Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tressel's singular demonstration of deceit

Now that the NCAA Notice of Allegations has finally dropped on Ohio State and Tressel, we have actual, concrete evidence that this is going to be bad for the Senator. How bad is yet to be determined, and nearly everyone is throwing out his opinion as to what the university should do with its maligned leader. Popular opinion is that Tressel should be fired yesterday, and the school should lick its wounds and try to recover in the coming NCAA-sanctioned years. One place you won't find that is the delirious Eleven Warriors, which I usually really like but has been off its rocker with Tressel coverage. Basically every day, we're treated to a new diatribe about the wonders of Jim Tressel and the idea that this is all some giant ESPN conspiracy to destroy the university because Look, even Kirk Herbstreit has been poisoned by that well.

Even though Michigan recently went through this NCAA violation process itself, it pales in comparison to what Ohio State is about to endure (though the media scrutiny was probably stronger in Michigan's case given the widespread hatred of Rodriguez). I imagine that for Eleven Warriors, Tatgate is a bit like an 8-year-old watching his parents divorce: denial, crippling fear, and the desire to find a way to fix all of this. Unfortunately, what's done is done, and when they stumble out missives like this...
As you sit at your computer, bleary eyed and fuzzy headed, you might have fleeting thoughts that the inanity of yesterday might've just been a dream. Maybe, just maybe, the avalanche of opinions and commentary about what was essentially a non-story continuation of what we already knew didn't really happen. Maybe for once people took a reasoned approach to what was nothing more than a letter from the NCAA saying "Okay fine. See you in August." Maybe instead of reading fatuous articles by people with no real knowledge of the situation, Batman gave you the keys to his cave, and you and Alfred hosted the best Spring Break party Bill Bellamy ever saw.

But I am here to tell you that you're wrong. All of those articles and interviews happened. People really did go nuts. And Alfred is way too old to party (so is Bill Bellamy, for that matter).
... it's almost depressing to read their paranoia and delusion.

The arguments in favor of Tressel have changed. A month ago, Tressel was a Good Guy with a good track record, but now that the other shoe has finally dropped, the argument has become, "Well, this happens at every school." The problem is, I don't think it does, and if you do, your view of college football is far more pessimistic than mine.

The argument that this happens everywhere is missing the point: sure, players sell memorabilia at schools--this, I bet, happens almost universally at major institutions--but a coach with actual proof of it that lies to the NCAA? That doesn't happen everywhere. So while coaches might "know"/assume that the sale of jerseys et al happens under their watch, they know in the same sense that high school teachers know that their students are probably copying each others' homework; so long as it doesn't come to anyone's attention, they're not going to take the initiative to dig it up. And frankly, turning the other cheek for something so erroneous doesn't bother me.

However, what doesn't happen at every school, is a coach with full knowledge of these transgressions willfully and repeatedly lying to the NCAA and school administrators while divulging information that he said was confidential to a bunch of boosters. Over the last 12 months, Tressel has dug his own grave, on his own accord. This doesn't happen at every school because there aren't many coaches that are this conniving. Bite the bullet, admit your players did wrong, and live to fight another day. Tressel decided he was better than that and because of it, he's going to lose his job.

Frankly, there's no real argument that he shouldn't. Tressel has repeatedly skirted NCAA sanctions for improper benefits, and when the case finally got big enough that it would seriously harm his program's on-field production, he did everything in his power to make sure it never saw the light of day. Tressel spent hours calculating and mitigating this risk, and in doing so, committed the cardinal sin in the NCAA. And for a man who has so frequently avoided the NCAA's punishment, comeuppance is going to be severe, and most importantly, deserved.


Anonymous said...

I still bet you that Tressel doesn't get more than a multi-game (albeit maybe a large one) suspension.

Anonymous said...

You also miss the chain of circumstances. Sure, players at good schools end up driving fancy cars. Sure, the star running back ends up to be a fraud for dealing with car dealerships. Sure, players sell memorabilia. Fine, players may do this on eBay or for a great tattoo exchange. OK, whatever, these for-sale items might bring a ton of revenue. OK, sure, whatever, OK, your coach knows about it, but doesn't think it's a huge deal. OK, fine, whatever, uh-oh, fuck, shit, yeah, this is huge. Cover your asses. OK, fine, whatever, maybe the NCAA knows, but they KNOW WHO COACH TRESS IS, RIGHT?

I sure hope not. But this sport is all money, popularity, and attention, so it wouldn't surprise me if Tressel receives little to no punishment.

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