Is it possible to write things not about Ohio State's rapidly unraveling sweater? There is a hypothetical world in which this is the case, but it is not this one. Almost literally every day some new mortar lands in the Ohio State compliance department and detonates.
Some detonations are widely hyped and a little disappointing. Others are stealthy-like, come when you're watching Clint Dempsey add "…bitch" to the end of every sentence (and score!) and are like whoah. Blockquote unnecessary but present:
Terrelle Pryor, who announced through his attorney Tuesday that he would bypass his senior season at Ohio State, made thousands of dollars autographing memorabilia in 2009-10, a former friend who says he witnessed the transactions has told "Outside the Lines."
The signings for cash, which would be a violation of NCAA rules, occurred a minimum of 35 to 40 times, netting Pryor anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 that year, the former friend says. The source spoke to ESPN under the condition that his face not be aired on TV and that his name not be published.
As far as unsubstantiated anonymous sources go this one comes with a guy sporting an "infickellwetrust" handle on the eBays that was until recently "intresselwetrust" who sells all kinds of sports memorabilia including that from a lot of Buckeyes. So… wow. Get that paper, ignore the sense you are a walking self-parody. (Game used Henson cleats just 120!)
Does this add anything substantial to Ohio State's mounting pile of accusations or is it just a pile-on? Well, it has excised Terrelle Pryor from next year's season, leaving Ohio State to pick between Brooks Bollinger Memorial Eighth Year Senior Joe Bauserman, who's like 30 now or something and an assortment of underclassmen of whom true freshman Braxton Miller is the most touted.
But that's in the past, as Rich Rodriguez might have it. As for the future, this specific accusation is one that sounds scary but seems less likely to have a paper trail a compliance program can be expected to trace. Unlike the other accusations there's no email sitting in Tressel's inbox or compliance audit five years ago that was basically ignored or guy in charge of the equipment that should have one of those inventory things.
But while this specific thing may or may not add to the NCAA dogpile, if Brooks is correct about this…
In addition to Pryor’s past NCAA transgressions, today I confirmed that Ohio State was recently cited by NCAA enforcment officials for dozens of payments Pryor received in past years from a Columbus sports memorabilia dealer that are considered outside of NCAA rules.
The NCAA violations were discovered when the name of the local memorabilia dealer, Dennis Talbott, was seen on checks Pryor was depositing in his personal bank account.
…and personal bank accounts are being examined (probably with the threat of terminated eligibility hanging over the request), well, items have acquired a distinct nature of being in reality.
And then there's the stuff already known
Braves and Birds makes a point I've been trying to make but haven't done so as eloquently:
We are coming off of a season in which several teams lost key players because of suspensions for improper benefits. Ohio State’s head coach (and arguably their compliance department, which seems unable to find evidence of wrongdoing despite media outlets finding stories like candies tumbling out of a piñata) ignored evidence of similar violations on the part of his players. Doesn’t the NCAA have to reward schools like Georgia and North Carolina for being proactive in dealing with improper benefits by showing that the alternative is significantly worse? The NCAA needs to hammer Ohio State and not for punitive reasons or because the Bucks derived a major competitive advantage from its players trading memorabilia (that point is debatable), but rather to send a message to its members that self-reporting is a big deal. The whole system, which most closely resembles a rickety dam trying to hold back a flood of money headed towards the athletes who create it, depends on honest self-reporting.
It's hard to look at the USC violations, which were tied to the Trojan staff based on one two-and-a-half minute phone call to the running backs coach, and not see something worse coming down the pipe for OSU. USC:
- Had one player implicated for an awful lot of money.
- "Should have known" based on Todd McNair's Fisher-like desire not to know.
- Laughably stonewalled.
- Has one player implicated for a lot of money plus a half-dozen more confirmed NCAA violators plus an alleged two dozen more.
- Absolutely did know because the head coach was directly informed.
- Laughably stonewalled and, as a bonus, got the NCAA to declare its players eligible for the Sugar Bowl.
