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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Why is Ohio State scandal such a big deal? Arrogance and Success Come to Mind

So Ohio State self imposed a penalty that required the football team to vacate all the wins they amassed during the 2010 season, including the Sugar Bowl. They must also forfeit their share of the 2010 Big Ten championship, and go on two years probation. Yet this still isn't enough in the court of public opinion, where even some Buckeye fans believe the university is trying to pull one over on the NCAA.

This is a big deal.  In fact, this might be the most talked about scandal in collegiate sports ever, bigger than the SMU ordeal, and certainly of a greater magnitude than the point shaving scandal in collegiate basketball.

The question then becomes, why does the penalty Ohio State receive for their transgressions matter so much to the general public? The answer is simple: arrogance and success.

Disclaimer: Buckeye fans(especially those sympathetic to Jim Tressel's plight), you might want to skip this next section, because I am going to be painfully blunt. I will, however, for your benefit, italicize this section so you know what not to read.

Ohio State has to be one of the more arrogant programs in the country. It all started with former head coach Jim Tressel. The man that Buckeye nation lovingly referred to as 'The Vest' has a dark side, and it is ugly. Problem is, he did a very good job of hiding it. As a matter of fact, his no-nonsense press conferences, behind the scenes work for charity, and undying love for all things scarlet and gray only furthered the perception in Columbus, Ohio that he was an all-around good guy. I must confess, that I, myself, was swept up in this glorification of Tressel, to the point I had defended him ad nauseum. Looking back, I can't say that Tressel's defiance extended all the way back to 2003, as Sports Illustrated claims. I do believe, however, that during the last two seasons of his career that winning took precedence over everything else.

But make no mistake, Jim Tressel did not just make 'an error in judgment' when he failed to report major violations to the NCAA in April of 2010. He intentionally lied to them on not one, but on four separate occasions because he wanted to win ball games. Apologists can argue all day that he was 'protecting the confidentiality of the correspondence', but, at the end of the day, if you believe something to be that sensitive in nature, you don't forward it to anyone, even if that someone does happen to be a close confidant of your star quarterback.

Ohio State's arrogance did not end there, however. Former and current OSU players, including but not limited to Terrelle Pryor and Ray Small, also exhibited a sense of entitlement as well.  Small pretty much admitted they knew what the rules were, but they didn't care. 

Then there is the arrogance of the OSU administration. That they threw Jim Tressel under the bus is not surprising nor, given what we currently know of the situation, wrong(I am assuming that the NCAA only has evidence on the players involved in the tattoo parlor scandal, and they also have nothing to suggest university officials had prior knowledge of said scandal). Yet Gee and Smith mishandled Tressel's dismissal from the university is a testament to their arrogance also. Gee's arrogance, when he foolishly stated 'I hope coach Tressel doesn't fire me' is nothing new, as he put his foot in his mouth in 2010 when he arrogantly stated TCU couldn't compete in the Big Ten.  TCU would not only finish the season undefeated(with a tougher strength of schedule than OSU, btw) but it also defeated Big Ten co-champion Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

Smith's arrogance is a little harder to decipher, but it is still there. When the news initially broke that Tressel had committed major violations, Smith publicly came to the support of Tressel, along with Gee. But, as public support for Tressel began to dwindle, Smith, like Gee, would withdraw his support for the embattled coach.  Several weeks before they called for Tressel's resignation, Smith would admonish the coach for not seeming contrite enough about the whole situation.  Most recently, Smith laid all the blame for OSU's trouble on the former head coach.  Even if that is true, Smith was Tressel's boss, and you would think that he would accept at least a little responsiblity for his employee's actions.

It is this arrogance that has many fans and members of the media across the nation calling for the NCAA to bring the hammer down on the Buckeyes. Of course, if you ask them why they believe Ohio State should be forced to give up scholarships, be banned from postseason play, etc., they will tell you that the program lacked institutional control. Nevermind that, as of right now, there is no concrete evidence to support a charge(There is an ongoing investigation that several current and former athletes received preferential treatment when purchasing cars, and that OSU compliance officials knew about such malfeasance but ignored it. To date none of the allegations have been proven true, and several current players have been cleared of any wrongdoing).  Which brings us back to the point that almost everyone hates how arrogant OSU is acting about this whole thing.

Then there is the success factor to consider. It doesn't matter what level it is, people love to see a sports dynasty fall. Especially if the team that is part of that dynasty is not their own. During the past 10 seasons Ohio State has won one national title, seven Big Ten Titles, and five BCS bowl games. It's not hard to see why other teams, especially rival schools such as Michigan and USC, would love to see the Buckeyes get hit hard by the NCAA.  Not to mention fans of these same schools, as well as media members who grow tired of seeing OSU in the top 5 teams in the nation on an annual basis.

At the end of the day, OSU fans shouldn't lose any sleep over what punishment the NCAA might hand out. So the NCAA hands out a two year postseason ban and the loss of a few scholarships(not a given, though). It is still a safe bet that OSU will be among the top teams in the Leaders Division of the new Big Ten, and, should the Buckeyes perform well this season, recruiting probably won't be hit as hard as everyone projects. To be honest, fans of OSU today are a little spoiled.  They think that anything less than a 10 win season is a failure. Well, I don't know about you, but I'd take a 9-3(or even 8-4) record accomplished the right way over a 10-2 or 11-1 season that is tainted any day.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New Weekly Column!! Coming Soon!!

