"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
The Jim Tressel years at Ohio State, from a Michigan fan's perspective, as told through all Rolling Stones U.S. studio album titles (though the albums are not in chronological order)*:
*-warning: some reaches are shoulder-separating in nature
England's Newest Hitmaker: OK, Ohio's. Only variation here. With the Ohio State football fortunes reeling in January 2001, head coach John Cooper is finally fired after 13 seasons of disappointments, great expectations and ultimately false promise. Enter Jim Tressel.
Beggars Banquet: The night of his hiring, he attends an OSU basketball game and promises the crowd they'll all be proud of their Buckeyes in the classroom, in the tattoo parlors and, most especially, at the auto dealerships. Or something like that.
Between the Buttons: Woody Hayes' trademark game-day fashion statement was short-sleeve shirts — no matter the month, no matter the weather. Tressel decides his will be a sweatervest.
Emotional Rescue: Tressel comes through with a huge upset win in Ann Arbor in his first game against Michigan in 2001. It is Ohio State's first win at Michigan in 14 years, and denies Michigan a Big Ten championship and BCS berth. Buckeye Nation rejoices.
A Bigger Bang: What could Tressel do for an encore? Only go 14-0 and win the national championship.
Out of Our Heads: The 2002 Michigan at Ohio State football game. UM fans escape with their lives, some barely, after the worst treatment ever accorded visiting fans at a Big Ten football game. Before and after, thousands of piss-drunk wrist-draggers unleash waves of vandalism, violence and urine along the Olentangy, as Columbus police pepper-spray the unruly mobs. Oddly, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce does not brag about this day in its brochures.
Bridges to Babylon: Even before the title game against Miami, Tressel's star player — freshman running back Maurice Clarett — starts coming unhinged. Then in the off-season it comes out that Clarett was on the take from boosters, for thousands of dollars, as OSU would later reveal. Tressel pleads ignorance throughout. In retrospect, this is where he began selling his soul, as he'd done at Youngstown State. Clarett gets suspended, then eventually kicked out of school, after which he tries to sell out the school and AD, but Tressel's teflon is brand new and works magnificently. Nothing to see here, move along.
Sticky Fingers: In an October 2003 night game at Wisconsin, after the whistle blows on a non-descript play, OSU linebacker Robert Reynolds just can't seem to pry his Spock death-grip off the throat of Badgers QB Jim Sorgi, injuring his trachea, rendering him unable to speak and struggling to breathe. Sorgi can't play the rest of the way but Wisconsin wins anyway.
Their Satanic Majesties Request: The entire Michigan team and its entourage, without any advance notice, are detained entrance at the gates of Ohio Stadium before the 2004 game. The buses empty, while security personnel and bomb- and drug-sniffing dogs look slowly and intently for Osama Bin Laden, as Michigan's young team is left surrounded by the venomous wrist-draggers.
Undercover: Less than a month after coming out of nowhere on the OSU roster to beat Michigan in that 2004 game, QB Troy Smith is found to have taken money from a booster. He is suspended for the bowl game, and Tressel (who claimed to know nothing about it) doesn't start him early in 2005.
Goat's Head Soup: In the 2006 #1 vs #2 showdown game, Michigan trails only 35-31 when eventual Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith runs out of bounds near midfield, far short of a first down on a 3rd-and-long. But Michigan's Shawn Crable plays the goat, hitting Smith in the head as he goes out of bound — either hard enough to warrant a penalty or not, depending on your maize-and-blue glasses. that puts Michigan in the soup after the 15-yard walkoff. OSU wins 42-39.
Black and Blue: Michigan's senior offensive stars, QB Chad Henne and RB Mike Hart, are black and blue and barely able to play in the 2007 Big Ten title showdown at Ann Arbor. Ohio State cruises to a 14-3 win, Lloyd Carr's final game at the Big House. But for the second straight season, the Buckeyes are beaten black and blue by an SEC team in the BCS title game, last year Florida, this year LSU.
Let it Bleed: Tressel's Buckeyes pulverize Rich Rodriguez's Wolverines in 2008 and 2010, and even though in 2009 the Wolverines play over their heads, they still turn it over five times in a 21-10 loss. After the win in 2010, Tressel's winning streak vs Michigan increases to 7, and his record against the Wolverines improves to 9-1.
