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.

It happens.

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. 

He does.

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.


  1. You make the NCAA out to be a crap organization run by imbeciles. Nicely done Sir!

  2. How many of those other coaches wrote a book that banked on integrity, honesty, and doing the right thing?

    Look up why he left Youngstown State Czabe.

    This is not a "it's not that big of a deal and everyone is doing it" issue - it is a man who has made another fortune in book sales touting his almighty goodness and how he is one to follow the rules.

  3. Will the NCAA step in and extend the suspension so he's missing more than just 2 home games against bunnies?

    Should the Big Ten step in and mimic the punishment that was applied to Bruce Pearl?

  4. Bruce Pearl has a string of violations dealing with illegal recruiting. He was trying to get an advantage over his competition. Tressel was trying to control when the punishment would be handed down for some players transgression from several years before. Why should their punishment mimic each other?

    Tressel left Youngstown to become the coach at tOSU. What is your point?

    Fortune on book sales, that is funny. And a person can't write a book on how to bettering yourself, if they are not perfect? There goes all those self help books.

  5. It's time the NCAA gets sent away. There is no reason for its existence. Let the "Institutions of Higher Learning" and their adult coaches do whatever they want to entice whomever they want for sports, and let it all be public. If a grown man wants to text a high school boy 700 times, let him; if a school that prides itself on lofty academic, social and moral goals wants to recruit a felon who can't read or write at a high school level, let them.

    When you look at how the kid from Baylor, and by extension the entire Baylor team, got screwed by the NCAA because his mother took money from an AAU coach, but Auburn and Newton got a pass, you realize we don't need the NCAA.

  6. I have no problem if you say you understood why he did what he did. But saying that he did the "right" thing. That's going a little too far. Basically you are saying there is no absolute right or wrong on anything. Right or wrong is relative to the eventual gain or loss. The ends justify the means. And it also sounds like you believe that as long as your employer is cool with it, you can do pretty much anything. Would you knowingly break FCC rules if your radio station was "cool" with it? Would that be the "right" thing to do? Is your paycheck the final judge of what is right and wrong?

    Again - I am not a Christine Brennan disciple or anything. I don't think everyone should be perfect. Like I said - if Tressel knew ahead of time I can completely understand why he made the decision that he did to roll the dice. But let's not say he made the "right" decision. Ultimately he chose to be dishonest to win an athletic competition.

  7. Can't disagree more, if he forwards the email to the compliance office and/or AD on April 2nd, there's a chance they nip the behavior before it gets noticed by the NCAA, and the 5 game suspensions never happen. He made the wrong call...and now the entire University suffers for that.

  8. Hey Jim - my point is summarized well in this article:

    From his book - "Jim Tressel's “Big Ten” fundamentals for success: Attitude, Discipline, Faith, Handling Adversity & Success, Excellence, Love, Toughness, Responsibility, Team, and Hope."……hmmmm I did notice truth was not listed but I must read his section on handling adversity...ahh here it is page 56 – “cover it up until you think it will blow over”…gotcha.

    I will go back and correct myself that the proceeds of his book are given to charity so I was wrong as my co-workers reminded me.

    Last I checked Spurrier and others cut from the similar "win at all costs" cloth have not tried to manufacture their reputation the same clean cut way that Mr. Tressel has. They are all winners, but only Tressel tries to put himself so far above the rest.

    Listen, I went to Centerville High School back in the 80’s with Herbstreit (who was just forced to move to Nashville by rabid OSU fans) I do not cheer for OSU but I respect grads like Kirk. I can't respect a man who has built his entire reputation on being ethically and morally pure...then turn around and try to hide such an obvious violation.

    If you actually believe that he was concerned for any drug investigation or keeping the source anonymous you are indeed an OSU fan.

  9. I guess if Auburn stands by Gene Chiz, then if he knew about Cam in a pay for play then he did the right thing as well right? This is the most pathetic take I have ever heard on your show, and there have been a few eye openers before. Cheating is cheating and the reason you can't allow players to sell items is what if a booster offers $50,000 for a big ten title ring (to be named later) it would be slippery slope.

  10. Why are these people so hell bent on what's right and wrong with the NCAA? In the big scheme of things...who gives a sht? The NCAA is an org that profits MIGHTILY off these players and they get "a college education" in return. I LOVE college sports and to the cheaters go the with it.

  11. I have always been a huge fan of Tressel. I was a junior at YSU (er, Youngstown State) when Tressel was hired there in 1986. Used to see him when taking phys ed classes at the football stadium (Stambaugh). He would always say hello to you when you would see him in the hallways. Plus, have seen him in church a few times back in the day. Always, very nice and classy.

    Feel bad about this entire thing. Personally, think he should have taken this forward. I hate to see this ruin his legacy at Ohio State. I cried (seriously) when he got the Ohio State job in January of 2001. Don't know what to think.

    But I can tell you this, the YSU football program has never been the same since he left. Tremendous coach and recruiter. Both at Ohio State and YSU. Very tough situation here.

    BTW, Czabe, great to hear you back on national radio!

  12. All the idiot had to do was hire this lawyer and the e-mails would have slipped into client attorney privilege. 10-4.

  13. 5 games is more reasonable than sitting out two games that Ohio State would win if *I* were coaching. I think he realized the NCAA would have been harsher, and is suddenly taking a communal approach with his players, avoiding the meat of the conference schedule. I wonder if he'll do push-ups with the team when guys jump offsides in practice too? :)