As many of you may already know, J-Rod's Sportszone is not the only platform on which I publish articles. 

I have also written more than a dozen articles for Associated Content from Yahoo!(  Most of these articles deal with topics in professional and collegiate sports, but I have written a couple of political op-eds(both on the death of Osama Bin Laden) and some short stories as well.

The other major blog I write for is called the Bleacher Report, a website devoted to fans who wish to have their voice heard in the sports media world.  I originally stumbled onto this website( by accident, as I was writing another blog about the Cleveland Browns for at the time(I haven't contributed any new material to the blog in almost nine months, but if you would like to check it out, it was called Dawg Pound 34, and you can find it at (  I quickly applied to become a syndicated writer, and, since I began writing for them in September of 2010, I have now risen to the rank of correspondent.  I have written 63 articles for the Bleacher Report, most of them covering either professional or collegiate football, with a few articles about pro and college basketball sprinkled amongst them.  

This leads me to the main point of this post.   This summer I was approached by the college football editor of the Bleacher Report to write a weekly column for the Ohio State football Newsletter!  They liked the worked I had done on OSU football over the past year and wanted to see me contribute on a more regular basis. (To be honest, during the football season I had written quite a few articles, but, due to combination of writing on multiple platforms, and the sheer volume I had put out--over  200 total posts to date--I have been a little burnt out as of late.) 

So I accepted their offer, and I will now be writing anywhere from one to three articles per week on Buckeye football.  If you want to follow me, all you have to do is go to Bleacher Report (, for those of you who have already forgot) and navigate to the Ohio State football homepage, then follow the links to sign up for the college football newsletter.  I believe this is going to be a great opportunity for me, as I look to tackle some of the tougher issues, and hopefully secure some hard hitting interviews as well.  I have already begun working on my first article for the newsletter, and it should be published for viewing on Friday afternoon.

P.S.  If you would like to see more of the content I have already submitted to the Bleacher Report, you can do so by clicking on the following link:

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Does Ohio State deserve a harsher penalty than USC or Tennessee? Depends on who you talk to.

Ohio State should receive the death penalty in college football for all of its recent rules violations.  Really.  Well, that is at least what many people believe should happen to the Buckeyes, with most of those people living outside of Columbus or even Ohio in general.

The above represents a rather extreme opinion, and, while there are quite a few people who believe the Buckeyes deserve that harsh of a punishment, they may still be in the minority.  The consensus is that Ohio State should receive a punishment somewhere between what Alabama received and USC received, and certainly it should be no more lenient than the penalty levied against the University of Tennessee men's basketball program.

Yet, are the crimes that Ohio State committed worse than what happened at USC?  Or Tennessee for that matter?  Well, let's look at what we know:

USC was investigated for two separate incidents, one being that Reggie Bush's parents were alleged to have a home worth at least six figures for Bush signing with an agent, all while Bush was an underclassmen at USC.  The other involved basketball standout OJ Mayo reportedly receiving thousands of dollars in cash while playing for the Trojans.  USC was ultimately found guilty of a lack of institutional control, and along with a two year postseason ban in football they had to give up 30 scholarships over a three year period.  And recently they have been forced to vacate the national title they won in '04, as well as Bush forfeited the heisman he won that year.

Tennesse has come under fire for Bruce Pearl's involvement with a recruit.  Pearl invited a  potential recruit to a barbecue at his house, when, under NCAA rules, he wasn't allowed to do so.  When Pearl was asked about the incident, he denied it ever happening. Furthermore, he has also been accused of having coached the potential recruit as to what to say if the NCAA were to question him.  The Southeastern Conference suspended Pearl for eight games.  I am not sure the NCAA has ruled on the matter yet, but Tennessee ended up firing Pearl anyway.

On to Ohio State.  Everyone by now knows about the 'tat five' as it were, and Jim Tressel's coverup of the scandal as well.  And, as we all came to find out this past memorial day, there might be even more wrongdoing.  Of course that is where I think the difference of opinion comes in.

Right now, the NCAA has not found any further wrong doing, including whether Terrelle Pryor received cash/gifts in exchange for his autograph, on the part of the Ohio State program.  At least that is what we, the general public, know for sure.  This is key because it will determine whether Ohio State is found guilty of lack of institutional control, which could mean they not only forfeit the 2010 season but also receive a postseason ban and loss of scholarships.

That is why I don't believe Ohio State will receive nearly as harsh a punishment as USC.  Without proof that coach Tressel forwarded the emails to university officials before the Buckeyes took the field against Arkansas, it will be hard to prove that they were not fostering an atmosphere of compliance.  As a matter of fact, while Jim Tressel has deceived Ohio State and the NCAA on multiple occasions, the Ohio State University officials(including Smith and Gee) have been more than accomodating in this whole process, providing the NCAA with everything requested.

Furthermore, when the Ohio State University and Jim Tressel face the committee on infractions next month, they will make a strong case that Tressel acted alone in the coverup of the allegations.  And while some may think that is a personal attack against a man who has done so much for the university, based on the facts we know, it may just be the truth.

So, at the end of the day, if the NCAA seems convinced Tressel acted alone?  I believe OSU gets a slap on the wrist, vacating 2010 season and probation ala Alabama.  Sure there will be a lot of angered fans out west, and maybe even in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but each case must be evaluated separately.  Because they are not the same violations at all.