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Archive for the category “Jim Tressel”

On irony, Ohio State and Jim Tressel

Some final thoughts on the Jim Tressel situation at Ohio State.

It’s ironic that Ohio State has only itself to blame in all this. The NCAA does not make the rules, the governing body only enforces the rules that its member schools put in place.

So because people like Ohio State President Gordon Gee cling to an antiquated fairytale of college athletics as some kind of pure amateurism, the NCAA must enforce a host of silly rules – like the one saying you can’t sell memorabilia that has been given to you if you are a player.

Maybe if the schools weren’t so interested in trying to create a utopian society in college sports, they could get rid of the little things that bog down the NCAA and drive fans batty and let them take on the types of serious violations that really matter.

College football analyst, and former Browns quarterback, Gary Danielson was on Chris Russo’s Sirius radio show on Tuesday and he made some really good points about the situation at Ohio State and college athletics in general.

First off, he rightly pointed out that players selling items has been going on for decades, probably as long as there have been college athletics. Danielson said that when he was at Purdue, players knew not only who to go to when they wanted to sell their game tickets, but who would pay the most money.

The difference now, he said, is that today’s players aren’t happy with just a little extra spending cash, they have a sense of entitlement and a need for more – money, cars, jewelry, etc. – that leads to bigger trouble with the NCAA.

He also pointed out that athletes at most, if not all, schools learn quickly where the black market is in their town for the types of services they want. The generational and cultural gap between coaches and players is too great nowadays for coaches to know all the games players run and corners they cut.

Danielson came up with a solution that actually makes a lot of sense – college athletes should be treated like Olympic athletes and be allowed to sign endorsement deals with corporate sponsors.

If Nike wants to sign Vince Young to a shoe contract while he is at Texas, or if Ford wants to support Reggie Bush, why not allow it?

The big money would go to the superstars, of course, but even if you are a back-up, in most college towns you could get a sponsorship from Bob’s Automart of Crazy Carl’s Appliance Store.

It certainly wouldn’t eliminate every problem, but would it really make things worse? Like Danielson said, the Olympics are doing it and the last time we checked, the world hadn’t come to an end.

The idea probably makes too much sense to actually be implemented; after all, we’re talking about a group of people, in college presidents, that can’t see the hypocrisy of not having a playoff at the top level of college football because it would hurt the players’ studying – but somehow it is OK for every other sport at every level in college.

But we can certainly dream of a better day. And until that day comes, stay classy Buckeye fans.

***

There’s no World Cup this summer, and the next European Championship is still a year away, but there is still plenty of soccer action coming this summer.

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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.

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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.*

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“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.

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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.

Can’t we all get along?

Somehow, the NFL and the NFL Players Association were not able to decide after 16 days of work with a federal mediator how to divide up the league’s $9 billion revenue pie.

Now we’re left to wonder what’s next and when (if?) we will see the Browns and the rest of the league on the field again.

The players association has filed papers to decertify, effectively disbanding the union and giving it the chance to sue under antitrust laws if there is a lockout.

“They have chosen to choose another strategy, and that is their choice,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in published reports.

According to a statement from the NFL, the players’ union left a good deal on the table, including:

  • An offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference;
  • A guarantee to reallocate savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7;
  • Ensure no compensation reduction for veterans;
  • Implement new year-round health and safety rules;
  • Retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union;
  • Establish a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years).
  • A reduction in offseason programs of five weeks (from 14 to nine) and of OTAs (Organized Team Activities) from 14 to 10;
  • Significant reductions in the amount of contact in practices.

Sounds pretty good to us.

The union responded:

The NFL Players Association announced today it has informed the NFL, NFL clubs and other necessary parties that it has renounced its status as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the players of the National Football League.

The NFLPA will move forward as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of current and former professional football players.

So, for now, there is no free agency and no trades, and while there will still be a draft in April, drafted players can have no further contact with their new teams after draft day beyond the traditional congratulatory phone call.

Just great.

***

Oh, Stan? You won’t see him no more.

***

Some cool old program covers from the Indians.