December's Children: In the last month of 2010, the FBI tips off Ohio State (conveniently, eight months later and only a couple weeks after the football season) that five Ohio State players have sold trinkets and other items in exchange for tattoos at a notorious Columbus tattoo parlor. With the lobbying help of Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney, the five players are allowed to still play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas, and will instead serve five-game suspensions to start 2011.
12x5: Against Arkansas, 12 points total are scored by the Tat Five, and Ohio State wins the Sugar Bowl, 31-26.
Dirty Work: In March 2011, Yahoo.com learns that an internal audit of emails by Ohio State lawyers — as part of their self-examination to satisfy NCAA investigators — has revealed that Jim Tressel knew of the Tat Five incident back in April 2010, yet did not inform anyone at the university, then lied in September and again in December about having been aware the whole time. This deceit thus allows the Tat FIve to play every game in 2010.
Some Girls: Before Yahoo can post its report, Ohio State beats them to the punch by conducting the Worst. Bad Announcement. Press Conference. Ever. Bar. None. In an incomprehensibly incompetent display of contrition, accountability, honesty, intelligence, PR savvy and masculinity — the likes of which might never be seen again — OSU president Gordon Gee, AD Gene Smith and Tressel put on tutus and slippers, assume first position, stare into the mirrors and dance around everything.
It's Only Rock and Roll: The media can't let this go now— they all are salivating at the chance to uncover what these bozos at the press conference were clearly trying to gloss over. Investigations are rockin' and rollin' come April. And we like it. Even the (news desk of the) Columbus Dispatch gets into the FOI game. Tressel is found to have lied at the news conference when it is learned he forwarded the April 2010 tipoff email about the Tat Five to QB Terrelle Pryor's 'handler' back in Pennsylvania.
Tattoo You: And you, and you, and you, and you. In May 2011, Sports Illustrated sends to Columbus a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, an expert in college sports corruption. He discovers, among other things, that many more OSU football players, going back many more years, have been trading trinkets and even loads of their football equipment at two local tattoo parlors, in exchange for tattoos and even pot.
Voodoo Lounge: The current tattoo parlor du jour is described by SI sources to be a favorite hangout of many Ohio State football players, where they go to lounge around, play video games and who knows what-all.
Exile on Main St.: The damning SI article is the tipping point. Ohio State cuts Tressel loose.
Steel Wheels: With a suspended driver's license, Terrelle Pryor drives to the team meeting at which Tressel informs his charges he has resigned. It is the fourth or fifth known loaner car, or bargain car, Pryor has driven while in Columbus, the worst kept secret in town. Many other Ohio State players and their families have been getting ridiculously good deals at a couple of local car dealerships for years, as former OSU WR Ray Small bragged in the days before Tressel's canning. And OSU compliance doesn't know anything about it, only they do because the salesman in question says he has spoken with OSU's head of compliance in great detail about it all on the phone some 50 times.
Aftermath: Tressel's name is mud, permanently. And in something only Dickens could dream up, a Luke Fickell is the new head football coach at Ohio State. Well, interim head coach.
Now: As the NCAA investigators recomb Columbus, sure to find more, the Michigan fanbase can repair its heart of stone. Ten years of pain and 19 nervous breakdowns later, we have got our Satisfaction. He couldn't hear the NCAA knocking, but no sympathy for this devil. Best of all, they'll never make a saint of him.
A few weeks ago I had reported that Stanford commit DT Aziz Shittu would potentially take an official visit to Michigan this fall. Shittu, who is a five star prospect and ranked 12th in the country overall by Rivals, says he's now considering opening his recruitment up completely.
When asked what had changed with his recruitment Shittu said, "I haven't talked to [the coaches] about it so it's not official, but I want to enjoy the process," he said. "I'm thinking about opening everything up." So he hasn't officially decommitted from the Cardinal yet, but by the sounds of it he might be back on the market soon.
Shittu currently boasts 21 scholarship offers that includes Stanford, Michigan, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, and USC to name a few. If he does reopen his recruitment that would likely mean he would take summer visits. "I'm not sure yet where I want to visit, but I'm going to get out there. I'd like to make it out to Michigan," said Shittu. "I like [Michigan's] tradition and the style of play they want to do."
His commitment to Stanford tells you a lot about the quality of person that he is, and his 3.8 GPA gives you an idea how much he values academics. Whether he decommits from Stanford officially or not, it's safe to say that his recruitment is far from over.
