The whitewashing of Jim Tressel's legacy continues apace in Columbus, as Tressel was hailed alongside the rest of the national-championship-winning 2002 Buckeyes team at Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
In fact, that undersells the adulation heaped upon Tressel. The 2002 Buckeyes hoisted him onto their shoulders, carrying him off the field as the crowd cheered raucously.
Think about that: Jim Tressel, the guy whose blatant disregard for NCAA regulations led to this season's postseason ban, is being treated like a hero on the same day Ohio State's season is ending prematurely.
No Big Ten championship? Blame Tressel. No bowl game? Blame Tressel. No shot at the BCS championship? Blame Tressel. Tressel shows up to get nostalgic about a 10-year-old title? Cheer Tressel.
It's a shame the 2002 Ohio State marching band couldn't file onto the field and then spell out "irony" in script.
It's OK if Ohio State fans don't want to demonize Tressel. He was, quite possibly, the best coach in Ohio State history—while he wasn't turning a blind eye to serious eligibility concerns, anyway. He dominated Michigan, which is an obviously big deal to Ohio State fans. He won a national title, took the Buckeyes to two more BCS title games, won seven Big Ten championships in 10 years and finished in the top fives in both the AP and coaches' polls in seven years.
He also committed the worst NCAA violations of any coach in Ohio State history. His firing was earned, as was the show-cause penalty the NCAA hit him with as part of the sanctions levied against Ohio State.
So while Tressel's legacy is still good enough that we don't expect OSU to pretend Tressel doesn't exist for the rest of time, it does seem just a bit early to go hailing him while his sanctions are still hanging over the program.
And yet there the Buckeye faithful were in Ohio Stadium, slavishly cheering on Tressel as he was carried off the field by his old players. Those fans looked like they were having a great time in the process. That's great. They can think about those good feelings during the Big Ten championship and the entire bowl season as they—and their team—sit at home.
All thanks to Jim Tressel.
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