Unless the raw amount of money funneled to Reggie Bush is a significant factor (and I can't see why that would be since the difference here appears to be between low six digits and mid-fives) it seems hard to make a case that Ohio State shouldn't get penalties harsher than USC's—significantly harsher. I'd be interested to see if anyone can make a Devil's Advocate case that what's currently happening in Columbus is less severe than the Bush imbroglio. Pretty much the only person who's tried is Drew Sharp, and he did not do well* even considering he's Drew Sharp.
Seriously. The gauntlet is thrown down: can anyone make the case Ohio State should get off lighter than USC?
All better. Denard doppleganger détente, dastardly dialogue defused:
That is downright eerie. They are the same person.
Manball cyborg of yore. Have a desire to see Tom Coughlin get his face caved in Gary Moeller? (Very gradually, anyway.) Here you go:
The skill position talent that year was Desmond Howard, Derrick Alexander, Tyrone Wheatley, Ricky Powers, Elvis Grbac, and Dave Diebolt. That's insane, and Michigan played like it when not going up against Steve Emtmann. They put up at least 20 points in every game until losing to #1 Washington in the Rose Bowl, put up 30 eight times (including a 31-3 blowout of OSU), and cracked 40 five times against Big Ten opposition.
Deep as the sea. The Daily's Tim Rohan got Larry Foote and Jarrett Irons on the record about player payments; what they have to say is surprising unless it's completely unsurprising:
“It’s a lot bigger than Tressel,” said Foote, who was the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2001. “I’ve been telling people that. It’s a lot bigger. College atmospheres, big universities and athletic programs, they’re dirty — a lot of them are dirty. And coaches, they’ve got to take the fall.”
Both Foote and Irons said that in each of their own unique experiences they have come to understand it is common. Yet both denied any wrongdoing happening at Michigan.
“When I was at Michigan,” Foote continued, “that’s one thing I pride myself about Michigan, because the stories I hear about other teams with the money and the alumni and the stuff like that, the stuff I’m hearing — I mean it is brand new.
“And people don’t understand when they ask me, ‘How much money did you get?’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ I’ve never even heard of players at Michigan getting money. Not one story.
Irons is speaking from his experience attempting to recruit players to IMG, so he's a guy who would know. Michigan's compliance program coming down hard on anyone with a new car is recounted (again).
Maybe so? Previous skepticism about Notre Dame setting money on fire to join Hockey East because it has schools people have heard of (and by "schools" we mean "Boston College") is less skeptical now that one Jeff Jackson is on the record about it:
“It’s a possibility,” acknowledged Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson. “I know our athletic director and associate athletic director are doing their due diligence in looking at all of the alternatives.” …
Jackson said they will be looking at being in a conference with “like-minded schools” and that pertains to academics and other areas in addition to athletics.
“It’s not just about the hockey end of it,” said Jackson. “And we’re also looking at our access to TV rights.”
There are still a lot of hurdles. Hockey East does not want an odd number of teams so a 12th would have to be added, whether that's CCHA-killing Miami or one of the Atlantic Hockey schools that would like to offer a full complement of scholarships.
I'm not a big fan of the move, which would put the CCHA on precarious footing, but what can you do?
Go on you Tangerines. I linked this series on one Canadian's excellent adventure at the bottom of the Premiership table already but I'll do it again so I can grab a paragraph. Blackpool has just gone from 2-1 up with 33 minutes left to safety to 4-2 down and relegated. The third goal—the crippling one—was an own-goal by Blackpool stalwart Ian Evatt. In the aftermath Evatt is just shattered (example @ right). Cue Blackpool fans:
Marvelously, the Blackpool fans were chanting “ONE IAN EVATT…THERE’S ONLY ONE IAN EVATT.” Evatt, a few yards up the pitch from Holloway, head down and shoulders slumped, turned an acknowledged the support with a wave. I’ve mentioned it before but the relationship between clubs and fans in Europe is so different from the relationships in North America. When Steve Smith scored in 1986 to eliminate the Oilers from the playoffs, he was met with something less than complete support from the fans in Edmonton. As great as the Edmonton fans were in the 2006 playoffs, it was unthinkable that Ty Conklin could take to the ice again after his mistake in Game 1 - he didn’t have the reserve of goodwill to draw on that Evatt did but even if he did, it’s tough to imagine him receiving this sort of support. By turning the sporting experience into the commodity that it’s become in North America, in explicitly turning it into a business from which profits are expected to be generated, the relationship is different. Fans aren’t supporters in North America in the way that they are in Europe - they’re consumers. If the product that the team is offering stinks or the team hits on tough times, they react like consumers who are receiving poor service.
