Monday, March 14, 2011
Stand By Your Man
Jim Tressel made the right call.
No, I'm not crazy.
Mind you, Tressel is no saint. He's no role model for pure and un-fettered honesty. He's just a college football coach.
If you were fooled by the sweater vest, glasses, and nickname of "Senator" then shame on you.
The guy is paid to win college football games. To recruit, practice, and play as hard as possible, exactly 1 inch from the guardrail of NCAA rules.
Run enough laps at that speed, and eventually you're gonna wreck yourself.
Go ahead, name for me the cleanest college football program that has won anything of note in the last 20 years? The clean and honest ones? They're losers.
The top programs in D-1 alternate between periods of "oops, you caught me" and varying levels of dominance. USC, Alabama, Michigan, Miami, Texas, Oklahoma. They all have the prison tats to prove it.
Now, Ohio State.
Geez people, stop hyperventilating on this one.
Tressel was in a tough spot. For starters, his primary responsibility is to his employer - The Ohio State University.
His employer, is standing by him, without blinking.
That fact alone, really ends the argument. He made the right call.
Oh sure, in the world of a sports columnist - like, say Christine Brennan - you can swaddle yourself in the absolutes of black and white, truth and lies, right and wrong.
You don't have to beat Michigan every year, and bring home a big fat BCS payday come New Year's.
So here he was, made aware of some penny-ante violations by a few of his star players with a monster season on his racket. Given how capricious the NCAA's enforcement policies are, who knows how severe the penalties would be if you decided to go "Boy Scout" and tell the whole truth?
In some cases, the NCAA is as heartless as a librarian on late fees. In others, they are as lenient as a substitute teacher.
Dez Bryant just talks to Deion Sanders and they say coldly "your career is over".
Then you have the Cam Newton saga from this fall. It was like the NCAA walked in on its daughter (Auburn) getting undressed and felt up in her room by a boyfriend they've never met.
Instead of throwing the boyfriend out of the house and calling the cops, they just said "oops, sorry" and sheepishly closed the door.
So if you're Tressel, this was a tough one.
It's not like you are actively cheating as a coach, or a program. Your kids are just being idiots. But at least they aren't holding people up at gunpoint, or sexually assaulting their girlfriends.
On the one hand, the rule is stupid, but it is a rule.
Then again, the violations may just end up sleeping with the fishes.
You have an employer, and they pay you handsomely for not just periodic success, but bankable success.
Plus, you have another 95 kids or so, who have done nothing wrong, and are expecting to enjoy a possible season of a lifetime.
And what, he should just run to the phone and call the NCAA on this?
Yeah, sure. So they can lick their finger, stick it up to the wind, and make some decision that makes no sense?
I wouldn't. Neither would Tressel, apparently.
Tough call. Right call.
So it didn't work out. The violations came to light. So what?
The kids will get suspended next year for five games. Tressel gets a minimum of two, maybe more, and takes a 6% pay cut for a single season. (Yep, that's $250,000 out of a $4 million salary)
Ohio State says they are still thrilled to have you as a coach.
2011 won't likely be a season for the Best Of Buckeye Football DVD.
And the big time business of Division I college football marches on.
Cluck away, all you righteous columnists. But this is how the game is played.