I'm a Big Ten guy who didn't go to Ohio State, which means I hate Ohio State. (Transparency, y'know?) But let me come right out and say this: Ohio State is getting robbed.
The Ohio State University is 11-0, ranked No. 4 in the country and would as of this writing be third in the BCS behind Notre Dame and Alabama in the BCS rankings (per a Bleacher Report analysis.) But the Buckeyes are absent from the BCS polls because the NCAA likes to pretend it has integrity.
The NCAA banned Ohio State from postseason play this season because five players admitted to receiving freebies and discounts in exchange for memorabilia, and it turned out the Ohio State coach knew about it.
I grew up in Chicago. When Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was accused of putting a vacant Senate up for sale to the highest bidder, much of his defense could be reduced to, "Um, this is Illinois. Everyone knows that's how we do things here."
Rod was right. We did know that. No native Chicagoan was surprised by the revelation that the seat was for sale. We know that's how the system works.
No one was surprised that college football players traded memorabilia for tattoos, including Jim Tressel, because everyone knows they do that. Ohio State got caught doing what everyone knows goes on at every major college program in the country, and the team that is in place two years after the fact is left to pay the price.
Which statement is more true?
I understand there has to be a governing body, and I understand that if Tressel had followed one very simple rule this would not have happened, but to punish players who weren't even on the team at the time for transgressions committed by a coach they've never met...that doesn't much seem like a good way to "protect student-athletes."
That seems like a good way to make a morally corrupt organization appear to have integrity when it does not.