I'd like to think that college sports have some insulation from that but once PSLs come in and uniformz are deployed and it's clear your money teat is being milked not at all gently—80 dollar Eastern Michigan ticket ho—the differences are less than you might like. At least there's a damned war about booing people after things like the Toledo game. That's not a matter up for debate in pro sports.
(As a side note, what a good idea for a vacation: go to England during the final week of the Premier league season and go to as many relegation battles as possible. That's quality sports tourism.)
The court is a lie. Nobody circles the wagons like non-fake Buckeyes, even if they're Penguins. Former YSU quarterback and booster largess recipient Ray Isaac:
Number one, I’m totally responsible for what I did at Youngstown State University. Every year, from the time I was on campus, from ’88 to ’91, Tressel had compliance seminars — not to deal with bookies, not to deal with drugs, not to deal with not buying or selling anything. I knew exactly what I was getting into when I met [booster] Mickey Monus. It is implied that on the first meeting that I had with Mickey Monus that I received $150. That is the biggest lie ever told. … Jim Tressel never ever knew anything about our dealings. I kept it secret. To say Coach Tressel knew about this car, or knew about this money, listen, the only way that anyone knew about the money I received from Youngstown State University was Mickey Monus got indicted on $1.1 million worth of embezzlement and fraud.
In 1988, according to court documents from a jury-tampering trial involving Mickey Monus, a wealthy school trustee and the founder of the Phar-Mor chain of drug stores, Tressel had called Monus about arranging a job for Isaac. The player and the CEO had never met, but Isaac told SI that he had heard of Monus's "philanthropist-type hand" from two basketball players. At his first meeting with Monus, Isaac received $150. According to the court documents, by the time he left Youngstown State, in 1992, Isaac had collected more than $10,000 in cash and checks from Monus and Monus's associates and employees. …
Three years later Monus was on trial for jury tampering in the government's first prosecution of him, which had ended in a hung jury. During this trial (at which Monus was found not guilty) Monus and Isaac, who had pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe a juror on Monus's behalf, disclosed their financial dealings while Isaac was a student and alleged that Tressel had set these in motion with that first phone call.
A reporter covering the jury-tampering trial called the school and reported Monus's and Isaac's testimony, prompting an internal investigation. That probe revealed that Isaac's car was the worst-kept secret on campus. According to NCAA documents, all of Isaac's teammates who were interviewed "except one" knew about the car or had suspicions about it. Even people outside the football family knew. Pauline Saternow, then the school's compliance officer, had such misgivings about the car that she recused herself from the investigation committee because, according to Cochran, she did not feel she could be objective. Everyone raised an eyebrow -- except Tressel.
You can believe Ray Isaac, or you can believe Ray Isaac in court and all of Ray Isaac's teammates except the guy who you have to send all the Snopes links to.
Etc.: North Carolina braces for a notice of allegations from the NCAA. It will be a while before any penalties are clear but it sounds like UNC folk are expecting to take a scholarship hit of "minimal" intensity. LeCharles Bentley writes a David Mayo-level column for ESPN Cleveland: "[Denard Robinson, Braxton Miller, and Nathan Scheelhaase] would not have chosen the Big Ten if Pryor had not chosen the Big Ten — except perhaps Robinson. But that goes back to the point: Robinson followed Rich Rodriguez to Michigan in hopes of changing the landscape of the Big Ten."
UMHoops checks up on Robinson, Stauskas and possible (but probably not extant) third 2012 recruit. Greg Schiano wants to replace the punt with a 4th and 15 from the 30. I'm intrigued. We could actually shoot threes last year.
Remember CARA? Michigan's NCAA troubles began when the compliance forms designed to track countable hours stopped getting submitted in a timely fashion. One of Michigan's regular internal audits came around, noticed the empty file, and wrote something stern about it. Someone who has hopefully been fired with prejudice leaked that report, the Free Press piled on that molehill like a mofo, and bam: major-ish NCAA violations. The whole saga is encapsulated in a lengthy rant on this site.