LA Nike OL vs DL: Aziz Shittu:
From: The Ohio State Univeristy Office of Public Relations
Section 1: Recognizing an Emergency Situation
Recognizing a crisis is not always easy, but you can follow these simple guidelines to identify whether or not you are part of a crisis situation:
1. Are you, students, university employees or university property in immediate physical danger? If so, you are involved in a physical emergency. Contact local emergency dispatchers and university administrators. Refer to Section 2A.
2. Are you, students, university employees or university property involved in a situation that may have legal ramifications? If so, you are involved in a legal emergency. Contact emergency services if necessary, and contact the university legal department right away. Refer to Section 2B.
3. Are you, students, university employees or university property involved in a situation that may potentially reflect positively or negatively on any OSU properties or entities in the press, public, or with academic or athletic associations with which the university is involved? If so, the situation should be treated as a "Communications Emergency", and no action should be taken until confering with the PR department. Refer to Section 2C.
Section 2C: "Communications Emergencies"
As a state funded institution in the modern era, it is important to recognize that there is no such thing as "private communication," and any situation that deviates even slightly from your ordinary, daily tasks may constitute an "emergency." Emergencies may be positive, such as a large university donation, a success story with a student, or a faculty group that recieves praise for their efforts. Emergencies may also be negative, such as a student-athlete involved in illegal or immoral activities, a professor carrying on an improper relationship with a student, or a rash of poor attendance at lectures.
NOTE: All Legal and Physical Emergencies are also Communications Emergencies, but many situations may constitute a Communications Emergency that do not statisfy the other crteria.
In all Communications Emegencies, it is important to bring all relevant information to the attention of your supervisors and the university PR department right away. Remember that their job is to protect the interests of the university. That includes you. It is in your best interest to be as forthcoming as possible at all times. Furthermore, remember that no information is secret in the modern day, and sharing it with the PR department will ensure simple, easy information dispensation that either/both minimizes negative concepts and/or maximizes the positive.
NEVER ATTEMPT TO CONCEAL INFORMATION THAT
What conclusions can we draw from this snippet?
1. Tressel, Gee and the entire athletic department are illiterate.
2. It'll take months to clean up the mess in the PR offices.
Huge thanks to MGoUser "Mich Fan From Brooklyn" [Endi Mitchell] for attending this camp, shooting the video, taking notes, and conducting interviews. He did an awesome job. Here's what Endi captured from the Future Phenom Showcase that took place in Brooklyn, New York this past weekend:
Wayne Morgan won fastest man award, while LB Devaughn Cholette took home MVP for the camp.
Notes on Wayne:
- Listed at 5'10", 187 lbs.
- Hampered by a hamstring injury from earlier in the week
- 40 yard dash was hand timed. Wayne's two times were 4.43 and 4.35 respectively [featured in the video below].
- 20 yard shuttle times were 4.22 and 4.09 seconds.
- Endi thought Wayne was very aggressive. He went against the taller, lengthy receivers and showed great press ability. He allowed very little separation, and showed the speed to stay with all of the receivers there. He looked like the most athletic player on the field.
- Morgan worked at both corner and safety and looked even more impressive at safety. He closed on routes and was always in position to make a play. It seemed like the quarterbacks didn't want to throw his way, and when they did it was overthrown.
- Wayne is very confident, very vocal with his fellow defenders and even more so towards the receivers. He seemed to have a short memory when he made a mistake, he came back and corrected it the next time.
Feeling a little philosophical this morning, my friends. I've been thinking all day about all of this whole mess over there in Columbus, and how the meltdown is deserved and how it will affect the Brady Hoke era. But then I got to thinking about life, and young men, and the choices I make.
And I got to thinking about Terrelle Pryor. I remember sitting in bed sick as a dog on National Signing Day, waiting for the first victory in the rivalry by Rich Rodgriguez, only to be blown off by an eighteen-ish year old kid several hours away from me. And even then, as I sat hoping he would choose a block M hat somehwere, I began to dislike him.
But throughout all of this, he is just a young man, making choices. We've recently seen in our own camp how the choices of a young man can and will crush his dreams, and you can all speculate about who I am referring to. But these choices affect us only until their position is filled by another athlete. But for the student-- the kid-- it will affect much more.
Ten, twenty years from now, Terrelle Pryor (and probably each of the rest of his Tat-gate posse) will wake up. He will scramble out of bed, perhaps a bit slowly as a result of a few, or even several, years in the National Football League. I will not speculate on the quality of his home, or perhaps who might be lying beside him in that bed. But he will wake up and have to pee.
