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Life lessons from Jim Tressel

Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wow, we certainly did not see this one coming.

Jim Tressel “resigned” on Monday as football coach at Ohio State, possibly at the urging of the university. You know, the old “you should quit because we are going to fire you” move.

What makes this all the more bizarre is that it never had to come to this.

If Tressel had just told his bosses that some players were up to shenanigans when he first learned about it, life would have gone on at Ohio State. The way life went on at Georgia following A.J. Green’s four-game suspension last season for selling memorabilia.

But he didn’t want to lose some of his best players to suspension so he sat on the information.

So that’s life lesson No. 1: What we do when no one is watching is the true reflection of our character.

It’s easy to “honor” players from the Naval Academy with a stadium full of people and the TV cameras focused on you. The same with singing the alma mater – which when you really look at it is a pointless gesture.

But when a situation came that called for Tressel to show true character, he shrunk from the moment.

He only made things worse by continuing to lie and deny that he knew something was wrong. Signing off on the players before the season started by claiming they were clean, denying he knew anything before the Sugar Bowl, lying about how he was trying to “protect” the players involved.

Once those lies started piling up, it got harder to keep them straight and, just like a loose thread on a sweater vest, everything started to unravel.

That’s life lesson No. 2: Don’t lie. We all learn that at an early age.

While we were surprised at first to learn that it was Ohio State that made the call to let Tressel go, the more we think about it the more that makes sense.

Ohio State tries to set itself up as being a program that is better than everyone else; one that doesn’t do things like “schools in the SEC.”

But for the school to continue to do nothing, or impose cosmetic punishments, would reveal it as having a win at all cost mentality. Throw in the fact that coaches who willingly lie to the NCAA – which is clearly what Tressel did – rarely keep their jobs and Ohio State was finally left with no way to spin this.

And a Sports Illustrated article detailing how this been going on for years should come as no surprise. The first time you get caught doing something wrong is rarely – if ever – the first time you committed a crime.

So now the apologists will be out looking to shoot the messenger – the media, the NCAA, Kirk Herbstreit, the players, whoever they can find – because they don’t like the message. And on some level we can understand their frustration.

They were sold a fairy tale about Tressel being a saint among sinners in college football and, it turns out, their false idol is no better than anyone else.

But above everything else, there’s no denying that Tressel has no one to blame but himself.

The Interchangeable Fan

In the past few months, as Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel’s web of lies have unraveled and more shenanigans have been exposed in the football program, we’ve realized something that had previously escaped us:

Ohio State fans are college football’s equivalent of Pittsburgh Steeler fans.

They both have an irrational sense of entitlement, they both think their team’s you-know-what doesn’t stink, and no matter what their coach, owner, athletic director or player says or does, they always fall back on the argument that “(fill in the blank) did something worse” or that critics are just “haters.”

They both stagger through life with blinders on, seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil.

And both carry a paranoia that someone is always out to get them.

With OSU fans it’s the NCAA or the media, primarily The Columbus Dispatch. We know it is hard for some people to understand, but The Dispatch is not a public relations arm of the university, existing only to write fawning pieces about the latest recruiting class.

With Steeler fans, the NFL is the boogeyman.

And you truly haven’t experienced paranoia and irrational thinking until you’ve heard Adrian from the Burgh on Sirius NFL Radio. Words simply cannot do him justice.

After taking a closer look, Scarlet and Gray & Black and Gold are closer on the color wheel than most would want to admit.

***

We’re sure the Bengals were happy when they made wide receiver A.J. Green their first pick in last month’s NFL Draft.

But being the Bengals, they apparently forgot how Browns corner back Joe Haden shut down Green in college:

  • In 2009, the Gators won a blowout over the Bulldogs, 41-17. Green was a non-factor. Haden held the receiver to just three catches for 50 yards and zero touchdowns. Green’s biggest play in the game was a 19-yard reception. But other than that, Green had trouble shaking Haden.
  • In 2008, Florida won another blowout, 49-10. Green had more success this time, with five receptions for 91 yards. Probably worth noting is Green’s quarterback that year was Matthew Stafford, who turned out to be the No. 1 overall pick of the Detroit Lions. To Haden’s credit, he intercepted Stafford in the game and returned the pick 88 yards.

