared.”

Scared of drug guys? Or scared of going into the Buckeyes 2010 season without Pryor and other stars?

“Thanks for your help … keep me posted as to what I need to do if anything,” Tressel wrote back to the unnamed lawyer.

History of violations

Even if Tressel legitimately was confused and truly thought he was protecting his players, and even though it violated his contract by not reporting an NCAA violation to his superiors, how does he justify lying in December? Tressel said he knew nothing about it until then, although the e-mails confirmed he knew in April.

An uncovered cover-up always makes it worse. I know Tressel has an image of a conservative, honorable man, but ask yourself this: Does an accomplished head coach, at the age of 58, suddenly develop an affinity for deception?

Considering the Buckeyes reportedly have 375 self-admitted (mostly minor) violations the past 10 years, and previous stars Clarett and Troy Smith were suspended for various offenses, it’s hard to believe this is Tressel’s first ride on the Double-Speak Deception Carousel. In fact, he has NCAA violations going to his days as the coach at Youngstown State.

Tressel said he was sincerely saddened by the whole affair, but you wonder if he’s sincerely sorry. Saddened he got caught, I’m sure, and sorry the strength of the Teflon Tress Vest is finally being tested.

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