Jim Tressel Suspension: What's Really the Deal Here? A Michigan Perspective

DJ WalkerCorrespondent IMarch 18, 2011

Photo Courtesy of http://www.midwestsportsfans.com/2009/09/fire-jim-tressel/
Photo Courtesy of http://www.midwestsportsfans.com/2009/09/fire-jim-tressel/

At this point you've all seen the headlines surrounding OSU's Jim Tressel and his Pryor (see what I did there?) knowledge of the Tat Five and the university handing out a seemingly weak two-game suspension, followed up by the most recent development, Tressel offering up another three-game sacrifice at the altar of the NCAA in an act of contrition.

This has, in turn, caused a lot of the college football community to simultaneously lose their minds.

I've been kind of monitoring the reactions of Tresselgate 2011 from the safety of the confines of my office while simultaneously trying to formulate my own objective opinion, objective being the key word there.

You see, at first I found myself identifying with a lot of other Michigan fans out there that are saying things like, "If the NCAA buys this BS move from Tressel, it would be a travesty. That guy is such a slimeball," and clamoring for a one-year suspension or removal from the program. 

Some people are saying that OSU should have to forfeit scholarships and bowl appearances like USC. Should it really? It's not like the university was paying the Tat Five; it's just that Tressel knew about improper benefits and didn't report them. 

[Edit / Update type-substance]

Really the first couple of paragraphs from the article on the Orlando Sentinel is all you need to see in regards to the internet meltdown over Tressel but here's the full link anyway:

Now that Tennessee has fired Bruce Pearl, isn’t it only a matter of time before Jim Tressel resigns at Ohio State and former Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer takes over?

I am convinced of it.

Obviously Meyer wants to decompress, take some time off from coaching and spend some quality time with his family. And he will get a chance to do just that this season while the vultures circle Tressel at Ohio State. With Tennessee firing basketball coach Bruce Pearl on Monday for similar transgressions to Tressel’s, it’s inevitable that Ohio State will eventually pull the plug on Tressel, too.


So what's really the deal here? Are we (collectively) trying to crucify Jim Tressel because we hate Ohio State or because what he did is really so horrible? If this was Robin Pflugrad at Montana, would the community (us) really care all that much? Assuming that the story even made national headlines, would we be shouting for a bigger suspension or sanctions against the school?

I'm not trying to downplay what Jim Tressel did (or actually didn't do). The thing about lying is that it makes it harder for people to trust you in the future. If a player or a group of players screws up in the future, can he be trusted to take appropriate actions in compliance with NCAA regulations? Are the self-imposed sanctions enough of a penalty? Those are tough questions to answer.

A lot of Michigan fans have been quick to point out Michigan State fans being immature about "it's been X days since Michigan beat us in football or men's basketball."

Michigan fans have been quick to point out how MSU fans overreacted to the "Little Brother" comment from Mike Hart or how they turned it around and started using "Little Sister" in reference to Michigan.

Let those be cautionary tales of how schadenfreude can come back to haunt someone. The point here goes back to the original key word: objectivity. Sit back and let the NCAA handle the situation (I'm sure their final ruling will please no one anyway) because, especially in the age of the Internet, where our comments are forever immortalized, what we say could come back to haunt us in the future.

The NCAA is currently investigating Oregon and its own recruiting scandal. Right now FOX is looking at Michigan commit Chris Barnett and his "winding road to Michigan." With as tight as the NCAA is holding the leash these days, don't be surprised if the NCAA starts squinting in Michigan's general direction (again). Compliance is a big issue, and it's not going to get better for anyone any time soon.