And so Terrelle will go into the bathroom, a pale shadow of the athlete he once was. He will turn on the light, and look in the mirror. He'll stare into his own eyes, at peace with the choices he's made. He will be able to sleep at night, and he'll have made peace with himself, and the media, and the fans of the school that he may not have graduated from, but he played football at. He'll be okay with the tremendous scrutiny he suffered as he moved onto the world of professional sports, and all of the decisions both smart and poor he will have made with the resulting payoff. He will have moved on with his life.
But then, he'll see them.
Right there, as he reaches for the toothbrush, he'll see those damn tattoos. No matter where he goes in life, and no matter what he does with his God-given talents, those tattoos will follow him to the farthest reaches of the earth. Those permanently inked stains of skin, up to and including that iconic Block "O" that symbolizes the very school he painfully severed ties with (and perhaps later sold down the river in a tantalizing ESPN the Magazine tell-all), will be there looking back at him. When he gets married, they will be beneath his suit. When he cradles his firstborn son, they will be there in the pictures. When he reaches out in forgiveness or humility, they will be there. They will remain as permanent and all-encompassing stamps of his life.
And no matter where he goes, or what he does for the rest of his days on the great green Earth, he will be defined by them.
Life is about decisions, kids. And decisions are about the rest of your life.
There was an episode of The Twilight Zone in 1961. At the outset, we are introduced to a Mr. Hector B. Poole — played by the original Durwood from Bewitched — who is on his way in to work when he tosses a coin into a newsie's cashbox. The coin stands on its end, and stays that way. Instantly, Mr. Hector B. Poole can hear everyone's unspoken thoughts. A loan manager at a bank, Poole that day saves the outlet from a disastrous loan default when he 'hears' a respected businessman tell himself he's going to take the ostensible business loan and go gambling with it. By workday's end, Poole 'hears' his boss's plans to meet up with his young squeeze on the side, and Poole shrewdly blackmails him into giving him a big promotion. After leaving the office triumphantly, Poole tosses another coin into the same newsie's cashbox — and knocks over the coin that had been on its edge all day. Hector B. Poole can no longer read minds.
"One time in a million, a coin will land on its edge," series creator and narrator Rod Serling says in the epilogue. "But all it takes to knock it over is a vagrant breeze, a vibration or a slight blow. Hector B. Poole — a human coin, on edge for a brief time ... in The Twilight Zone."
This classic episode came to mind at some point near the end of the Troy Smith years of the Jim Tressel era at Ohio State. Maybe it was during the first half of the 2006 showdown, when Smith was as by-god good as any college quarterback I'd ever seen. Again. For the third time. I think that was when it first occurred that Tressel's two best quarterbacks to that point — Craig Krenzel and Smith — were flukes. Neither got his big chance because Tressel figured he was the best quarterback at the start of his breakthrough season. Or, in Krenzel's case, even the second best.
But this incredible string of luck for Tressel didn't end there. Right up until the past couple of months, when it came to his quarterbacks, Tressel was Hector B. Poole. He threw a coin into the quarterback cashbox in November 2001, and it stood on its side for the next 10 years. To wit:
In Tressel's first year, 2001, all Buckeye fans were over-the-moon ecstatic after the autumn press conference at which the then most-heralded HS QB in Ohio history, Justin Zwick, announced he was Columbus bound. All Tressel and OSU had to do was get through the rest of the miserable 2001 season with inconsistent, mistake-prone senior Steve Bellisari at QB, then Zwick would take over in 2002 — because, the belief went, the cupboard was empty at QB after Bellisari. And this kid Zwick was as can't-miss as they come.
Some 10 days before the 2001 Michigan game, Bellisari was caught DUI on campus and suspended for the next two games. Scott McMullen, the backup, started the penultimate regular-season game against Illinois and was terrible. Clipboard-holidng 3rd stringer, Craig Krenzel, was given a chance as Illinois was blowing out the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium. He fared a bit better. With Bellisari still suspended, Krenzel got the start the next week in Ann Arbor. We all know what happened then. Krenzel does his thing, is surprisingly efficient and accurate and avoids the big mistakes — ie, Tressel-ball — and a star is born. If Bellisari never had driven drunk, odds are Krenzel never does anything but hold a clipboard or motion in signals for the rest of his Ohio State football career.