We especially like the one of Chief Wahoo using his baseball bat as an arrow to aim at opposing American League teams. (h/t to UniWatch)

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Finally, Phillip Morris at The Plain Dealer weighs in on the hypocrisy of the gumbo of lies Jim Tressel has been cooking at Ohio State:

In recent years, Ohio State has gone out of its way to project itself as a bastion of good sportsmanship. It has educated and encouraged players to demonstrate a respect for opponents, the law, the university and NCAA rules. It has made quite a show of doing this.

When the school hosted the U.S. Naval Academy to open the 2009 season, for instance, the teams lined up in the south end zone together. Tressel shook the hand of each midshipman, looked him in the eye and thanked him for his service to country. Then both teams ran onto the field together.

But it’s all been a farce. Two prominent players were then or subsequently breaking NCAA rules. They were consciously profiting from the sales of memorabilia that compliance officers had warned them against. They were consorting with at least one character who exposed the entire program to a high degree of risk.

What that means is the players were only pretending to be good sports. The same with the coach.

Tressel was only pretending to be a good sportsman. He knew what was happening. But he sat for months last year on information that he knew could cause serious harm to his 2010-2011 season. He sat on information that could harm his win-loss record and ultimately his financial future.

And Christopher Cicero, the Columbus lawyer who sent the e-mails to Tressel in April, revealed he’s received death threats since the story broke earlier this week.

Way to stay classy Buckeye fans.

What Ohio State Really Lost Today

Do not do an immoral thing for moral reasons. – Thomas Hardy

It turns out that, despite the daylong cries of Ohio State apologists, that the Yahoo! Sports investigation alleging that Ohio State coach Jim Tressel knew players were selling memorabilia more than eight months before the school claims it knew of the shenanigans is true.

Tressel has been suspended two games and fined $250,000 for violating NCAA rules. He will also have to attend compliance seminar and make a public apology.

Oh no, not a public apology!

During the press conference to announce the suspension, Tressel tried to deflect what he did by going off on a rambling tangent about … something. A federal drug-trafficking case? Murdered players? We’re still not sure.

Tresell, the school and OSU toadies can spin it any way they want (there’s no conspiracy against Ohio State people), but Tressel knew the players were up to shenanigans, didn’t think anyone would find out, and got caught in a lie.

He should have just owned his mistake instead of embarrassing himself and the school.

It can be argued, with some merit, that what Tressel did is small potatoes compared to all the shenanigans run on a daily basis in big-time college athletics (see Cam Newton & Auburn or Reggie Bush & USC).

But that misses the point.

Ohio State and Tressel have presented themselves as being better than other schools, never more so than when they made a sham of the initial violation by not suspending the players involved for the Sugar Bowl. On that day, Tressel confused doing what’s easy with doing what’s right. That seems to be a common theme with him.

That came on the heels of school president E. Gordon Gee making a fool of himself by acting superior to schools like TCU and Boise State, saying the Buckeyes don’t play “the Little Sisters of the Poor” but rather “very fine schools.”

No offense to the University of Akron, but the Zips aren’t exactly a football powerhouse and they are on the Buckeyes schedule next year. But hey, let’s not let facts get in the way here.

Ohio State can’t beat the top teams in the nation on the field – Florida, LSU, Texas and USC all have proven that – and now they can’t lay claim to beating those schools off the field either.

That’s what the Buckeyes have truly lost in all this – they can no longer take the moral high ground. They are just another team doing what they have to do to win games.

And the thing is, there’s nothing wrong with that.

We realized long ago that college athletics is a business. Some still struggle with that, but it’s true. The Norman Rockwell view of student-athletes playing for the letter jacket and heading to the malt shoppe to make time with their best girl after the big game is so antiquated to be laughable.

The pressure to succeed at a school like Ohio State is clearly immense. And people make mistakes. This doesn’t mean Tressel is a bad person or a bad coach. He made a mistake and he’s going to pay the price. Anyone calling for more than what he got as punishment is a fool.

It just might be time for the Buckeyes to consider moving out of that glass house before someone really gets hurt.

***

Lot’s more on this in some really good pieces:

Jason Lloyd at The Beacon Journal nailed the issue in his column: OSU’s Tressel piles lies on top of lies

Ray Ratto at CBSSports.com: Ohio State doesn’t much give a damn about your outrage

Stewart Mandel at SI: Don’t buy Tressel and Ohio State’s defense for coach’s violation

Bill Livington at The PD: Lame defense affirms winning is the only thing that matters for Jim Tressel, Ohio State

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