Is anyone else tired of hearing fans defend the indefensible?
As someone who has covered the Tennessee Vols basketball and football programs through the most tumultuous times in school history, I, for one, am ready to see fans transition into logically thinking adults.
Yes, fan is short for fanatic. While we all know what fanatics are capable of—see religious extremism and soccer hooliganism—a line has to be drawn when it comes to approving of the dishonesty and cheating from their favorite sports team.
Yet that line is routinely crossed by good, upstanding, moral people when it comes to their team.
After Lane Kiffin's multitude of secondary violations during his first and only season at Tennessee, I called for his firing. Kiffin was clearly going to land the Tennessee program, which I grew up rooting for, in a heap of NCAA trouble.
Tennessee fans literally raked me over the coals for my stance on Kiffin. I was called names that I didn't even know existed for even suggesting that this supposed wunderkind be held responsible for his outrageous behavior as the head coach of the Vols.
When Kiffin abruptly left the program a little more than a month later, those same fans burned couches and threatened his wife. Now, over a year later, Kiffin awaits his punishment from the NCAA for his many transgressions at Tennessee.
Bruce Pearl lied to NCAA investigators about illegal contact with a high school junior. He threw himself at the mercy of the school and the NCAA. He cried at his "falling on the sword" press conference last September. Four days after falling on his sword, he committed another violation.
Yet there are still plenty of Pearl backers who lambaste any media member that would have the audacity to suggest Pearl be fired or suspended indefinitely.
Now, scandal has hit the Ohio State football program. At the center of the scandal is a much-revered head coach whose nickname happens to be "the senator."
Yahoo! Sports broke a story late Monday evening that revealed head coach Jim Tressel knew about the tattoo-for-memorabilia exchange between a local tattoo artist and five of the Buckeyes' key players at least eight months prior to the school's December acknowledgement of the situation.
At the most disastrous press conference in recent college football history, Tressel actually admitted that he didn't know who to contact when he received the emails detailing two of his players' involvement with the tattoo shop.
Really? The longtime head coach at one of the most prestigious football programs in the country didn't understand what to do when approached about illegal activity taking place among some of his star players?
Regardless of the federal investigation into the matter, Tressel had an obligation to, at the very least, mention the multiple emails to his superiors.
Apparently, Ohio State did not take Tressel's transgressions seriously. The school's punishment of a $250,000 fine and a two-game suspension is a complete joke.
The Big Ten could add to the sanctions, just as the SEC suspended Pearl for eight conference games, but it's not likely that Tressel will face anywhere near that type of punishment from the conference. The NCAA should weigh in sometime within the next five years, or, more likely, a month or two after Tressel has retired from coaching.
Despite the self-inflicted mess surrounding the program, Ohio State fans and apologists have come out of the woodwork to publicly chastise everyone from Yahoo! Sports to the NCAA for picking on their newly embattled head coach.
Isn't it human nature to disapprove of lying? How is it okay for me to discipline my child for lying, yet approve of it when my favorite sports team is involved?
I can understand being loyal to your school or team, but being loyal to a head coach who put the program at risk in order win at all costs or to save his own skin is beyond me.
Ask yourself this question: If I knowingly withheld information that could ultimately affect my job performance from my superiors at work, how long would it take for me to lose my job once my employers found out? Probably not long.
Just as Pearl and Kiffin deserved at Tennessee, Jim Tressel should be terminated immediately. Considering the sickening level of support for such individuals at Tennessee and, now, Ohio State, that termination will likely never happen.
It's the fact that most fans not only seem cool with that arrangement, but openly cheer for it, that should make anyone who loves college athletics hang their head in shame.
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