Of course, that’s what make the Bengals the Bengals.

***

The ’70s were a strange, strange decade. (h/t UniWatch)

Should Browns tackle the defensive line?

The Browns need help on the defensive line – that’s no secret – and, for once, luck may be on their side as this year’s draft class is deep in defensive line talent.

If the Browns decide to pick a defensive linemen with the No. 6 pick Thursday night in the opening round of the NFL Draft, the question then becomes: do they go for a defensive end or a tackle to pair with Ahtyba Rubin inside? If they go inside, the top two tackles are Alabama’s Marcell Dareus and Auburn’s Nick Fairley.

We’d be cool with the Browns taking Dareus, who has been described as someone who “can be the backbone of an elite defensive line, and his run defense is the key. Takes momentum blocking – especially slide protection – very well. Strong enough to go against the grain and split gaps. Agile enough to redirect in space and extends the play to the sideline. Blows up piles and can be dominant in power situations.”

Unfortunately, Dareus is expected to be one of the first players off the board.

Less certain is Fairley, who makes us uneasy: “In addition to the late hits, Fairley can be drawn offside and this could be a bigger problem in the NFL when he’s dealing with quarterbacks who have great cadences and can trip up defenders with their snap counts. Concerns about his work ethic have dogged Fairley for a long time; not known to be a gym rat or an exceptionally interested student of the game.”

Does that really sound like someone we want the Browns to take a chance on?

No, it does not.*

***

“Potential major violations”

“failed to deport himself … [with] honesty and integrity”

“violated ethical-conduct legislation”

Not the kinds of things you generally want to hear about your football coach, but that’s what Ohio State is hearing about Jim Tressel after the NCAA presented its notice of allegations to the school about Tressel lying to cover up violations of seven players.

The NCAA also warned that it could treat Ohio State as a repeat offender stemming from the violations involving former quarterback Troy Smith, who took $500 from a booster and former men’s basketball coach Jim O’Brien, who gave $6,000 to a recruit.

Repeat offenders face post-season bans, the entire coaching staff could be suspended and the school could lose scholarships, according to NCAA rules.

Uh-oh, somebody is in big trouble.

Former Ohio State quarterback and current ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who had to move out of state because the hoopleheads in Columbus couldn’t handle him telling the truth, summed up the current situation perfectly.

“The Ohio State fan base blindly is supporting Ohio State and Jim Tressel. It’s almost gotten to the point that he beats Michigan, he wins 10 games, he goes to BCS bowl games, they’ll support him no matter what he does as far as the fan base,” Herbstreit told ESPN. “If this would have happened to John Cooper [Herbstreit’s coach], not only would they have fired him, they would have actually lined it up and had a firing squad and fired him.”

Hmmm, you’d think someone who wraps themselves in the cloak of Christianity, like Tressel repeatedly does, would have known right from wrong.

***

Reason No. 152 why we are so very glad the Browns didn’t make the mistake of hiring Jon Gruden as head coach comes from Peter King, writing in his Monday Morning QB column.

King tries to answer the question that has puzzle many of us: why does everyone treat Gruden as some kind of quarterback guru?

I think in the wake of Jon Gruden sitting with quarterbacks and working out quarterbacks and examining their mental and physical games, this has been the common question: If Gruden is so good with young quarterbacks, why didn’t he ever develop a great one himself?

In his second year as Raider coach in 1999, he got the kind of quarterback he felt was best to win with immediately, Rich Gannon. Early in his Buc tenure, he duplicated that with Brad Johnson. Two veteran quarterbacks, both of whom Gruden used to take those teams deep into the playoffs; he won a Super Bowl, obviously, with Johnson. So that became the way he thought best to win big. Later in his Tampa term, it stopped working, and he suffered for it. Gruden’s not going to be one of the patient guys who says, “Let’s take our lumps with the young kids.” He’s going to be a win-now guy.

