Rich Rodriguez spent significant time at the U of M Children's hospital, as did a number players from the team. Brock Mealer can nearly walk now because of Rodriguez's generosity. The now-annual Spring Game has become a massive fundraiser for Mott's Children's Hospital.
The NBA has The NBA Cares program. Professional football and hockey players find themselves doing charity work frequently. With stature, money, and influence comes significant responsibilities, one of which is to give back to the community. And given their position as role models--despite what Charles Barkley will have you believe--that means going to hospitals, soup kitchens, and helping the less fortunate. Jim Tressel, in this regard, is not remarkable. He's not unprecedented or special. He's someone doing what he's supposed to do with the influence and money he's earned.
I've recently spent a lot of time dedicated to reading and commenting on Eleven Warriors, and if anything stands out, it's the writers' utter lack of clarity and delusion about Tressel and the NCAA violations. Even in the face of widespread allegations, the site spent more time writing feel-good missives about why it might not be as bad as it seems and defending Tressel, rather than looking at the facts, investigating the situation, and checking precedent to discover where this might all end up. That's an editorial decision they've made, but their site is also significantly more successful than mine, so what does that say about me?
Regardless, Ramzy's latest might be the most ham-fisted defense I've read of Tressel. When all else fails, why not play to people's emotions to get them behind your argument? Ramzy waxes poetic about Tressel & Co. helping out at the hospital before the 2006 The Game, and tries to make you really understand just what a Good Guy Jim Tressel is. The problem is that frankly, no one could give two shits about whether or not he's a God-fearing man who gives to charity and helps the community. We care that he's a lying, deceitful, priggish coach that has cheated his way to major college football dominance.
Even Ramzy's defenses of Tressel admit the problem but shrug it off like, "Well no big deal because he says hi to children who idolize him":
He put his own standards ahead of the NCAA's. He wrote The Winner's Manual and played by his own rules. Tressel never had eminent domain over college football; the NCAA does. It's not his game, it's theirs. They have their own manual, and as far as they're concerned, it's the only manual. Plausible deniability and willful ignorance have successfully maneuvered around that manual for years. Tressel operated like this for years, up until last April.As an Ohio State fan, you stop writing after that first sentence, right? Isn't that the whole point? That for years and years, Tressel has done things outside of the rules that everyone was playing under? Tressel doesn't even feign compliance with the NCAA. He has blatantly skirted any rule that would hinder his team's on-field success. Is that indicative of a quality, stand-up guy, even one that--as is likely mandated of him by the school--gives back to the community?
So now he's gone. Ohio State's next head coach will not graduate more players at the same rate that Tressel did. He won't send more two or three-star recruits to the NFL like Tressel did. He won't positively alter the lives of more men than Tressel did. He will not raise more money for more good causes than Tressel did. He won't win more games than Tressel did.This is the crux of Ramzy's argument though he doesn't realize it: Dude idolizes Tressel above all rational perspectives. To Ramzy, and much of the Ohio State community, Tressel is all there is. Years ago, it stopped being the Ohio State football team and became the Jim Tressel football team. Players, fans, and even the administration followed him blindly, and the loss of Tressel feels like the loss of the program. Because Tressel beat Michigan and because he brought them a national championship and because he frequently won the Big Ten; all of this adds to the Golden God legend of Jim Tressel, in spite of overwhelming evidence that all of those accolades were achieved with the assistance of widespread, massive rule breaking that he undertook because he felt more important than Ohio State or the NCAA.
Speaking of the next OSU coach,
He might police players more closely than Tressel did, but at what cost? College kids shouldn't have bad choices removed from their list of options. That might help with NCAA compliance, but it doesn't help anyone become a useful adult. Players should be taught to make better decisions and face tougher consequences.It's like Ramzy didn't learn anything from this entire situation. It's not the mistakes of student athletes that are problematic here, it's the wanton disregard for NCAA rules and the harboring of a culture that promotes lawlessness. Policing players is probably 50% of a coach's job (sad as that is to say). More to the point, Tressel did police players, he just had no moral compass. Despite arguments significantly to the contrary, it takes a special kind of malice to disregard your employer and governing body with the aggressiveness that Tressel did. Because while it's not proven, Tressel actively participated in the corrupt culture that has manifested in Columbus during his tenure.
The funny part is that Ramzy thinks it's all over, that the war has been lost and they're left to lick their wounds...
They turned over every rock in Columbus, Youngstown and everywhere in between to find every last molecule of dirt that they could to further bury a man who unleashed an avalanche on himself by committing what will go down as the sloppiest beguiling in Ohio history: A cover-up undone by he who started it....which, sorry, but it's about to get a lot worse. The Sports Illustrated article nary upturned a single stone. With the NCAA looking into Terrelle Pryor and his brazen car violations and the potential ring of illicit car deals that were being given out like candy to players and their families, the SI article did little more than scratch the surface. Hell, why do you think OSU is still withholding information shared between booster Ted Sarniak and Pryor? If you believe what the athletic department is slinging, then there's no rationalizing this situation for you.
Eleven Warriors has been of the impression, from the beginning, that this happens at every school and that the media is out to get Ohio State but, is it? Michigan was recently invaded by NCAA folk and found nothing but a few minutes of over practicing. There's a reason that Ohio State has self-reported significantly more secondary violations than any other school in the last 9 years: they commit far more than anyone else. More importantly, Ohio State has been the media darling for years and years. They were even able to convince the NCAA to allow Pryor & Co. to play in a game that they were ineligible for. This is not a conspiracy. This is shining a light on the dirtiest program in college football and the ousting of a corrupt head coach that had become the forebearer for a culture of cheating.
Hopefully Ohio State fans can come back to reality and start supporting a program and a coach that's not constructed on lies, cheating, and a disregard for the NCAA. Then again, this is pretty fun.