Yesterday, Dan Wetzel and Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports claimed Jim Tressel knew last April that Ohio State players were selling memorabilia in violation of NCAA rules.
This has far-reaching implications for the Buckeyes; if the rumors are true and Tressel failed to report the violations—grounds for termination of contract in itself—and then lied by pretending to have just learned about it, he will not be patrolling the sidelines in Ohio Stadium next season.
This realization has provoked a strong reaction from Buckeye Nation. The Ohio State fanbase has taken an impassioned stance in favor of its coach, as it should—no evidence against Tressel has yet become public knowledge. There is currently no reason to disown him.
If truth be told, however, the rumors are probably true.
Ohio State fans have tried to de-legitimize Yahoo! Sports as a mere blogging website, but these charges don't hold up—Yahoo! Sports has a name and reputation to uphold, unlike the nameless blogger who claimed that Tressel would retire after the Sugar Bowl.
It's hard to believe that Yahoo! Sports would come forward with the story unless it had serious merit—a falsely reported story can have devastating consequences for a news organization. Just ask Dan Rather and CBS News.
Yahoo! Sports has a successful history of investigating college football—they busted Reggie Bush for receiving improper benefits while at USC. Charles Robinson, one of the people involved in that investigation, has come forward with Dan Wetzel in the investigation of Tressel.
Obviously, their reputation doesn't mean Tressel is guilty, but it lends credibility to their claims.
The silence from the university is also telling. If the rumors were hogwash, they would have been immediately dismissed. The fact that Ohio State has yet to issue a press release indicates that the rumors have at least some merit.
This explanation makes more sense than the alternative—fans who have never had a conversation with Tressel adamantly deny the story because his integrity is unquestionable. Due to hatred of Ohio State, the media executed a well-orchestrated conspiracy to discredit the university and Tressel.
Lest any of you question my fanhood, Ohio State fans should not falter in their defense of Tressel. However, Buckeye Nation should be cognizant of the fact that Tressel is not immune to mistakes, meaning that the accusations could very well be true.
In the unfortunate event that the story is true, Ohio State will have little choice but to fire Tressel. The breach of contract in conjunction with dishonesty would cement his termination.
Tressel will not let the situation progress that far, though. He is a smart guy and sees the writing on the wall. Before allowing Ohio State to fire him, he will make the decision to leave the Buckeyes himself via resignation.
This would be beneficial for him and the university. By making the decision himself, Tressel will preserve the martyr status he has among Ohio State fans. In a way, he would be viewed the same way as Jesus is viewed by Christians—after persecution, he died to save our sins. Even if Tressel was proven guilty, many Buckeye fans would maintain that he was unfairly targeted by the media.
A Tressel resignation would spare the university from the painful firing of a legend.
Regardless of what happens, the Ohio State Buckeyes will be fine. Needless to say, it would be better if Tressel remained head coach—after years of consistent excellence, it will be difficult to advance with a new coach into an uncertain era. Still, no one person defines Ohio State, and if Tressel cannot be honest and abide by the terms of his contract, perhaps a change is for the best.