The equivalent in Columbus has just been FOIAed:
An audit of Ohio State University's compliance department in November found that it was not doing enough to monitor the use of cars, uniforms and equipment by athletes.
… The OSU auditors wrote in November that the department needed to pay more attention to athletes' cars, particularly those driven by football players, and needed more control over the inventory of uniforms and equipment.
At this point Tressel had already failed to act on Cicero's email and the legal department was just about to stumble on this fact.
In Michigan's case they ended up releasing a torrent of emails from compliance to the football administrators that went unreplied to. (The only figure censured in the final report still at Michigan is Labadie-badgerer Ann Vollano.) In Ohio State's case it seems more like willfull ignorance, as the Dispatch buries its lead way at the bottom of its article:
In 2006, the auditors' review of athletes' car registration forms found that they were incomplete and sometimes inconsistent with the car registry maintained by University Transportation and Parking. Compliance officials vowed to correct the problem.
But last year, the auditors reviewed car registrations of 152 athletes and observed vehicles driven by football players to spring practice. Auditors found that 44 athletes bought parking permits for, received parking tickets in, or were seen driving cars that weren't registered.
Records obtained in May show that football players continue to submit incomplete forms, lacking sales prices, dates of purchases, co-signers and other required information.
That is an obvious, huge problem that Ohio State officials took no action on despite problems existing five years ago. Dollars to donuts the bulk of those odd cars were being driven by football players. Probably a third of the team was driving around in cars they had not registered with the department. They cleverly hid this fact by driving those cars to practice.
It makes me fist-shakingly angry to hear the new Pryorlawyer's spin about this—he just buys a new car every three months and takes them on test drives and this keeps happening despite getting two heinous speeding tickets. This does not happen to humans. It only happens to Buckeyes.
In The Tank
On a similar note, man, the Dispatch is fanboi central. You do not need to be told this. They have a "days since Michigan beat OSU" clock. But if they had any stones at all they would have turned this up years ago. In a way we might actually be thankful to them since the pattern of don'tgiveadamn got longer and longer as they asked Tressel about how awesome he was, but it's telling that all the Dispatch stories are coming from the news side of the aisle. Toy department in full effect.
As an example, by miraculous coincidence I actually read a Facebook message someone had sent me*; This message was attached to a message the guy had previously sent me in 2008, when Ohio State defensive lineman Doug Worthington picked up a DUI. Doug Lesmerises of the Plain Dealer checked the VIN number of what the police report said was a "2004 Cadillac station wagon" and found the car was in fact an Escalade. Homer McHomer (AKA Ken Gordon) at the Dispatch left that out of the story, causing one of those internet newpaper tiffs in which the principals gently poke at each other while maintaining solidarity against the masses.
Meanwhile, even Lesmerises missed kind of a thing when he attempted to explain the discrepancy:
What exactly does that mean?
Not that much, according to Richard Morman, the deputy chief of police for the OSU campus police. He said that Worthington had recently purchased the Escalade (which goes for about $20,000 to $24,000 according to the Kelley Blue Book). According to Morman, the dealer put his old plates, from what Morman said was a GMC sports utility vehicle, on the Escalade and told Worthington to make sure the plates were properly transferred
Lesmerises noticed the discrepancy between what the car was supposed to be on the police report and what the campus police said, but didn't follow up. That's better than Homer McHomer playing see no evil, but something less than dogged.
This section will probably get me a sarcastic tweet from a newspaper guy comparing this section to my reaction to the Free Press. So: I've never been against digging, just being completely wrong and sensational.
*[Do not send me facebook messages—I don't reply. Sorry. Email is always best.]
via the always brilliant Prevail and Ride. Warning: cartoon genitalia ahead.
Should the Late Carr Malaise be re-evaluated in light of the fact that USC and Ohio State were cheating on epic scales?
The Horror, 2007 Oregon and 2005 Minnesota still happened, of course. But 2003 and 2006 might look very different to us if USC and OSU hadn’t been quite so stacked—in which case we might see 2005 and 2007 as off years rather than symptoms of a systematic decline.
