THE Ohio State University needs to fire coach Jim Tressel now, o
Ohio State University (or THE Ohio State University if you’re nasty) is in a heap of trouble. Head football coach Jim Tressel revealed back on March 8, that he had withheld information from OSU’s Athletic Department regarding five of his players (including star QB Terrell Pryor) selling their Big Ten Championship rings and other memoribilia to the owner of a tattoo parlor for cash and free tattoos among other things. This scandal, which started off as another story of college athletes doing something stupid and turned into a stunning allegation against a (formerly) well-respected coach, is now making “THE” OSU appear more and more like enablers.
After the story broke about the improper benefits, OSU were just a couple of weeks away from playing in the Rose Bowl. The NCAA should have done the right thing and suspended these players right away. The players blatently broke NCAA rules, plain and simple. What did the NCAA do? Let them play in the Bowl game then suspended them for the first five games of next season. Who do they play in those five games? Akron, Toledo, Miami (FL), Colorado and Michigan State. Only Miami (FL) and Michigan State are relevant games and this is the weakest part of their schedule. If the NCAA wanted to penalize them, they needed to take them out of the Bowl game. Why didn’t they? Money.
After the suspensions were handed down in December, the NCAA decided to investigate the college. OSU held its own investigation as well. When interviewed, Tressel denied any knowledge of any of the violations. That turned out to be an outright lie. He received an email in April of 2010 from lawyer (and former OSU letterman) Chris Cicero that several of his players had sold signed memoribilia. Tressel acknowledged the email with the response, “I’ll get right on it.” His version of getting right on it? Keeping quiet. This was his first opportunity to let the school know what he found out.
Then, in September he signed an NCAA form stating that he had no knowledge of any violations. That was his second chance. Then he lied in December. He had three opportunities to clear the air and make things right. Did he? Nope. Why not? Well, a scandal would be detrimental to the football program especially if he revealed it when he found out in April. A scandal could mean fewer fans go to the games and watch them on TV. That would mean less money for the school. (Seeing a pattern here?)
Tressel finally admits that he lied and covered up what he knew and how long does he get suspended? Two games. Yep, he won’t be albe to coach the Akron or Toledo games. Seriously? I could coach those two games and OSU would win. Those are more like scrimmages. Tressel, however tries to rectify himself by self-imposing a five-game suspension, the same as his players. Well isn’t that nice. Now that you got caught with your hand stuck in the cookie jar, you’re going to try to give back the cookies? It doesn’t work like that. And what is the college doing? Defending him.
Yep, Athletic Director Gene Smith, when asked if he supports Tressel said, “Definitely, no question.” Really? You would defend a coach that withheld information, not once, not twice, but three times? Information that now could place your entire Athletic Department on NCAA probation or worse. You’re defending this? How can you trust him?
Yes, he’s an excellent coach. He’s brought a National Championship to OSU and had numerous players have very successful NFL careers. Players love him and he consistently has top recruiting classes. But at what point does integrity come into the picture? What he did was egregous, blatent and has now placed a bulls-eye squarely on OSU and its football program. The only way OSU can save face is to fire him. He didn’t make a mistake. He lied and withheld information hoping he wouldn’t get caught. As long as OSU keeps him as the head football coach, there will always be a cloud of doubt and distrust hanging over the program.
The best way to get rid of this? Fire Tressel and bring in someone else. Here’s a thought: How about Jon Gruden? He loves the spotlight, would be able to carry on the OSU tradition of dominance, recruit top-notch talent and bring in even more fans. This would be a fantastic fit and would make people forget about all of this very quickly. Even if Gruden doesn’t take the offer, there are several other coaches out there that you could slot in and keep the winning tradition.
Apparently AD Gene Smith doesn’t want this to just go away. He’s rather support a tarnished coach who can win games. Why? Because he wants to make sure the team is winning to keep bringing in the money. Okay, but when the NCAA comes down hard on OSU, Tressel and the football program, its on your head Mr. Smith.