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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

All of the Jim Tressel and Ohio State Articles - Ex-Buckeyes not biting tongues on Tressel situation


Ex-Buckeyes not biting tongues on Tressel situation
john taylor msnbc.com

With reports surfacing Monday that Ohio State had, as expected, received their “notice of allegations” from the NCAA, and even as it contained no “new” information, the Jim Tressel “situation” seemed to get that much more real for Ohio State.
In appearances throughout the day yesterday on various ESPN platforms, a trio of high-profile ex-Buckeyes got down to straight real talk when it came to the current head coach at tOSU. And, to their credit, they refused to bite their tongue when it came to their former school.
Perhaps the strongest words came from former OSU running back Robert Smith, who heavily intimated that he doesn’t see this ending any other way than The Vest losing his job.
“Quite frankly … the information may be there, but I haven’t heard anything that in my estimation wouldn’t lead to his firing,” Smith said by way of the Detroit Free Press.
While not going as far as Smith, former quarterback Kirk Herbstreit, the most polarizing ex-Buckeye amongst the TV talking heads, “think[s] it would be very difficult moving forward with Jim Tressel” as OSU’s head coach, even as the school appears to be solidly behind Tressel at this point in time. And even as Buckeye Nation is “blindly” supporting the institution and coach.
“The Ohio State fan base is blindly just supporting Ohio State and Jim Tressel,” Herbstreit said. “It’s almost gotten to the point where he beat Michigan, he wins 10 games, he goes to BCS bowl games and they’ll support him no matter what he does as far as the fan base. If this would have happened to John Cooper, not only would they have fired him, they would have actually lined him up at a firing squad and fired him.”
Herbstreit, who created a stir earlier this year when he revealed that he was forced to move his family from Columbus to Tennessee due to a “relentless… 5 to 10 percent of the [OSU] fan base”, on the one hand believes that ”people are being a little unfair to (Tressel’s) character”. On the other hand, Herbstreit notes that “the bottom line is he broke the rules by the NCAA” and that such a situation makes it “very difficult after you do that to go into the future homes of recruits and try to recruit and try to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to do things the right way’ when you have this in your background.”
For ex-OSU linebacker/bad ass in perpetuity Chris Spielman, the recruiting issue is not really an issue at all, despite all that’s gone down in regards to The Vest over the past few months.
“If my son’s ever good enough to play for Ohio State, I want him to play for Jim Tressel,” Spielman said.
That said, even Spielman, who acknowledges a close relationship with Tressel, can see that a well-deserved hammer from the NCAA is coming.
“I think if you’re a true fan of Jim Tressel and a true fan of Ohio State, you understand that there has to be action taken against his mistakes that he’s made,” Spielman said. “He’s admitted he’s made mistakes and I think … the NCAA’s going to come down hard. I don’t think you can have a coach who knowingly put ineligible players on the field and you’re not going to take those games from them last year. …
“I think his intent was pure, but his actions justify the punishment that’s coming his way.”
Just what that punishment will ultimately be remains to be seen. Will the NCAA be satisfied with the self-imposed five-game suspension and $250,000 fine? Or, because of Tressel’s blatant dishonesty and outright lying, will the NCAA make an example of Tressel and turn him into the coaching equivalent of Dez Bryant?
Those were the same questions the NCAA was facing when it came to Bruce Pearl before Tennessee took the decision out of their hands by firing their men’s basketball coach. We still say that, barring any negative future revelations, OSU will not go the UT route. Then again, out of the 120 Div. 1-A head football coaches, we would’ve thought Tressel would’ve come in right around No. 120 on the list of coaches who would’ve participated in a cover-up, let alone be the mastermind behind it.