I also think Gruden likes to be known as the fixer, the guy who wins quicker than the other coaches. He fixed the Raiders, then got the Bucs a championship Tony Dungy never got. Gruden’s not going to be the guy who you want coaching your team for 12 years, but he’s going to be the guy who takes over a pretty good team, gives it shock therapy and a sense of urgency, and has a chance to win quickly.

The last thing the Browns need is a quick-fix guy. They need someone who will build the team in the right way. Gruden is obviously not that guy.

***

*If the Browns do end up drafting Fairley, we are 100 percent behind the pick. If the player is wearing a jersey that says Cleveland on it then we want them to succeed. We just won’t be disappointed if the Browns pass on him.

A lie ain’t a side of the story … it’s just a lie

The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold. – Aristotle

We’re sure it wasn’t his intention, but Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel is teaching everyone an important lesson about what happens when you start to tell a lie to cover something up.

According to the latest from The Columbus Dispatch, when Tressel learned last spring that some of his current players were in trouble, he shared the information with someone he thought could help star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, even though he said he didn’t tell his bosses.

The e-mails warning that Pryor and at least one other player had sold memorabilia to a local tattoo-parlor owner who was under federal investigation for drug trafficking came to light earlier this month. At that time Tressel claimed he kept the information to himself to protect the confidentiality of the federal investigation and for the safety of his players.

By not telling his bosses – as required by NCAA regulations – Tressel made the mistake of doing what’s easy, rather that what is right.

And that is where his troubles began.

Because he didn’t want to lose some of his best players for the 2010 season, Tressel lied to the NCAA at the start of the season when he claimed everyone was free of any shenanigans.

That lie forced him to lie again at the Sugar Bowl, when word got out that the players were under investigation. Tressel claimed that he had no prior knowledge of the incidents.

This all culminated in the press conference earlier this month when Tressel lied about not passing on the e-mails because of “confidentiality” reasons. Now it’s all come full circle.

And that’s the lesson is all this. Once you start telling a lie – no matter how small and no matter if you believe you are doing it to protect someone – it’s hard to stop. Once that first lie is out, you often have to tell another lie to cover up the first one, and then another and another. And once you start lying it can be hard to remember your last lie and keep your story consistent.

Which is the situation Tressel finds himself in.

Tressel most likely won’t lost his job over this – he has the support of the university – although every time we think the story is written new information comes out.

But while he will keep his job, he’s lost something more important – trust. How can anyone other than the most die-hard homer ever believe anything he says ever again?

It’s ironic, too, that at a time when BYU can be openly mocked for standing behind its beliefs at the expense of winning, there are those who will still defend someone who wraps themselves in the cloak of Christianity just because they can beat Michigan on a regular basis.

If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything. – Mark Twain

***

We may have some idea now why Browns owner Randy Lerner was not at the NFL owners meetings this week in New Orleans.

At least eight senior players at Lerner’s Aston Villa club are considering their futures with the team after details emerged of manager Gerard Houllier’s attempts to arrest an alarming slump in the club’s fortunes.

In addition to banning mobile phones in the dressing room, Houllier has imposed severe financial penalties for any breach of rules and has introduced a procedure for any player wanting to contact Lerner directly.

Houllier is hoping the crackdown will reverse the drop in morale that has accompanied the team’s decline in the Barclays Premier League. It could backfire, though, with rumblings of discontent coming from almost the entire first-team squad.

Sounds like Randy may want to get on top of this.

The comedy stylings of Jim Tressel

Jim Tressel is having a laugh, yes?

We mean, he can’t be serious, right?

Really, what else is there do but laugh after the latest nonsense coming out of Columbus in regard to the paella of lies Tressel continues to cook up?

