A Look at "The Great Jim Tressel" Debacle

Perhaps the last time we use our favorite JT photo?

"The best kind of pride is that which compels a man to do his very best, even when no one is watching."

I may not have written much on this topic in the past couple months, but don't assume I didn't care about this. I cared all along that this guy was a cheater and that he and his joke of a University held that reprehensible press conference where Gordon Gee joked that he hopes Jim Tressel didn't fire him. It was clear how seriously Ohio State took this entire situation. Hey, it's the price of doing business. And that's exactly what sports -- especially football -- are at Ohio State. A business. More than that, though, football is an absolute, win-at-all-costs business. And it breeds really ignorant, clueless fans, coaches, students, etc. 

I remember being in traffic court one time for a speeding ticket. One of the cases ahead of me was a guy who was 50-something and was there for his third -- third -- drunk driving conviction. The third conviction carries some teeth in my home state of NJ (i.e., significant jail time) and I remember thinking it was more than deserved, because if this guy had been caught and convicted three times, then he had probably driven drunk 50 or 100 times. Maybe more. Because we all know law enforcement cannot be everywhere at all times, so many times you get lucky.

I bring this up because it is one of the things I think about whenever someone acts like Kelvin Sampson "just made a few phone calls" or, in this case, Jim Tressel was "just trying to protect the students" (as Barry Switzer said yesterday). Whatever. He's been caught red-handed. And it took the NCAA lining OSU up in its scope -- and even more damning allegations from SI -- for them to finally come to terms with the fact that JT simply had to go. I saw someone Monday morning -- I think it was McIntyre at The Big Lead, but he might have just been quoting someone -- tweet that OSU saved face by calling it a resignation.

No, saving face would have been standing up at that first press conference with the overwhelming evidence of his brazen infractions in hand and saying, "This has no place at Ohio State and Jim Tressel has been relieved of his duties immediately." But there was no one to stand up and do that at Ohio State. Because bending the rules is okay there.

I also don't like those OSU sycophants who give you the, "Yeah, he had to go and it was wrong...but with all this fuss I expected he had done something more." As though we're all,  you know, making a big deal out of the fact that he "only" covered up something and knowingly played ineligible players in order to win. I guess I need to ask... what did he have to do for OSU fans to agree he fully deserved to be fired? Actually kill someone? What would it take for sites to stop calling him, as I saw one OSU blog do two weeks ago, "the great Jim Tressel"? He is not a great man. He is definitely a very good or perhaps great coach -- hard to debate that. But his integrity is lacking and not in the little way our integrity lacks when we break the speed limit or keep the $20 bill we find on the sidewalk. It's lacking in a way that allows him to actually participate in a cover-up that demonstrates to his players -- guys who have had their asses kissed for years because of their football abilities and probably need moral guidance more than the average person -- that they are indeed above the law and rules don't apply to them. And if that isn't enough, the SI expose that's now being buzzed about includes juicy nuggets such as this:

While Tressel was an assistant under head coach Earle Bruce, one of his duties was to organize and run the Buckeyes’ summer camp. Most of the young players who attended it would never play college football, but a few were top prospects whom Ohio State was recruiting. At the end of camp attendees bought tickets to a raffle with prizes such as a pair of cleats and a jersey. According to a fellow assistant, Tressel rigged the raffle so that the elite prospects won. Says the former colleague, “In the morning he would read the Bible with another coach. Then, in the afternoon, he would go out and cheat kids who had probably saved up money from mowing lawns to buy those raffle tickets. That’s Jim Tressel.”

That's the guy you're hitching your wagon to, people! He's a dirtball. Three of his most prominent players during his tenure at OSU -- Maurice Clarett, Troy Smith and Terrelle Pryor -- have all now been investigated by the NCAA and found guilty of violations, accepting money, etc. And now we learn a couple dozen more players have done NCAA infraction-worthy things. Tressel is dirty, no matter whether his white shirt and necktie make dumb people think he looks like a senator.

OSU players have also been tweeting a bit today about how this is just giving them "motivation" and "nobody will want to play us next year." Ooooooooooooh!! So scared! This motivates you? Seriously? And stop acting like everyone talking about a cheating coach and sketchy players is somehow some kind of slight to you or your team. These are facts at this point. OSU bends the rules -- at the very least. And it pisses a lot of us off. So if it motivates players on OSU, fine, so be it. I bet, though, it won't be nearly as motivating as, say, a free Chevy Tahoe would be, am I right?

I've also actually -- predictably -- seen OSU tweeters come after us and other Purdue writers for simply relaying the news and -- yes -- taking some measure of enjoyment in seeing a cheater come crashing back to Earth. I think I spoke for quite a few of us when I said, "Hope it was worth it, OSU." It's kind of amazing that even in the face of this ridiculous embarrassment, many of their fans are still obnoxious and combative. Much like disconnected IU fans who saw our dislike of IU as our "jealousy" of their non-NCAA, non-NIT, non-CIT tourney team, these OSU bozos accuse us of being "jealous" as well.

Now, I'm not sure when jealousy became the go-to accusation to throw at someone when your program is the joke, but I need to let you all in on the fact that....it doesn't make any sense.

Why would anyone be jealous of OSU? What is there to be jealous of? That they won the Big Ten last year with ineligible players? That they were almost in contention for a national title again but, yet again, found a way to screw it up and give ammo to Big Ten haters?

See, here's how it works. People are jealous of Drew Brees because he's a winner, he has a hot wife, he is a great ambassador for his college and his pro cities, he's won a Super Bowl and he and his son had one of the best photographic moments in recent memory.

On the slightly more shallow end of the pool, people are jealous of Tom Brady and Derek Jeter because they win a lot, sleep with hot women and are rich.

But nobody -- nobody -- is jealous of a University now associated with a gross lack of institutional control -- which, again, that infamous press conference conclusively demonstrated -- or a fan base who acts obnoxious in the face of such cheating. It makes you look like either you don't understand it or you simply don't care and only want to win, at all costs. Either way, it makes you look bad if you are barking that the rest of us are "just jealous." None of us are, I promise.

I even had a guy who, when I pointed out that Purdue (of the "little 8," as he called us) whipped up on OSU the last time they played in our "high school stadium" (as he called it), asked me what the score was last year when the two met in Columbus. Ah, yes, last year... the 49-0 ass whipping that OSU put on Purdue. With at least five ineligible players on the field.

(The SI story now reveals that at least 28 players have been involved in the tats-for-memorabilia, cash and weed racket going back to 2002. Which means Purdue beat OSU teams in '04 and '09 -- and almost beat the 2002 national champion OSU team that lucked out on a fourth down TD to beat the Boilers 10-6 -- that had ineligible players.)

See, our football program may not be very good right now, but it has had its moments over the years and they are moments we can -- and are -- proud of. Sure, a guy like Drew Brees doesn't come along often, but that's what makes him special. Guys like Terrelle Pryor, who gladly have their hand out for free "loaner" cars, tattoos for memorabilia, and other benefits are a dime a dozen. And you can keep them. Our time will come again. And when it does, it'll be even more special because we'll know it was done cleanly and there's no smoking gun to surface in the future.

Like I said, I hope it was worth it, OSU. You've disgraced yourselves and the Big Ten conference.

Weekend Gumbo

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