Yours in Michigan Football Historiography,
Possibly? It's impossible to tell how much of an advantage Ohio State got with its Tats For Everyone program and USC got with its Look, Snoop Dogg(!) program, and the list of knocks against Lloyd Carr's career gets a lot shorter if you remove "could not beat USC or Jim Tressel" from the list.
Carr might be regarded on par with Bo today if he'd flipped some scores in USC Rose Bowls and 2006's Football Armageddon, during which Troy Smith torched Morgan Trent. Troy Smith got a wrist-slap for taking 500 bucks, but given what we know now it seems improbable that was all he did. If he was in the supplemental draft, Michigan plays for a national title with Jake Long and a bizarre dominance of Florida instead of still-drunk-from-last-night Alex Boone and a paralyzing fear of the SEC.
However, while Carr's career might have been truly legendary without Cheatypants Sweatervest and Pete Carroll tag-teaming the NCAA rule book, the degradation at the tail end of his career wouldn't have changed. No one did The Horror to Michigan except Michigan; no one else lost that bumper crop of instate talent and left the program with six offensive linemen and only one primadonna itching to leave between Michigan and total quarterback implosion; no one else provided Michigan zero plausible in-house options in a program that evidently needed one.
HOWEVA HOWEVA, a hypothetical win in one of those Rose Bowls or Football Armageddon might have avoided that fate because it would have caused Carr to retire earlier, avoiding a good chunk of the nastiness comprising the last four years. Sans cheating, Carr probably has two or three more wins that swing public opinion of him from solid B+ to Bo 2.0.
I was having a facebook conversation with a guy I played football with in high school. He played at a moderately successful IA school from a non-BCS conference, and made the comment that "this goes on at every big-time school." It's important to note that he is NOT any kind of an OSU fan, and that when he said "big-time" it was to note that it didn't happen at his school. Now if "this" means the ebay and the tattoos, I don't really care too much. But if "this" refers to raiding the equipment room and the improper benefits, than I'd like to step off my high horse.
I know he's not really in a position to know, and I know neither are you - but please speculate for me. When the Reggie Bush thing broke, everybody said "well that's how USC dominated." When the Cam Newton thing broke, it was "that's how the SEC dominates." Not it's Ohio, and people say the same thing. But at the same time - Rich Rodriguez did convince an awful lot of people from the south to come to Michigan. Most southerners I know bristle when they hear the word "Michigan" just because of the thought of cold. Maurice Clarett and Terrelle Pryor both took official visits to Michigan. Am I just being paranoid when I get nervous about Brady Hoke kicking butt at recruiting?
I say that we just had NCAA investigators pore over our program, brick by brick. I say that similar scandals to the tattoo scandal broke with AJ Green and at UNC without it implicating the institutions as a whole. But I can't help but be a little nervous - do we have anything to worry about? Do all the "big boys" do this kind of thing?
I think the eBay thing in general has started talk about reforming college sports scholarships and restrictions on activities. But if the shadier parts, of agents and boosters, is widespread - if all the major programs have their own Ed Martin - then can college sports as we know it continue to exist as we pretend it does?
Sorry for the long email - please tell me there are no monsters under the bed.
I can't flat out say "there are no monsters under the bed" after the Jihad. During that I repeatedly assured everyone that Michigan's compliance was Serious Business that would have all this stuff amply documented. Instead we got a lot of emails from Ann Vollano to Brad Labadie and zero in return. Things can break down; what we saw during the Jihad was a broken system that needed a revamp. It could have exposed Michigan to something serious if they had recruited a 6'6" sociopath instead of the world's nicest cheetah strapped to a jet engine and pushed out of a plane.
HOWEVA, in the aftermath a large number of people lost their jobs (or sought other opportunities or whatever other euphemism you would prefer—I like "succumbed to gumball addiction"). With Michigan on probation and Dave Brandon acting as new sheriff* things are on lockdown right now as they're ever going to be. When things are on lockdown the worst thing that happens is some kid does something wrong with some agent and gets suspended a la Marcus Ray or AJ Green. (I'm not so sure UNC is going to get off with just their suspensions, FWIW. Wasn't John Blake in some serious dirt?)
