Jim Tressel: Was He Ohio State's Buckeye Planted by the Rivers of Waters?

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Jim Tressel: Was He Ohio State's Buckeye Planted by the Rivers of Waters?
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
May 30, 2011: Jim Tressel announces his resignation in Columbus, Ohio. A native Buckeye, Tressel will probably land on soft ground.

Jim Tressel aside for a few sentences—what in the world is a buckeye?  The Ohio version is a tree planted by the rivers of waters—including Lake Buckeye, of course. 

Ohioans probably came to be known as Buckeyes in the 1800s, according to official state history.  Ohio is a fruitful bow full of buckeye trees bringing forth their fruit in due seasons. 

Coach Jim Tressel, 58, was like a tree planted by the rivers of waters, but his leaves have withered and whatever he does these days isn’t prospering.  His due season started at Ohio State University as the head football coach in 2001.

A bunch of wins and a national championship later, he’s gone.  A godly man, he’s for now like the chaff driven away by the spring and summer winds of Ohio State football supporters’ calls for his head to roll.  It’s rolling down the side of the hill and resting under a buckeye tree.

According to an AP report (link to the piece), The Columbus Dispatch first reported the news of Tressel’s resignation.  In the story, the AP quoted Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee—Ohio State’s president—in response to a question asking if Tressel would be fired: 

“No, are you kidding?  Let me just be very clear: I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me,” Gee memorably said to the media in a mocking manner back on March 8. 

To me, the resignation comes under remarkably odd circumstances and is a mockery of the NCAA system.  Jim had already been fined $250,000 and removed from his coaching duties for the first five games of the upcoming season. 

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
November 27, 2010: Tressel shakes hands with Rich Rodriguez in Columbus. Jim was 9-1 against Michigan.

Not only is the season coming up quickly, but Tressel is seasoned, while his interim replacement is a money green 37-year-old who is thrusting into a situation he’s not ready to handle. 

The university and Tressel were also slated to meet with a group of NCAA infractions investigators in August—about 70 days out.

Seven is the number of God, and Jim was like one in Columbus to some people.  Right now, Tressel still has his supporters among his many detractors.  I believe it’s deservedly so on both accounts. 

He’s still a well-liked individual in Ohio and could be portrayed by his apologists as a victim—a man blamed for protecting his players and giving them second chances to make it in life—doing what a coach is supposed to do.

He teaches life's skills, but a list of his Buckeyes still allegedly broke NCAA rules surrounding benefits players can receive, though, and they’ve allegedly been breaking them for some time. 

Dating back to the days of seriously troubled running back Maurice Clarett—under Tressel, the football program has consistently been getting into boiling water.  A coach can't control everything, though.  Smart ones control what they can and leave the rest of the blessings up to the kids who play for him on scholarship. 

Blessed is the man who resigns from the Buckeyes before facing the Aug. 12 inquiry by the NCAA.  I believe Tressel should still be made to face their questions, though.  I doubt very seriously if he will, though, and something should be done about it.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Sept. 10, 2010: Tressel directs his team in Columbus. The coach will be directing elsewhere this upcoming season.

I’m hoping the NCAA doesn’t call in Luke Fickell—the new coach—to take Tressel’s place in the investigation. 

Although Fickell was an Ohio State assistant coach, it would be extremely hard for me to fathom the reasoning behind it—unless it was to get information about what Tressel knew.

It’s not right to let a guy run away from trouble, while everyone else gets busted like pipes.  See Pete Carroll leaving USC and John Calipari leaving the University of Memphis before NCAA sanctions came down on their respective schools. 

Guys of this ilk move on and out of harm’s way before anything serious happens to them, while the school’s they hurt takes the brunt of the damage.  Like Carroll and Calipari, Tressel will probably get another job within his specialty craft.

To his credit, he’s crafty.  In announcing his resignation, he picked Memorial Day to lessen the news cycle impact, but guys like me were right on it. 

That’s right, America—the news cycle didn’t bypass some writers, whether they were by the pool enjoying a bikini body, or by the grill enjoying a marinated bird.  We aim to please.

A witch hunt notwithstanding, the NCAA’s investigators should still be allowed to grill Tressel and pluck his feathers for the public to see—if you please.  Inquiring minds need to know exactly what went on, what he knew and why he didn’t rat on his players.  We may never find out.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

If the public does finds out, it’ll probably be to Tressel’s profit.  He’ll decide who, what, when, where, why and how the information gets disseminated. 

It could be a production for charity along the lines of LeBron James’ announcement.  It might be how they get down in Ohio.

This might be an Ohio thing.  Some folks in the state already know him as “The Senator” for his politician-like media-stopping techniques.

Not even the most powerful senators can stop the media, though.  Let me say this: “You can’t stop the media; you can only hope to contain it.”  There is no containing me, though.  I’m off the chain with my reporting.

While it's not a national emergency and no one has died over this—except maybe the Buckeyes football program—if I find out what Tressel knew, then I’ll relay it on to you.  Until then, catch me on the next episode of Lake’s Buckeye Break Down.

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