Tressel on borrowed time at Ohio State in wake of NCAA allegations
stewart mandel si.com
What has been whispered for nearly two months took a significant step toward becoming reality Monday: Jim Tressel's tenure at Ohio State is numbered. It may even be over before the end of the calendar year.
The NCAA sent a Notice of Allegations to the school last Friday, less than seven weeks since Ohio State self-reported Tressel's violation on March 8, virtually warp-speed for the governing body. As expected, the NCAA accused Tressel of ethical misconduct for failing to inform OSU officials of an e-mail tip he received that at least two of his current players were selling memorabilia to a local tattoo parlor owner and stated that Tressel "knowingly provided false information to the NCAA" by signing a compliance form last September stating he knew of no potential violations by his players. The letter also cites the school for using ineligible players last season.
The penalty for the latter is easy to predict: Ohio State will have to vacate its 11 regular-season wins from 2010 and presumably its Big Ten title. It should be off the hook for the Sugar Bowl because the NCAA reinstatement staff specifically cleared the players for that game (though the NCAA might contend it did so after being provided with false information).
As for Tressel, Ohio State will appear before the Committee on Infractions on Aug. 12 and make its case for why its self-imposed five-game suspension and $250,000 fine constitute sufficient punishment for the coach. However, past precedent for Bylaw 10.1 violations suggest the odds of Tressel keeping his job are slim.



The timing of the hearing could make for a particularly awkward scenario. Knowing how slow most NCAA investigations move, it was thought no definitive ruling would come down until after the 2011 season. But with an August hearing, the typical timeline suggests a verdict sometime in October. If given a show-cause penalty (the most severe the Committee can levy against a coach), Ohio State may have no choice but to cut ties with Tressel for good shortly after he returns from suspension. Tressel has given no indication he would consider stepping down voluntarily, and the school isn't likely to ax the revered coach on its own.
Beyond that, Ohio State can breathe a little easier knowing the NCAA found no basis to levy lack of institutional control or failure to monitor charges against the school. Therefore, it seems unlikely the school would face future penalties like a postseason ban or reduced scholarships, though the NCAA hinted that Ohio State could be treated as a "repeat violator" due to the 2004 case involving Troy Smith receiving money from a booster. The NCAA also gave Buckeyes fans plenty of cause for concern by asking the school to submit, among other things, its average number of scholarships over the past four years and its contractual agreements for live television contests over the next three seasons. (The latter is standard in these cases, but the Committee hasn't issued a television ban since the mid-90s.)
The main reason broader penalties against the school appear unlikely is because the NCAA appears to be pinning the blame for the situation almost entirely on Tressel.
According to the report, Tressel "knew or should have known that at least two football student-athletes" received benefits from Edward Rife and, by failing to report the information, "permitted football student-athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics competition while ineligible." In levying the unethical conduct charge, the NCAA writes that Tressel "failed to deport himself in accordance with the honesty and integrity normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics." If that language sounds familiar, that's because it's extremely similar to that written about ex-Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl in a Notice of Allegations the school received last February. The school dismissed Pearl before the case reached the Committee.
It will be interesting to see whether public opinion toward Tressel begins changing at all in Columbus, where the majority of Buckeyes fans continue to defend a coach whose persona is based in large part on his purported integrity. His greatest flaw, they might say, is that he cares too much about his players and was genuinely concerned for their safety. Yet here in writing, with little room for interpretation, is the NCAA flat-out saying Tressel failed to act with honesty and integrity.
Long story short: Tressel made a colossal mistake, and he's about to pay the price. In the end, it will inflict an even greater wound on the very players he cares about so deeply.











