lotus wrote:What about all that crap with Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore at Iowa? Did anybody ever get busted for that stuff? They were using those two as their personal recruiting team for every sport out there, weren't they?
Nationally, Jim Tressel is the Wizard of Oz. He isn’t great and powerful anymore, outside the state capital. He’s just the sweater-vested man behind the curtain.
It’s no fun writing that. We need more genuine wizards coaching college kids, not less. Coaches who really are role models, whose deeds match their words. Whose impact on a young man’s life exceeds his ability to help the kid get a job playing sports for lots of money.
To many, that described Jim Tressel. To some, it still does. Maybe, they’re still right. Even if it doesn’t square with present perception. Tressel is the guy who has given millions to hospitals and libraries. He’s also the guy who lied to the NCAA and his employer.
Tressel is the coach who has written two books: The Winner’s Manual; and Life Promises For Success: Promises From God on Achieving Your Best.
Tressel is also the coach currently responsible for dragging Ohio State’s reputation through the ooze.
Believe what you want about The Vest’s image as a do-righter. Some of us who have hacked our way through lengthy sports writing careers have learned to temper our personal judgment of coaches based on our limited, professional relationships with them.
I have no idea if Tressel is as pure and humble as his admirers suggest. Or as phony as his detractors claim. I just see a guy who lied to the NCAA and his school, and a school that faces a crisis of conscience because of it.
Mostly, Tressel is the man with the .828 winning percentage, whose team hasn’t lost to the school Up North for 2,712 days (the running, daily tally courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch), who makes the athletic department large piles of cash.
This last fact seems to carry the most weight. If it were just up to the thickwallet boosters, alums and other peddlers of influence, any and all Tressel discussion would center on who Ohio State’s quarterback will be the first five games next fall.
Instead, the NCAA has sent a Notice of Allegations to the university. Tressel will appear in August before the Committee on Infractions. Worst case scenario: The NCAA could vacate all of OSU’s wins last year except the Sugar Bowl, and it could prevent the Buckeyes from playing in either the Big 10 title game or a bowl game.
It’s not even about that, though. Ohio State always will win lots of football games. Ohio-bred Urban Meyer would be a fine replacement for Tressel. The machine is bigger than any of its cogs.
The question The Ohio State University needs to be pondering is this: At what point does its soul matter more than its football coach’s ability to beat Michigan?
What’s occurring now in Columbus is classic athletics-versus-academics. Coaching tower versus ivory tower. To pretend this doesn’t happen everywhere is to ignore what’s real in big-time quasi-amateur sports. And nowhere is it bigger than at Ohio State.
Ironically, this is exactly the issue Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee addressed eight years ago, when as president at Vanderbilt, he eliminated the school’s athletic department. “Sports can no longer be its own fiefdom,’’ Gee said then.
When someone asked Gee at a press conference in March if he’d consider firing Tressel, Gee said, paraphrasing, “I hope he doesn’t fire me.’’ Ohio State doesn’t want to fire Tressel, because Tressel is too big to fire.
Maybe Tressel has been infected with the sort of hubris that comes to lots of powerful people. When he learned that some of his players were trading memorabilia for tattoos, and that the owner of the tattoo place was under federal investigation, maybe Tressel thought he could bypass the NCAA and the school and do things his way.
After all, wasn’t his way the right way? Hadn’t he written those two books? Wasn’t he Jim Tressel?
So he signed a compliance form last September, assuring the NCAA he knew of no potential rules violations by his players, even when he did. So he didn’t tell anyone at OSU about it, even as he continued to correspond with players and others involved. He figured he was bigger than the rules and the school. He was, well, his own fiefdom.
It doesn’t matter if Tressel believed he was doing it to protect his players. There is no “protect your players’’ clause in the NCAA handbook.
For now, Tressel remains employed and Ohio State is in conscience limbo. There aren’t many real wizards. You have to think there’s one less today.
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