Yet come fall 2002, many OSU fans still want the phenom Zwick to start right out of the gate, but Tressel finally goes with the junior Krenzel. We all know what happened in 2002. Krenzel plays solidly if not ever spectacularly, but is amazingly clutch at the right times, and the Bucks go 14-0 and win the national title.
Krenzel of course is QB for his senior year too in 2003, but gets outplayed by John Navarre in the big 100th Big One showdown in Ann Arbor.
Come fall 2004, Buckeye Nation anxiously awaits for the Zwick era to, at last, gloriously begin. One problem. He's terrible. He's big, lumbersome (6-4, 225), not very accurate and surprisingly weak-armed. Tressel, though, still thinks Zwick gives OSU the best chance to win in 2004. Zwick gets OSU off to a stumbling 3-3 start, including losses at Northwestern and an absolute blowout loss at night at Iowa. Buckeye Nation wolves are out, in force. Was 2002 just a one-season fluke? Is Tressel over his head? The Great God Tressel panics. With Zwick dinged up, Tressel decides to bench him come November, and installs a completely new offense late in the season, behind a new QB — a desperate gamble to do such a thing late in the year, as observers of Michigan's defense the past three seasons can attest. Tressel replaces Zwick with little-known backup QB Troy Smith, who had been only an after-thought 3-star 'athlete' recruit in Zwick's 2002 class. Smith was so much an after-thought all through 2002 and 2003 that, with no chance of playing, he would admit later he was seldom focusing on football and was always getting into trouble, and indeed was out partying with Santonio Holmes in the night-club incident the week of the 2003 Michigan game, which compelled The Great Punisher Tressel to bench Holmes, his best offensive player, for an entire series (!) in Ann Arbor.
Back to Nov 2004. In his first start, Troy Smith looks good vs MSU (what QB didn't that year), but looks terrible in a loss at Purdue the next week. Now Michigan, undefeated in conference play and 9-1 overall behind its over-achieving true-frosh QB Chad Henne, comes to Ohio State. We all know what happened next. Smith does the Denard Notre Dame 2010 thing in 2004, in 2005 and in 2006. Tressel and Ohio State grab the M-OSU series, Ohio recruiting and the entire Big Ten all by the jugular.
The coin was still on its side when, with Troy Smith finally gone, Todd Boeckman led Ohio State to the 2007 Big Ten showdown game in Ann Arbor, Carr's last game as head coach in Michigan Stadium. Boeckman plays so awfully in the first half, Tressel is scared to throw at all in the second half. But because Michigan is so inept on offense, Tressel decides he can afford to play it as conservatively as Bo or Woody with a 4-point lead in 1973 and thus sits on a 7-3 lead with nothing but conservative running plays. It works. 14-3 final.
Then the Terrelle Pryor era, come 2008. And yet three more painful Michigan losses to Ohio State.
Think of what might have happened had Bellisari not driven drunk back in Nov 2001. He'd have got the nod at QB in Ann Arbor, when Michigan was playing for the outright BIg Ten title and Sugar Bowl berth (with the Rose rented out for the BCS title game). Bellisari would have probably done what he always did — mixed good plays with terrible ones, and as likely as not UM would have won and gone to the Sugar instead of Illinois, a team UM had crushed in September. It would have been Lloyd's fourth Big Ten title in five years. And Tressel would have been lampooned for having given his unfulfilled "you'll be especially proud in Ann Arbor" speech. What's more, the pressure to start Zwick at the beginning of the 2002 season would have been immense — especially after not having ever taken the clipboard out of Craig Krenzel's hands to see what he could do in real time. And with a true-frosh at QB in 2002, let alone one as mediocre as Zwick, there's no conceivable way that OSU would have won the Big Ten in 2002, let alone gone 14-0 and won the national title.
So, was Ohio State's great run through the Troy Smith years a result of great coaching, or incredibly great fortune?
Until late last year, I'd been telling anyone who would listen for four years that Tressel had WAYYY overdrawn from the Bank of Good QB Fortune, and that a major correction just had — just had — to be around the corner soon. My friends, and I'm sure Brian, got tired of me saying it. I'd kind of forgotten about the whole thing until today. I wasn't expecting The Great Leveller to come in the form of NCAA rules-breaking shenanigans by Tressel to protect his — tada!!!!! — star QB, Terrelle Pryor. But that's how it went down. It all evens out in the end, friends.
Today, the coin finally fell over.
Hector B. Tressel — a human coin, on edge for a brief time ... in The Twilight Zone.