Jim Tressel is a big deal.
Tressel, Buckeyes at crossroadspat forde espn.com

Big salary. Big reputation. Big winning percentage (.828 at Ohio State, second-best in Big Ten history for coaches with 10 or more years in the league, trailing only Fielding H. Yost).
He is not, however, bigger than Ohio State. Which is why the school should terminate its star football coach before it responds in the coming months to the NCAA notice of allegations that was made public Monday.
Jim Tressel and Ohio State will face the NCAA's committee on infractions Aug. 12.
In that document, the NCAA charged Tressel with "potential major violations" related to his handling of what could go down as the most costly body art in college football history. The free tattoos and sold football memorabilia of five Buckeyes launched an investigation that could wind up bringing down The Vest.
And The Vest should go down.
Ohio State is stripped to its soul, and now we're going to see what the school is made of. Does it cherish its reputation more than its football prowess, or not?
To put it politely, The Ohio State University has a rather high opinion of itself. Buckeye Nation has always believed it stood for more than the average football factory. Its fans have long disdained the scofflaw status of the Southeastern Conference, even as SEC teams have taken turns beating the Buckeyes in big games over the years.
Now we'll find out what matters most.
The only bigger coach than Tressel in Ohio State history was Woody Hayes, winner of AP national championships in 1954 and '68 and the all-time leader in Big Ten conference victories with 152. Yet when Hayes shamed the university by punching Clemson's Charlie Bauman in the 1978 Gator Bowl, igniting a bench-clearing brawl, the school fired him the next day.
If Ohio State could fire its greatest football icon, it can fire Tressel.
Of course, Hayes' assault of Bauman was nationally televised; there was no mistaking or misunderstanding what occurred. It could not be taken out of context, glossed over or ascribed to any plot to take down the coach. A legend punched his way out of a job on live TV, leaving his employer no choice as far as how to act.
The Tressel transgressions carry no such visual payload, but that doesn't make them tolerable. The fact is, a coach who portrays and markets himself as something more than a coach -- a High-Character Leader of Men -- lied about what he knew, when he knew it and who he told about it.
In a clear attempt at damage control, as opposed to getting to the bottom of things, Tressel didn't consult with athletic director Gene Smith or the school's compliance department when he found out about Tattoogate. Instead, Tressel took the information to a guy named Ted Sarniak, a businessman from Terrelle Pryor's hometown who has a relationship (of some sort) with the quarterback. He also consulted with the lawyer who tipped him off to the federal investigation (former Buckeye walk-on Christopher Cicero), and with a member of the FBI.
When Ohio State announced its suspensions of the involved players in December, Tressel willingly played the part of a bewildered coach who was caught off guard by the whole thing. As emails were released in the ensuing months, it became obvious that wasn't the case.
At that time, Tressel said he kept the emails from Cicero to himself to avoid compromising the federal investigation of the tattoo parlor's owner. Except that wasn't quite true, either, since he forwarded them to Sarniak.
Which means Tressel did nothing that could have helped settle this little scandal in an above-board manner. Given a choice in how to handle it, he went under the table and then lied about it.
As the story got worse, Ohio State has grudgingly given ground -- trying to save face and save Tressel at the same time.
Players were suspended, but not the coach. Then the coach was suspended for two games in 2011. Then, when that looked like a soft response, Tressel asked for the suspension to be raised to five games -- commensurate with what the players got from the NCAA.
If recent history tells us anything, it's that the NCAA doesn't look kindly upon dissemblers. Ask former Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, whose college football career ended by misleading the NCAA. Former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl will find out the same thing eventually, when the NCAA could hit him with a show-cause order that prevents him from college coaching for some period of time.
Because he was a popular winner, Tennessee thought long and hard about keeping Pearl even after he was charged in September by the NCAA. The school was widely derided for that stance before ultimately coming around in March and firing him.
To many fans outside the SEC, the Volunteers' insistence in standing by Pearl for many months was seen as another example of the league's win-at-all-costs mentality. Ultimately, though, it did not last. Tennessee did what it had to do.
The Ohio State University finds itself in a similar situation now -- but the coach is an even bigger name, with a bigger salary and a bigger rep.
It's a tough position to be in. But Ohio State was faced with firing a football icon before, and did what it had to do. It should do so again -- not just as a message to the NCAA, but as a message to everyone about what the school is made of.




