So The Ohio State University cheats at football, just like so many other major college programs trying to get ahead in the game.
Welcome to the club, coach Jim Tressel. It turns out that even Mister Rogers ignores NCAA rules.
You will recall the NCAA suspended quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four teammates last December for the first five games on the 2011 season for selling jerseys, championship rings and trophies to a tattoo parlor owner. This action came after the U.S. attorney told OSU of a federal investigation that included players.
But Tressel had been tipped off to the federal probe last April – and he withheld that tidbit from school officials. Why derail the national title quest with this bit of unpleasantness?
Yahoo! Sports broke this story, prompting OSU to suspend Tressel for two games and fine him $250,000. But school president Gordon Gee never thought about firing him.
“No, are you kidding?” Gee told reporters, laughing. “Let me be very clear. I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me.”
Tressel gave a half-hearted apology during a Tuesday news conference, but refused to really own up to the magnitude of the transgression.
Here is the sporting press has to say about that:
Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: “From his character-based books to his conservative sweater vests, Tressel wanted us to believe that he's a straight shooter who follows the rules. On Tuesday night, we learned Tressel isn't any different from a lot of coaches in college football. He's apparently more concerned about winning games and championships than following rules and doing things the right way. In fact, Tressel might be even worse than other coaches who are corrupting college athletics. He won't admit he's wrong even after he has been caught.”
Ray Ratto, CBSSports.com: “The show Tressel and school president Gordon Gee put on was transparently preposterous, and they knew it would be. The Yahoo cops had them, and they knew somebody could get them eventually. But they didn't care because they didn't have to. They're making payroll, and they made it big last year. They'll make it big next year. They'll make it big every year, because in Ohio, TOSU means more than nearly anything else. The Horseshoe will be filled because it is a sacred rite in that state, and the money will pour in because it never doesn't. All that happened Tuesday was that the school lost a bit of its smug. They'll get that back in no time, the same way that every other school caught, and every school about to be caught, does.”
Stewart Mandel, SI.com: “Jim Tressel's Ohio State teams annually field one of the best defenses in the nation. Jim Tressel's personal defense for why he withheld knowledge of potential NCAA violations would be fortunate to give up 50 points per game. Let's be honest: No one but the most scarlet-and-gray blinded die-hard could possibly buy the explanation being given by the coach and his employer behind an inexplicable lack of judgment that will cost him at least two games and $250,000. It's thinner than the Buckeyes' depth chart for their first five games next season.”
Matt Hayes, The Sporting News: “Here’s all you need to know: Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, squeaky-clean, stand-up, buttoned-down Jim Tressel, is in this fix because he won too darn much. When beating Michigan becomes habit, when winning the Big Ten becomes blasé, when going to a BCS bowl becomes boring, there’s only one mountain left to climb – and getting there usually means taking chances. More times than not – and more than anyone cares to admit – that means breaking NCAA rules.”
Bill Livingston, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Ohio State is the flagship athletic program of the Big Ten, and Tressel is, beyond any reasonable doubt, the face of the league in its most popular sport. It is some solace that Tressel didn't alibi and blame anyone else. But while he said he didn't think any less of himself after this, a lot of people will.”
Mike Lopresti, Gannett News Service: “So who can guess where all this will go? The NCAA folks do not like being misled, and they might not be so awestruck by all the Buckeye stickers on the defenders' helmets. What we do know is this seems one of those scandals that has legs. It gets worse as it goes along, and there are any number of defrocked elected officials who can tell you the gloomy consequences when that happens. Ohio State looked awful when it tap-danced around the Sugar Bowl, and it looks worse now.”
MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE
Questions to ponder while wondering if the Miami Heat will pull itself together:
Is Tiki Barber writing the book on how NOT to handle life after football?
Does globe-trotting Patriots QB Tom Brady realize that he looks more ridiculous by the day?
“This is the NBA: No Boys Allowed. Big boys don't cry. But, if you're going to do it, do it in the toilet where no one can see.”
Lakers coach Phil Jackson, offering snarky advice to the Miami Heat.