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