It was only a matter of time. First the tattoo parlor scandal, then the fact that he withheld information from NCAA during its investigation, then the car scandal where everyone and their mother from the football team (literally) got a deal on a wide range of cars, which was against NCAA rules, then last week the final nail in the coffin former WR and doghouse lifer Ray Small confirming all of it by telling anyone that would listen to him…
So of course Jim Tressel resigned as Ohio State head coach, he has no choice but to at this point before it comes out that he knew where Osama Bin Laden was hiding all of these years.
Today’s resignation is another layer to an investigation that is slowly dragging Ohio State University into the third circle of hell in Dante’s football Inferno. With so much uncertainty and anxiety surrounding the program someone had to go to create some type of calm around the situation and why not start with the man under whose watch all of this happened.
Some will say Tressel is a coward for suspending his players then jumping ship when things got too hot. Listen, the guy’s not Pete Carroll, he was still standing there amid it all and taking every lump that OSU, the media and pop culture (those Tressel tattoo shirts are going to be a hot commodity come fall in Big Ten country) had to give him. His intensions were to stay at OSU and lead the program out onto the field once his five game vacation was over, however as the weeks progressed you started feeling that this mess was to deep for Tressel to just shrug off and walk back out onto the field and run “Tresselball” down our throats again.
There was too much was coming out about the insane amounts of illegal benefits that the Ohio State football players were receiving and all of it was a flat out joke. Aaron Kniffer, a Columbus area car salesman gave out 50 heavily discounted cars to players and their family members, former linebacker Thaddeus Gibson got one for $0 (he says that he’s still paying it off, yeah, sure), Small came out last week and did his best Sammy the Bull and spread all of OSU’s wrongdoings across the school newspaper The Lantern (he later backtracked, of course he did), add that to the drama that’s occurred from December until today and you understand why Tressel had to walk away.
He had no choice. Gene Smith (who should share an equal share of this whole mess) wasn’t going anywhere, school President Gordon Gee wasn’t going to catch any flack for it, heck the players were even going to get a free pass.
(I’ve heard some comments today from some members of the media as to how can Tressel just walk away from his players like that? Um, his players put him in this position in the first place. On one hand Tressel should’ve had some idea of how much was going on behind his back as far as benefits and things of that nature were going on, but at the same time he’s not a babysitter. Whether he explained compliance and all that jazz to the absolute max isn’t the main issue here, guys still sold their personal belongings for other services illegally according to the NCAA rules, they received illegal benefits, cars and other things and they continued to do it. How does Tressel handle huge on the field expectations and even bigger off the field issues?
The downfall of Jim Tressel isn’t his ignorance to all of it happening; it is his players’ ignorance for starting of this drama in the first place. It’s weird but you could sort of feel all of this turn once Terrelle Pryor arrived on campus three years ago. Though he’s not the sole reason for this scandal he has been the main figure in it all and this is not the kind of attention Buckeye Nation was hoping for once he signed on the dotted line at national signing day 3 years ago.)
So for about the 89th time in the last six months after the 95th wrinkle in this on-going investigation we ask what now?
Do the suspended players look towards the NFL supplemental draft? How long will Luke Fickell stay at the helm as the new head man in Columbus? Will Gene Smith bring in a big name like Urban Meyer or Bob Stoops to take the reins? How bad will the NCAA come down on Ohio State? What will happen to Jim Tressel? And will other programs look at OSU and become more involved in stopping things like this from happening to their schools like it has at OSU, USC and maybe Auburn once we learn more about the Cam Newton scandal?
This isn’t a happy day in Columbus that’s for sure. Tressel was loved by the masses and praised by the students. Even with his shortcomings in two national championship games he dominated Michigan to the tune of 9-1 during his tenure and it seemed as though you couldn’t have a BCS game without Ohio State playing in it. The run that he had at OSU will not be matched for a long time, and even with this cloud of uncertainty hanging over the school the support for Tressel is still extremely high.
But he’s gone now. Whoever takes over as the next head coach at The Ohio State University has a lot of work to do to bring respectability and a good reputation back to the program and has to change its off the field image.
Today is just the beginning of will surely be the darkest period in the school’s historic existence. Wins and banners will be taken away as will scholarships and maybe future bowl appearances, and even though he is gone James Patrick Tressel will be associated with all of it.
He can’t stop any of it, just like he couldn’t stop any of the players who put him and the school in this predicament in the first place.