Banhammer Looms Over Columbus

“After meeting with university officials, we agreed that it is in the best interest of Ohio State that I resign as head football coach,” It’s over Ohio.

Jim Tressel has announced his resignation today, amid allegations of improper player benefits, and future NCAA violations. In that statement, one important word is “resign”; Tressel was not forced out. Tressel did not face a university board, or fight the Athletic Director for the chance to stay. He stepped away at his own discretion, and the university let him.

The Ohio State University has a mess to clean up, and within the next 24 hours, could have an apocalyptic mess on their hands. Kirk Herbstreit (former OSU quarterback) says Sports Illustrated has a big-time new report coming out later, and ongoing investigations by the NCAA could find more infractions. 5 players were already suspended for the first five games with more to possibly come. Now there’s no head coach and an ominous feeling of an actual judgement day in Columbus.

Jim Tressel’s resignation is the next sign in things to come for Ohio State football. Abandoning ship is a possible indication that, yes, more violations are to surface, and they are not good. Tressel has not bounced for another job elsewhere, as Dennis Erickson did in 1994, but because of the current infractions, and the possibility of more–who would have hired him yesterday, and who will hire him now? Him leaving in his own decision hurts the university, because now, the NCAA will show no mercy and come in swinging with the banhammer and take care of business. In investigations such as these, universities that self-report and self-enforce violations see some grace from the NCAA, but OSU has stepped way beyond that.

E-mails have been reported documenting Jim Tressel’s knowledge of player wrongdoing months before the allegations were even public. 5 Ohio State football players traded gear for tattoo’s and money, and to be revealed later, possibly a whole slew of more illegal activities. “Tat5”, as they are affectionately called, includes star quarterback Terrell Pryor, running back Noah Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, starting left tackle Mike Adams and backup defensive end Soloman Thomas. Tressel has also coached problems such as Maurice Clarett, Ray Small and Troy Smith. And that is only what has been uncovered in investigations so far. Tressel dug his own grave by not taking action after receiving those e-mail reports–evidence that he had knowledge of players receiving improper benefits. He took no action, and now the school will suffer from it.

So what’s in store for Ohio State now? The most intense, mind-numbing waiting game, as more and more reports will come out of violations, with serious penalties awaiting the program. Will OSU see the death penalty? There’s a chance; the penalties could be similar to USC’s two year postseason ban, vacated wins and one Heisman Trophy, and a loss of 30 scholarships, 10 per year over 3 years. But USC reported its infractions to the NCAA and put an initial ban on itself; the NCAA set a new sanction, and as harsh as it is, that was bestowed upon USC with mercy. The NCAA should not show any mercy to The Ohio State University.

This is also a chance for the NCAA to redeem themselves, after they suspended the Tat5 for only five games, yet suspended Dez Bryant for an entire season. Bryant spent a day with a non-Oklahoma State alumni, Deion Sanders. They worked out and talked, and nothing more came of it; only because Bryant didn’t report it, was it a violation. The Tat5 sold and traded championship rings, game used gear and even awards for tattoo’s. This has been clearly documented and is illegal in the fact that these players are receiving improper benefits, such as goods and services at a reduced price, against NCAA law. Wha-? How? C’mon NCAA. Terrell Pryor, the star Buckeye quarterback, elected to stay in school for his senior year by request of Tressel. Sweatervest is now gone, and Pryor has to spend the next year in Columbus in a suspension riddled disaster zone in Ohio. There is the NFL Supplemental Draft, but it’s not like there’s a season to be played there–but that’s a whole different topic. The fallout in Columbus should be extreme as some current players will transfer out, recent high school signings will opt out of their letters of intent. Were the tattoos worth it?

News coverage of Tressel’s resignation has shown there are plenty of supporters of Tressel and what he has done; albeit most are Ohio State people. Praise is dumped on the coach and people are acting shocked. But news of possible scandal has been out for a while. One could not ignore the fact that Tressel was soon to be on his way out. Newsflash: Jim Tressel is not squeaky clean. He isn’t very clean at all. Desmond Howard had a good point suggesting Tressel was not acting in the best interest of the school, he was out to protect his winning percentage. If he had done what was expected, what was right, what was logical to his job, he’d still be employed. Instead he’s hurting players, the university and himself. His ass-backward way of protecting himself with cover-ups and secrecy ended his reign at Ohio State.

For those calling Urban Meyer or any other successful coach to Columbus, Ohio, keep dreaming. Meyer likes to lay and spread the dirt, and the filth has already consumed the Buckeyes. But in the next 3-5 Meyer will be a coaching candidate, and start a brand new mess. Other coaches will laugh at the offer once NCAA sanctions come out. Luke Fickell was slated to be the acting head coach while Tressel served his five game ban, but looks like Fickell will be on top of a dying program as interim for a year. Good luck Luke. Bo Pelini of Nebraska is building something special in Lincoln, in Ohio State’s conference. Gary Patterson’s been running train on the country with TCU and his move was with his team–to the Big East, an automatic-qualifying BCS conference. His departure from Fort Worth is unlikely. And for these three, purely hypothetical candidates, NCAA sanctions are not a situation they want to be moving into; they’re doing quiet well at their own schools, and Meyer, well he’s already got one university wallowing in his wake as he praises Timmy Tebow on TV. If the penalties are as severe as predicted, it will be a few years before Ohio State can win again. Will Ohio State ever recover? Will their stuck up fans realize the Sweatervest has ruined their program?

Michael Schwartz is a staff writer for Home Field Advantage


About Home Field Advantage
We are two senior Sports Communication majors at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. We have launched this blog as part of our senior year capping project, with the goal of creating a comparative analysis and multimedia approach to the differing sports cultures in America.

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