The college football world has been gripped by the resignation of Ohio State
head coach Jim Tressel this past Monday. The scandals at OSU, which have
unfolded over the past few months, have brought a proud program to its knees,
and it’s a reminder of how fragile success can be if you’re not doing things the
Just ask Barry Bonds. Although he is one of the most decorated players ever
in Major League Baseball, Bonds has gone down in history as “the guy who
did it because he was on steroids.” In much the same way, Tressel’s
distinguished record at Ohio State, which includes a National Championship,
seven outright or shared Big Ten championships, and a 9-1 record against
archrival Michigan, is forever stained by the unfolding scandals that will
probably land the Buckeyes on probation. Ohio State has already been tried and
convicted in the court of public opinion.
The purpose of this article is not to recap Ohio State’s transgressions. If
you haven’t followed things very closely and want the full story, just head to
Google for a few minutes and bring yourself up to speed.
But I’ll sum it up thus: Ohio State has the appearance of a program in which
some boosters offered numerous advantages and outright gifts to football players
in violation of NCAA rules, the players gladly accepted, and their head coach (Tressel)
looked the other way. Tressel’s fatal mistake was leaving an email trail that
indicated he knew about one of the violations, didn’t report it to his
superiors, and later signed a standard NCAA form saying he knew of no ongoing
problems in his program.
Things were going on, the coach knew, and he lied to the NCAA about knowing.
Game on. Now the NCAA sharks are circling, the press is digging up dirt faster
than a front end loader, and the circus is in town.
Violations and problems in a football program can take many forms, from
academic improprieties to criminal activities to bad behavior by coaches and
players to simple, run-of-the-mill violations of NCAA rules designed to ensure
athletes’ amateur status.
In some situations, the head coach or assistant coaches are personally
involved in the problems and violations. They’re
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