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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

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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.

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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.

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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 miss chance to go dancing

Crap.

Kent State lost what was probably its only chance to make the NCAA Tournament, losing the MAC final in overtime to Akron.

Now, despite being the conference’s regular season champion and winning 23 games, the Golden Flashes will probably not get a spot in the tournament so that we can watch teams like Michigan State (14 losses) or Marquette (11th in the Big East) go out and lose their opening games.

If the MAC only gets one bid again this year it just reinforces the bias the selection committee shows the big conferences at the expense of some good teams. Schools from the Big Ten, SEC or ACC lose in their conference tournaments and are still selected because of their “body of work.”

But when a school from a mid-major conference loses in its tournament, then the regular season has no impact.

And people think the BCS is messed up.

***

We’re going to break format to recommend a non-sports book that we are currently reading.

A Secret Gift by former Canton resident Ted Gup tells the story of Mr. B. Virdot, who placed an advertisement in The Canton Repository a week before Christmas in 1933 asking residents to write to him about their financial troubles and how they would spend the money if he helped them. Within days the Post Office received thousands of letters and B. Virdot mailed out 150 checks for $5 each to families across town.

Gup spent two years tracking down the descendants of the letter writers, conducting more than 500 interviews and sifting through thousands of pages of deeds, marriage licenses, census reports, obituaries and death certificates. The letters and Gup’s research became the basis of the book.

While the story is set in the Great Depression, it reaffirms our believe that there are few places better than NE Ohio.

For more information, check out this story and this one.

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In what continues to be a long week in Ohio State land comes news that ESPN analyst and former Buckeye quarterback Kirk Herbstreit and his family have been forced to move out of their home in central Ohio because of the constant criticism he has received from OSU fans who don’t understand how life works.

“Nobody loves Ohio State more than me,” Herbstreit told The Columbus Dispatch. “I still have a picture of Woody Hayes and my dad (Jim, a former OSU player) in my office, and nobody will do more than I do for the university behind the scenes. But I’ve got a job to do, and I’m going to continue to be fair and objective. To continue to have to defend myself and my family in regards to my love and devotion to Ohio State is unfair.”

Stay classy Buckeye fans. (h/t Waiting for Next Year)

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.

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Oh, Stan? You won’t see him no more.

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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.

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.

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

That will show them!

Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel apparently consulted The First Grader’s Guide to Playground Etiquette when he made the six players suspended for five games next season pinkie-swear that they will return to the Buckeyes if they are allowed to play next week in the Sugar Bowl.

Yeah, that will teach the players.

In addition Tressel won’t bench any of the players or punish the players in any way for the Sugar Bowl.

“We told them they would have to make the decision on the NFL prior to leaving for the bowl game,” Tressel said at his first Sugar Bowl news conference. “It wouldn’t be fair to not face the consequences down the road.”

What a joke.

How will Tressel enforce the promise if any of the players decide to leave? That’s right, he can’t.

It was silly enough that the NCAA penalized the players in the first place; the items they sold belonged to them, they should be able to do what they want. But Tressel’s comments made him sound as clueless as Joe Paterno.

“A number of people reached out as we’ve been dealing with this thing maybe to calm my thinking or whatever, and one thing said was, ‘Keep in mind, Coach, you’re dealing with a different generation,” Tressel said. “Back when you were growing up one guy got a trophy, maybe, and now you’re dealing with a generation that if you were on the team and you were 7 years old, everyone got a trophy. Maybe this generation doesn’t understand the value of awards like we did,’ “

Sorry to break it to you coach, but players don’t go out to the Malt Shop with their high school sweethearts after the game anymore.

If Tressel was serious about wanting to punish the players, he would suspend them for the game. But that would just increase the odds of the Buckeyes being embarrassed again by an SEC team, so you know he never even considered that.

Suspensions aren’t realistic, we get that. There’s too much money involved for that. But for a school and a coach that thinks they are better than everyone else, and for the apologists who believe Tressel can do no wrong just because he beats Michigan, this just shows that OSU is like everyone else in big-time college football.

We’re just surprised OSU president Gordon Gee didn’t find a way to blame all this on Boise State.

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Is Mike Holmgren ready to coach the Browns? Doubtful.

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Are the Steelers worried about Sunday’s game with the Browns? Certainly.

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Scott Rabb weighs in on Eric Magnini at Cleveland Frowns

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