As to your larger point, no, I don't think This Happens Everywhere. That Texas walk-on's story demonstrates there are places that are serious about compliance. Here's beloved MGoStoryteller CRex with a local example:
As someone who once helped a football player fix his car, Michigan compliance was so far up my ass there was a blue lot in my lower colon and I almost got my own blue bus stop. The player bought the tie rods and I did the labor since I knew how and had the tools. He paid me for my time in beer and pizza. Compliance jumped all over this and figured out the hourly rate for a mechanic was greater than the cost of the beer and pizza, thus he still owed me money. I attempted to lowball my time estimate for doing the job, they talked to a real mechanic and got the official time estimate for tie rod replacement. They were also unimpressed by the fact I helped all my friends fix their cars in exchange for beer and pizza. So they basically stood over him while he wrote me a check for what they demanded the difference was. They also made him pay my uncle who let us use the lift in his garage.
I tossed the check aside and figured "I might cash this if he gets drafted, maybe". Someone though noticed the money never came out of his account and started calling me about cashing the damn check. This was old school Carr era though.
The next time I worked on his car I sarcastically sent them an invoice (six page writeup for helping him replace two brake pads) "for their records", they crosschecked all my time estimates and sent me back an approval letter and a genuine thank you for the paper...
While it's impossible to prevent local restaurants from giving players extra chicken wings or free cover, there is a level of shadiness that can be effectively regulated. A debate about whether amateurism is ethical is outside the scope of my brain right now because I'm so happy I'm not wearing pants.
*[While it's obvious I'm ambivalent about Brandon these days what with the whole creeping advertisements, night game uniformz, and failure to put Special K's head on a pike two minutes after taking the job, the way he handled the NCAA investigation both during and after is a huge, huge positive. Our athletic director may suffer a curly fries mascot in Michigan Stadium and refer to the department as "I" but…
…it could be so much worse.
Also, video replay in Yost.]
How does Tresselgate (and rumors of systemic NCAA violations) compare to the Fab Five fiasco in terms of sheer magnitude, and in terms of discredit they bring to the university in question?
They're pretty similar. In both you have guys taking extra benefits from guys who may or may not technically be boosters, and in both the violations stretch over some years with multiple players. (With way fewer players on scholarship, four basketball players is approximately equal to the 28 Buckeyes SI say are trading stuff for tats.)
The major differences:
- Tressel lied to the NCAA multiple times; Fisher didn't.
- Michigan fired Fisher immediately and without regret, then went into their Day Of Great Shame routine. Ohio State tried to convince everyone this was worthy of a two game suspension.
- Ohio State had plenty of warning in the public eye from the Clarett accusations and the Smith handshake. Michigan had never brushed up against similar allegations.
I'm guessing Tatgate will be worse from an NCAA standpoint. In the end, Michigan got one year of postseason ban and a one scholarship penalty for four years. If Ohio State gets off with the equivalent they'll be skipping and everyone will be outraged. From a program standpoint, it won't be as bad because Ohio State isn't going to hire Brian Ellerbe. From a shame standpoint, probably worse since at least Michigan didn't go around pretending everything was cool.
latter via @lukezim
Well, that was anticlimactic. One day you're all lawyerin' up with Gene Marsh and the next you're calling up Rich Rodriguez for that sweet CBS College Sports hookup. That's life as a warden: one day the cop cars roll up and there's just one way out.
More anticlimactic yet was Waiting For Dohrmann, the end result of which was one (anonymous) awesome story about Tressel rigging a camp raffle and a few more violation-type things that may or may not end up part of a very long document issued by the NCAA. The Dispatch story about Terrelle Pryor's eternal test drive seems more damaging at the moment. That came with strong rumors that Pryor is done at Ohio State as the result of an honest-to-God investigation; the Dohrmann piece is just talking to a couple of unreliable-seeming dudes who may go Ray Small on us once it becomes clear to them that they're going to have to follow Herbstreit out of town. As far as camel-incapacitating things go this was not the anvil promised by Tressel's sudden resignation. It was barely a straw.
