It appears that the garbage man decided to take out the post Memorial Day trash a day early. Amid the smell of freshly cut grass, grilled meat and fireworks today you’d have to think that in Columbus, Ohio, this revelation may actually allow fans to remix their cheer. A little bit less of the H-I, and a bit more emphasis on the O.
Jim Tressel has resigned as head football coach of The Ohio State University, for now adding another layer to one of the more memorable offseasons of college football tomfoolery in recent memory.
We shouldn’t be shocked, rather we should be wondering why it didn’t happen sooner. Tressel’s place in modern college football is solid. He’s been in three BCS National Championship Games, winning the 2002 National Title against the Miami Hurricanes, has seven Big Ten Conference Championships and a 9-1 record against Michigan. His winning percentage of .828 is even better than OSU legend Woody Hayes.
Departures of OSU head football coaches mysteriously may have more to do with the hands than we’ve thought. Hayes ended his career by punching a Clemson player in the throat in the 1978 Gator Bowl, John Cooper couldn’t put enough rings on players during his 12-year tenure and Tressel’s teams have sold so many rings that making a call to Columbus could get you a five-minute conversation with a Hobbit.
Tressel is a good coach, but a school like OSU has standards, and they made the right move by effectively allowing Tressel to drop himself like a bad habit. What we don’t know about the program could be the scariest thing yet. People are even throwing around the word “death penalty.” What we do know is that the program at the least has a lack of institutional control.
1) In December 2010, Ohio State’s football program was under the microscope as six players were suspended by the NCAA for selling and trading memorabilia and other uniforms to Edward Rife, a Columbus tattoo-parlor owner. These players were allowed to play by the NCAA in the 2011 Sugar Bowl 31-26 victory over Arkansas.
2) In January 2011, the university learned that Tressel had prior knowledge of the shenanigans taking place at Rife’s tattoo parlor in April 2010. Tressel was informed via email from a former OSU player. He never shared this information with the university, nor did he indicate any violations taking place when he signed a September 2010 compliance form.
3) On March 8th, 2011, Tressel would be fined $250,000 and suspended two games by Ohio State for his actions. In an act of solidarity, he would request that he be suspended five games, the same as the players who had been suspended.
4) On May 7th, it was reported by the Columbus Dispatch that the university was investigating more than 50 transactions involving OSU athletes, their families and local auto dealerships.
5) Ray Small, former Ohio State wide receiver playing the role of Fredo Corleone, has been on a barnstorming tour in the past week, explaining to the public the difficulty for student-athletes with a scholarship to manage paying rent, car notes and hunt for food in the Neolithic climate that is Columbus.
Needless to say, Ray won’t be eating at Thurman’s Café or Mitchell’s Steakhouse anytime soon. He could qualify for a glass of hose water from the neighbors’ Slip and Slide though. Have to love those character recruits. “Education for Citizenship” is the motto of the university. Right.
I joke, but like it or not, this story is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. It’s sad. As much as Ohio State University fans annoy many of us every year with their declarations of greatness before running through a field of “Leaders and Legends,” college football needs OSU to be good. OSU is bigger than Tressel’s lies, conservative punt first offense, and sweater vest fetish. Tressel forgot that you can’t put faith into 18- to 22-year-old athletes, who will ruin your 40-year coaching reputation trying to scrounge up enough cash for beer and chicken rings from White Castle.
While Gordon Gee and his bowtie will probably miss Tressel’s commitment to gnome fashion, he won’t be struggling. Tressel left making $3.7 million a year. After his three-month grace period, he’ll do some interviews, sell us on his mistakes telling us it was “for the kids” and will be back coaching somewhere this time next year.
Given his previous track record at Youngstown State, garnering four Division IAA titles along with scholarship and recruiting restrictions for violations, he shouldn’t even be considered for a second chance.
Let the closeout specials on red sweater vests begin.