For a school that is supposed to be a leader in higher education that grooms students for positions of future leadership and responsibility, the stunning self-imposed penalties Ohio State University placed upon itself would be better served as SNL monologue fodder.
Jim Tressel, the school’s self-proclaimed wonder coach making $3.7 million per year, will sit for two games and pay $250k in fines while his team opens against cream puffs next season. Oh, the horror of it all!
In a related story, on the way home immediately after, OSU President E. Gordon Gee kicked a sleeping rabid wild boar to see if it would chew his leg off.
This is the same E. Gordon Gee who late last season earned himself praise and admiration for suggesting then-undefeated TCU and Boise State were not worthy to play in a bowl game of any significance. As if that was any of his business.
How stupid are these Ohio State guys? It's like they're dangling fresh meat in front of the carnivores that run the NCAA.
Let’s break it down.
Back in December, before the team played in the Sugar Bowl, five star players, including starting QB Terrelle Pryor, were discovered to have traded autographs for free tattoos in a seedy parlor for a cash value rumored to be in the tens of dollars. Certainly not the big bucks this future top 20 pick NFL quarterback will garner, but astounding in knuckleheadedness nonetheless.
Turned out later that these five nimrods actually were hawking championship ring holders (huh?), game jerseys and awards for a “financial arrangement” yet to be determined.
None of this was too bright, for if the college gestapo otherwise known as the NCAA rules infractions committee got a hold of this scheme, anything could happen. The NCAA, not known for being hesitant to impose penalties on violations, must be salivating at all of this, since they've nailed programs for far less!
Two decades ago Hall of Fame coach Don James’ University of Washington football program was hammered with several years of probation and TV bans due to the crime of handing out free bowls of mushy fruit to football recruits.
You don’t want to get these NCAA nerds all riled, because you never know which repeat criminal they might drum up to testify against your storied program for unrelated matters.
Yet here was Jim Tressel, a 58-year-old who was supposed to be an example of honesty to otherwise integrity-challenged youngsters, not only failing to report that he knew all about this "Tattoogate" scheme, but in fact was actually going to extremes to hide the information!
As news of the event broke, Tressel responded, “I’m very sorry and disappointed it happened. At the time the situation occurred, I thought I was doing the right thing. I understand my duty to represent Ohio State and play football. I apologize to everyone and all the people I failed.”
Turns out emails emails prove that Tressel actually DID know he was doing the wrong thing. Not only did he know about what was going on, he had known about it for a good eight months prior.
The coach, the leader, the man responsible for policing this kind of activity, deliberately decided to shuffle all of this under the rug in hopes it went away. Which, of course, it did not, and now he’s been caught with his hand even deeper in the cookie jar.
Nor is this the first time Tressel has been involved with NCAA rules shenanigans.
There was that little incident with Maurice Clarett several years ago, and the one with Troy Smith, and before that at Youngstown State, where one of his players was alleged to have received benefits from a booster.
But in all previous cases the university did almost nothing in response, as it did this time, until the NCAA started wimpering. Mostly because Tressel has racked up a record of 106-22 in 10 seasons that includes a national championship.
All of which makes this latest episode even more absurd, given that the same NCAA rules enforcement folks just finished socking it to USC last summer.
And because of what they did to USC, the NCAA was lambasted for allowing Cam Newton to play all season after merely hand-slapping the five Ohio State studs last year. Meanwhile Trojan fans were justifiably beside themselves.
Think about it. If these OSU players decided to come back (which at the time, they may not have), only then would they have to sit out these five games. But the penalty was not enforced during the year they were caught red-handed. Nope, not with the Buckeyes smack dab in the middle of chasing down a title!
The case of Mike Adams, Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey, Dan Herron and Solomon Thomas had college opponents hopping mad to begin with. And now with Tressel aiding and abetting, what would the Auburns and Oregons of the world think—especially when their programs are in the crosshairs of our pals in Indianapolis?
Obviously the NCAA has to do something to Tressel, if it ever hopes to have credibility while sticking it to other programs caught fibbing on their exams!
If you allowed the weak penalties Ohio State put on themselves to stand, Tressel would get off for less than half the penalty the five guys he was protecting were having to serve! How is that fair when the buck is supposed to stop with Tressel?!
Any way you slice it, this situation is clearly going to get worse once the contingent of wannabe CIA agents shows up and starts digging under rocks. So one would wonder, just what on earth the administration of Ohio State is thinking?
A couple of warm-up games against hated and feared opponents Akron and Toledo? You cannot be serious!
Ohio State apparently feels that the trigger-happy NCAA, already being laughed at and mocked for its inconsistency depending on which school is involved, is not going to drill Ohio State with a hootenanny of new penalties?
So as the Buckeye administration puffs out their chests for the swift and just action they took against their beloved coach, the rest of the college world roars in laughter at what a joke this whole matter has become!