Tressel will now miss at least the first five games of the 2011 season after allegedly “asking Ohio State to increase his suspension” to match the suspensions handed to five Buckeyes for selling memorabilia.

Sure. And Charlie Sheen cured himself with his mind.

No one, outside of Brutus Buckeye himself, actually believes Tressel asked for an increased suspension so that “the players and I can handle this adversity together.”

This is a blatant PR move by Ohio State to stave off possible punishment by the NCAA – nothing more. The school tried to get away with only a two-game suspension and now, in the face of overwhelming backlash over the hypocrisy, decided to do what they should have done originally.

If it was so important for Tressel to stand side-by-side with the players, why didn’t he “ask” for a five-game suspension originally?

If anything, Tressel should be suspended longer than the players. It’s irrelevant that the rule they broke is a stupid one; Tressel is the coach and, as such, he has to be the adult in the room.

Instead, Tressel knowingly broke an NCAA rule, willingly lied to his bosses, and now that he is being punished, acts as if this is some burden that he is heroically bearing.

There’s obviously still more to this story; we can’t wait to see what else Ohio State can cook up.

***

Remember the other day, when we wondered if the Cavs have quit on the season?

Well, we got as clear an answer as possible last night in Portland.

***

The quarter-finals of the Champions League are set, and there are three good matches:

  • Real Madrid vs. Tottenham Hotspur. If Spurs can get an away goal in the first leg, things will get very interesting when they come home to White Hart Lane for the deciding leg.
  • Chelsea vs. Manchester United
  • Barcelona vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
  • Inter Milan vs. Schalke

It all starts April 5-6.

Golden Flashes drawing NFL interest

Nine NFL teams, including the Browns, Ravens and Steelers, were represented at Kent State’s pro day this week.

Not a big surprise as the Flashes had 10 players in the NFL last season, including former Pro Bowlers Antonio Gates and Joshua Cribbs and 2008 defensive player of the year James Harrison.

Ten players and no NCAA violations. Maybe a certain school to the south should take notes.

Several eyes were on defensive end Monte’ Simmons, who finished his Kent State career with 21.5 sacks and 38.5 tackles for losses.

”He looks the part; he’s a specimen,” Raymond Jackson, Pittsburgh’s director of player development, told The Beacon Journal. ”He reminds me so much of Courtney Brown. Size-wise, he’s a rare specimen. If you go off of looks, he’s a day-one guy. The film doesn’t lie. If he can play he’s going to be on somebody’s roster.”

”I still feel like I had more in me to show,” said Simmons. ”I have another pro day on March 15, just to get myself seen more.”

Watch, the Steelers or Ravens will probably take a chance on him and Simmons will torment the Browns for the next 10 years.

Scouts were also looking at safety Brian Lainhart, who had 17 interceptions and 344 tackles as a four-year starter, and middle linebacker Cobrani Mixon.

***

According to Paul Hoynes at The Plain Dealer, Nick Johnson is expected to arrive this week at spring training for the Indians.

The oft-injured Johnson is recovering from wrist surgery and is still a few weeks away from being able to swing a bat. The minor-league deal he signed with the Indians has a July 1 out clause. If he isn’t in the big leagues by then, he can become a free agent.

If the Indians bring him to the big leagues, he’ll make $750,000. They can exercise a club option for 2012 worth $2.75 million. He can earn another $1.75 million in plate appearances.

Please don’t hurry back, Nick. No seriously, there’s no rush.

***

Every once in a while we feel a little guilty that we are not more adventurous. But then we read stories like this and realize that’s not such a bad thing:

A Weipa (Australia) fisherman desperately held on to a tree and screamed for help from his mates as a monster croc bit into his legs and tried to pull him under the water.

Rangers will converge on Weipa today to try to catch the aggressive croc that attacked Rio Tinto mine worker Todd Bairstow, 28, as he was fishing on the banks of Trunding Creek yesterday.

Mr Bairstow was fishing in the creek near Albatross Bay Resort, about 4.10pm, when the crocodile lunged at him and tore off his finger.

