follow me on twitter

Friday, March 11, 2011

The real story behind the Jim Tressel saga at Ohio State

By now it is old news that Jim Tressel, head coach of football at Ohio State, is guilty of failing to report potential player misconduct to the university when he first learned it.  It is also old news that, in the wake of this scandal, Ohio State's road to winning a seventh straight Big Ten title(either shared or outright) becomes significantly harder.  Yet, at the end of the day, both of those facts seem insignificant to one other storyline: did Jim Tressel purposely withhold sensitive information from both the Ohio State University and the NCAA in order to preserve the playing status of a few of his star players?  The answer to this question is why the current Ohio State football scandal will not die anytime soon.

Tressel's own admission was that he did not report the possible violations for two reasons: 1) he was concerned about the safety of his players, and he was told the information he received was of a confidential nature.  Given the nature and scope of the federal investigation, some of Tress's fears were probably warranted.  After all, he did not want to impede or obstruct the investigation, and to tip off the university, or the players, might have seemed that way to federal law enforcement officials.

The correspondence, however, between Tressel and the Columbus, Ohio attorney, seemed to suggest that Jim Tressel understood the seriousness of the allegations presented to him and that he would look into the matter right away.  Yet he would sit on the information for more than nine months, and, in the end, allow the players involved in the tattoo parlor scandal fall on their own proverbial swords.  That doesn't sound like the actions of someone who has the team's best interests at heart.

That these players sold memorabilia was should not have been the issue here, either.  For a man like Jim Tressel, who teaches all of his players about the importance of the history and tradition of OSU football from the time they first step foot on campus, these players were in a sense thumbing their noses at that very tradition. So, the question then becomes, did Jim Tressel ignore this very fact because he knew he had a very talented team, one that might lead him to his second national title in a decade?  Certainly the fact that these players sold Big Ten momentos had to bug the coach more than he let on, and it is anybody's guess as to why he did not confront the players before December 2010.

And this scandal should serve as a lesson for Thad Matta, too.  Because should the OSU men's basketball team even make it to the Final Four, one can bet that people will be coming out of the woodwork trying to discredit that team as well.  Not that he should have anything to be worried about, only to say that it would behoove him to be upfront from the get go.

In the end, it will be difficult to prove that Tressel did indeed deliberately deceive anyone.  Yet his omission will not sit well with the NCAA, who above all values timely reporting of all infractions, however minor.  Such a delay may lead to Ohio State vacating the 2010 season and the loss of scholarships, as well as an additional suspension for coach Tressel.  Which leads one to wonder if, in the final analysis, it was all worth it for Jimmy T to be silent for all this time.


No comments:

Post a Comment