So either there's more coming or Ohio State knows that the cats being loosed willy-nilly all over yonder and back can be sourced better than SI can put together on short notice. That's not a huge leap. At this point we have statements from six OSU athletes—Robert Rose (new in the SI article), Ray Small, Antonio Pittman, Maurice Clarett, Mark Titus, Marco Cooper—that hookups on everything from tats to cars were widespread dating back to 2002. Pryor's had at least a half-dozen loaner cars and drove up to a team meeting yesterday in this baby:
Note the temporary tag on the back. Terrelle Pryor is the biggest dodged bullet in the history of the concept.
The picture painted by sketch tattoo artist, discontented former players, random humor-writing walk-ons, and, you know, evidence collected by a federal investigation and a billion public records requests makes—wait. We've done this already. I've used the phrase "beggars belief," and since then we've had the Titus thing and the Small thing and the Pryor car thing expanded and the car guy says he's talked to OSU compliance more than 50 times and, yes, Dohrmann talked to a couple of sketch guys who indicted another three dozen or so Buckeyes. We passed the point where it was obvious Ohio State had come to define "lack of institutional control" about a month ago.
All the steady trickle of information that's come out since has done is confirm what Michigan fans knew in the deepest, most deranged bits of their conspiratorial hearts. All that stuff that the goofiest winged-helmet-baseball-cap wearing fanboi said was the rotten core of the Buckeye empire in various all-caps posts on your favorite message board is… like… true. Close enough, anyway. If it's not yet, accurate-to-date Buckeye insider types rumble about "much more."
But Ohio State's date with the NCAA is months away, possibly longer as they attempt to compile the ever-expanding pile of doom into a coherent narrative. Tressel's done now.
And what is he? Last summer I went on the Bucknuts podcast and grudgingly admitted Tressel was top five coach who had halted the parade of embarrassments OSU suffered under Cooper (Ken-yon Rambo's 0.0 GPA, losses to Michigan, etc). I'd been taken in like everyone other than the tinfoil hat wearers of the internet. He's not that.
He's not a paragon of virtue, either. The most annoying meme in the aftermath is about how Jim Tressel is a saintly man who made a "mistake" and the world is worse off now that he's not a football coach and will not be helping young men from rough and tumble backgrounds meet eligible young boosters:
Jim Tressel’s departure at Ohio State is a sad loss of a man with character. College athletics needs more men like Tressel among its ranks. Sadly, the atmosphere is not conducive for good men lasting too long.
With some notable exceptions, Ohio State fans on the internet have turned into Tammy Faye Baker.
click for slightly big
Tressel did not make "a" "mistake". He has spent the last 15 years of his life cultivating a studied ignorance of obvious NCAA violations. He may be a nice, Christ-fearing dude—not like anyone has flogged the Bible to shield himself from criticism—but he can still do that as a civilian. The fact that he texts psalms to former quarterbacks ("Get yours"—Tressel 3:16*) doesn't mean a series of choices spanning more than a decade is a mistake. He's not even trying to play by the rules everyone else signed up for.
So spare us the hymnal, cooler-poopers. Jim Tressel
is was a football coach, not a social worker. As he did this he turned boys into men like every football coach does. This just makes him a football coach. He's also a hypocrite and liar who lived up to the "Senator" nickname in the end, his moral rectitude just a cover.
He got what was coming in the end, and now a comically inept Ohio State administration—TWO GAMES!—is going to get theirs. We have not seen the last of the gun in the desk drawer in Columbus.
The Importance Of The Stuff In The Dohrmann Article
While you'd have to be a Vest true believer to believe the accusations leveled in it are false, without a federal trail of evidence the track record of such things actually resulting in boot to the face is not great.
To me the most important bit about the SI article is the accusation about Pryor—love you, big guy xoxo—raiding the equipment closet for rad epic loot. That's something trackable. Not tracking it: failing to monitor. Tracking it and not being like "hey, Pryor, why do you need sixteen sets of shoulder pads": some other variety of major violation. Complicit equipment managers are a relatively common source of major violations.
Meanwhile, if the NCAA can't get Rose or Small or someone on the record it won't matter how obvious it is the entire Ohio State starting lineup should be suspended since there's no evidence other than "jeez, duh."
A Strong Contender For Animated GIF Of Forever
Via "The Monarch."
Why Tressel had to go, and why it was obvious, in the words of Mike Riley:
"Jim's deal is a lesson," Oregon State head coach Mike Riley said last month. "Anything that comes up, you've just got to give it to compliance right now. In our world today, you think it's not going to be found out eventually?"
