On Monday I was highly critical of the NCAA and its response to the tattoo scandal at Ohio State. To the institution's credit, Ohio State stepped up and did what the NCAA was apparently unwilling to do, forcing its players to take responsibility for their actions.
Ohio State players facing five-game suspensions next season would not have traveled with the team to the Allstate Sugar Bowl if they had not pledged to return in 2011, coach Jim Tressel said on Thursday.
The five players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, have been punished by the NCAA for selling championship rings and memorabilia and taking discounts from a tattoo parlor.
Tressel said he wanted to make sure that the players wouldn't "skirt the consequences" by playing in the Sugar Bowl, then declaring for the NFL draft and avoiding any punishment...
Obviously I've got complex feelings about the NCAA and its policies. I don't think that they should punish players for selling jerseys (or other paraphernalia) while allowing the universities and corporate sponsors to profit from doing the same. So, in isolation, I think that any punishment of the Ohio State players for these violations is unjust. However, I am all for consistency, and the treatment of the Ohio State players in comparison to A.J. Green smacks of favoritism by the NCAA and cowering to corporate interests (despite their denials, which rely on such badly flawed logic that they're not even worth dignifying with a response here).
Luckily, Ohio State has stepped up and ensured that their players do face some punishment (as I wrote earlier this week, the NCAA's "punishment" left open the possibility that the players could escape repercussions entirely by declaring for the NFL Draft). Will Ohio State benefit from having those players around for the second half of next season, instead of not at all? Sure. But I'm not quite cynical enough to think that's the real (or at least, the only) reason they took this course of action. I think they did the right thing here, and made a statement in favor of equal punishment for equal crimes. Good for them.
Yeah... I'm gonna have to go ahead and take that back now. Over the past several months, there has been a series of revelations of exactly what Ohio State and Coach Tressel knew, when they knew it, and what they did (and did not do) to alert the NCAA and the department's own compliance office. This whirlwind of events finally came to a head yesterday, with Coach Tressel's announcement of his resignation as head coach, effective immediately.
It turns out that Tressel wasn't nearly as innocent as he'd let on, and was in fact complicit in this wrongdoing from the very start. His duplicitous nature as these incidents were coming to light (including his actions in December, which now are revealed to have been a transparent attempt to shift all blame and responsibility from his shoulders onto his players' shoulders--some leadership, huh?) is nauseating in retrospect, and frankly I shouldn't be surprised. I've been on record before as being particularly hard on many college coaches (especially Nick Saban) who profit massively on the backs of free labor from their players while letting their own ethics slide--this incident officially represents a new low for that group.
Without further ado (or further ranting), here's a nice quote from Tressel's preachy 2008 book "The Winners Manual: For the Game of Life", which shockingly turns out to have been one of the most hypocritical books ever written.
This Week's QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour."
- Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel
You said it, Jim. For all the preaching about religion and faith and discipline and "doing things the right way", you failed miserably when the spotlight was brightest. And what's worse, you tried to let others take the fall for you as it was happening, staying hypocritical right up until the very end. Your moral corruption knows no bounds, and you deserve your fate. Let's just hope that Terrelle Pryor--whatever his shortcomings--doesn't suffer the same fate as the last Buckeye football player to challenge a broken system, Maurice Clarett.