Will Ohio State avoid a postseason ban?
dennis dodd sportsline.com
Was Ohio State cut a break in its notice of allegations from the NCAA? So much so that the school may avoid a postseason ban in the Jim Tressel case?
Draw your own conclusions from these conclusions: While the 15-page NOA delivered last week seems fairly damning, it does not contain the NCAA's scarlet letter designations -- "failure to monitor" or "lack of institutional control". In most cases, the allegations are made by the enforcement staff in the NOA. Either can be added by the committee on infractions in the penalty phase but that is a rarer occurence. Despite the depth and scope of Tresselgate neither were included in regards to Ohio State.
Failure to monitor is more specific in terms of points of oversight in a specific area of the athletic department. Lack of institutional control says there is little or no oversight in general regarding a case. Go to the front of the NCAA Manual. The "Principle of Institutional Control" reads like the opening sentences of the Book of Genesis. [Emphasis added}
"It is the responsibility of each member institution to control its intercollegiate athletics program in compliance with the rules and regulations of the Association. The institution’s president or chancellor is responsible for the administration of all aspects of the athletics program, including approval of the budget and audit of all expenditures.
"The institution’s responsibility for the conduct of its intercollegiate athletics program includes responsibility for the actions of its staff members and for the actions of any other individual or organization engaged in activities promoting the athletics interests of the institution."
Merely taking into account the information in the NOA, it's hard to believe that Ohio State didn't get lack of institutional control. Its head coach lied and systematically circumvented the system by hiding damaging emails. I've said this in the past but this case comes down to the following: A 67-year old businessman in western Pennsylvania knew that Terrelle Pryor's name had popped up in a federal drug trafficking investigation before either the Ohio State AD or president.
That's bad enough. What a lot of folks have forgotten is the beginning of this case. Part of the reason those Ohio State players were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl was they "did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred," according to the NCAA. Once they got that rules education, another game was added (for a total of five) to the players' suspensions that take effect this season.
So if you're like me, you're wondering how an athletic and compliance department that didn't educate its players on an extra benefit rule that is considered common sense in the industry, didn't get cited further by the NCAA. Ohio State AD Gene Smith threw his compliance department under the bus back in December saying the nine-member staff was "complicit" in the violations because they did not make the extra benefits rule clear to players. We can argue why Ohio State got a break for its players when it is assumed that everyone knows, or should know, you can't sell your memorabilia. The point now is, why didn't Ohio State at least get "failure to monitor" when the NOA was delivered last week?
Both the NCAA and Smith called out the compliance department. That's a helluva place to start in assigning the scarlet letter.
An answer might be found in the manual. One of the presumptive penalties for a lack of institutional control violation is a postseason ban. It was described to me by a veteran of NCAA cases this way, "There is a higher presumption of a postseason ban," with a lack of institutional control. The manual states that a postseason ban is likely "particularly" when the violations reflect a lack of institutional control. There are almost always mitigating circumstances in these cases, but it seems by not citing Ohio State's oversight, a postseason ban is off the table.
That doesn't necessarily mean Ohio State won't get a bowl ban. The NCAA alleges in the NOA that Ohio State is a repeat violator, meaning that it has committed another major violation within the allowed five-year window. While OSU won't get the death penalty -- one of the possible penalties for being a repeat violator -- it could received enhanced penalties because of the repeat designation. Because of that, maybe the NCAA didn't feel it was necessary to allege lack of institutional control. The school already has hung itself for being a serial violator.
The case isn't over and who knows what will develop between now and when the penalties are released which, at the earliest, seem to be midseason? But if you read between the lines it seems that a postseason ban is unlikely. Think more in terms of at least two years probation, a vacation of wins from 2010 and perhaps some scholarships. The juiciest question, though, remains whether Tressel will coach again at Ohio State. Without answering that question at the moment, I will leave you with bylaw 11.1.2.1, "Responsibility of Head Coach".
"It shall be the responsibility of an institution’s head coach to promote an atmosphere for compliance within the program supervised by the coach and to monitor the activities regarding compliance of all assistant coaches and other administrators involved with the program who report directly or indirectly to the coach."

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