The crocodile lunged again, grabbed his legs and tried to pull him into the water.

A Queensland Police spokesman said while the man suffered extensive lacerations and dislocated bones, his injuries were not life-threatening.

Yeah, maybe hanging out on the couch isn’t such a bad idea after all. (h/t to Deadspin)

***

Good news as Browns running back Montario Hardesty’s recovery from a knee injury that cost him his rookie season is progressing nicely.

“Rehab is going well,” Hardesty said on the team’s website. “I think I have a little bit of work still left to get myself there. I wouldn’t say I’m well ahead of schedule, but it’s coming along great. I just have a little bit of a ways to go before I’m back to 100 percent.”

If Hardesty can give the Browns anything this season it will be much appreciated, especially by Peyton Hillis, who wore down by the end of the last. (h/t to Waiting for Next Year)

***

Not surprisingly, Zydrunas Ilguaskas is planning to retire after this season.

“I think I’ve had enough of this game,” Ilguaskas told alietuvis.com. “I’ve played enough. Sitting on the bench doing nothing is not what I want to do. The long trips and the intensive schedule have taken its toll – I’m not a 20-year-old anymore and my body is telling me that it would be the right time to retire from NBA after this season. I have given everything I could to basketball and now I’d like to spend more time with my family.”

It can’t be fun for Z to be riding the bench for a Heat team that is not as good as the Cavs teams Z played on the past two years.

***

Finally, this from The New York Times gave us a good chuckle.

Turns out Jim Tressel had to cancel a book signing appearance the other night to try and explain the web of lies he’s weaving at Ohio State.

Tressel was promoting his book, Life Promises for Success: Promises From God on Achieving Your Best.

It’s been a while since we were regulars in church, but we did go to a parochial school through eighth grade and we’re pretty sure lying to your bosses wasn’t one of those life promises.

Honoring a team that does it the right way

After yesterday’s news about the culture of lies that surrounds Jim Tressel and the Ohio State football program, we need to take a moment to recognize a coach and an athletic program that truly does things the right way.

Congratulations are in order for Kent State basketball coach Geno Ford, who was named the Mid-American Conference’s Coach of the Year, and Justin Greene, the Flashes’ junior center, who was named Player of the Year in the MAC.

Ford took a team with only three returning players and repeated as MAC regular season champions, the first conference team to pull off the feat since Ball State in 1988-89. And he did it without being confused about doing what is right versus doing what is easy.

Seven times since 1999, KSU has had the MAC Coach of the Year – going to four different men.

Kent State has had 11 seasons of at least 20 victories in the last 12 years, five NCAA and five NIT appearances. They have had four coaches, and the worst record since 1999 was 19-15 in 2008-09, Ford’s first season.

And they’ve done it all without cutting corners or lying to their bosses.

Greene averaged 15.6 ppg and delivered 10 double doubles, including the last three games of the season.

The Flashes open conference tournament play Thursday night against Buffalo at the Q.

The Bulls are going to be a tough out, as the two teams have split their two regular-season games for the past three seasons.

But we’re confident the Flashes are going to get it done the right way. The Kent State way.

***

Remember Subbuteo? Sure you do.

EPL Talk reports there there is a documentary about the legendary table soccer game in the works and scheduled for release this year.

Definitely going in the Netflix queue.

***

Lonnie Chisenhall keeps doing his part to make it tough on Indians manager Manny Acta during spring training.

If he keeps it up, it will be interesting to see what the Indians will do. Because of their silly signing of Orlando Cabrera to play second base, the Indians are in a situation where they are trying force Jason Donald, a natural short stop to play third base, blocking Chisenhall.

Why the Indians don’t just go with an infield of Chisenhall at third, Donald and short and Asdrubal Cabrera at second is baffling.

***

Finally, good news from Terry Pluto, who reports that Joe Tait is hoping to be back calling the Cavs game on March 21.

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