Our world today, indeed. Ohio State discovered Tressel's knowledge of the tattoo parlor case in January only by digging up e-mail correspondence from April 2010.
"I tell our players all the time," Riley said. "As soon as you start going down the wrong track and you start doing something wrong, the clock starts ticking until the day you get caught, because it's going to happen."
If he wasn't fired the above would not be true and the entire rickety structure of NCAA compliance—built on self-reporting—would collapse. Ohio State suspending Tressel for two games was an outrageous joke that shows you the stark difference between the way Smith and Gee handled this and how adults would have. They've botched this from the start and will reap the whirlwind for their efforts.
BONUS: Wetzel on the react to the original press conference:
The moment called for solemn acknowledgement of a mistake and the promise to the university that the truth would be gathered. Instead it was a pseudo pep rally. My phone was flooded with calls and texts from administrators at other schools and conferences who couldn’t believe what they’d just witnessed.
Meanwhile, you can't throw a rock without hitting a Buckeye player excommunicating another Buckeye player for outing the program shenanigans. Tyler Moeller is the latest, this time taking shots at Mark Titus for stating the obvious. Can't wait to see the reaction to Robert Rose now. How many ex-Buckeyes have to state that many in the program are on the take before the others give up the ghost?
And, God, Pryor… I maintain an almost total ban on badmouthing specific kids as bad people but it's impossible to talk about Ohio State football without remarking on the fact that Pryor is a sociopath and this was obvious from the start:
Pryor showed that he felt entitled when he met questions from those who attended his collegiate announcement by scoffing, “Whether I was a bad kid or not, you‘re all still here.”
Not even the Touch of Tressel can redeem him. The car! He shows up anywhere in that car! He's not even a well-written villain—it's like he's a foil for Jackie Chan. Twitter search his handle for schadenfreude? Twitter search his handle for schadenfreude.
Former players react as in an ambivalent fashion. Wojo says this opens the door for Michigan, which yeah. It's almost reassuring that you can rely on David Mayo to come up with the stupidest possible take. Mets Maize has a cat + Keanu Reeves picture via serendipitous Google Image Search. Also words. Genuinely Sarcastic has the full dossier of Tressel's funny business, and he posted it Friday(!). BWS was hoping for more.
*[I know this is not a psalm. TIA.]
State turdstorm UPDATE! Yesterday Eleven Warriors graciously posted that Maurice Clarett might be a troubled weirdo who tried to take down Ohio State after he got the boot, but at least he's a trying troubled weirdo and he's not all bad. This is a level of understanding I do not have with Tractor Traylor even after the guy died tragically.
11W's reward for this understanding is to have Ray Small go MoCo:
"We have apartments, car notes," he said. "So you got things like that and you look around and you're like, ‘Well I got (four) of them, I can sell one or two and get some money to pay this rent."
The wheeling and dealing didn't stop with rings. The best deals came from car dealerships, Small said.
"It was definitely the deals on the cars. I don't see why it's a big deal," said Small, who identified Jack Maxton Chevrolet as the players' main resource.
The Columbus Dispatch reported on May 7 that OSU was investigating more than 50 transactions between OSU athletes and their families and Jack Maxton Chevrolet or Auto Direct.
Representatives for Jack Maxton Chevrolet did not return repeated requests for comment.
NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from benefiting from the sale of their merchandise. Small said he wasn't the only one.
"They have a lot (of dirt) on everybody," Small said, "cause everybody was doing it."
Man… Ray Small. That guy was in trouble from day one at OSU, threw regular public hissy-fits about it, and he wasn't even that good at football. If I was an Ohio State fan he would be in my circle of the damned. Their term for this rapidly expanding category that includes Kirk Herbstreit and (to the truly deranged) Chris Spielman is "Fake Buckeye."
You can add Mark "Club Trillion" Titus to that list after he posted there was definitely something "shady" going on with football players' cars, then followed it up with a rebuttal saying that he shouldn't get death threats because that's mean. Titus claims the shadiness was to the point where most students knew or should have known what was going on.
Meanwhile, the local news station is investigating the Gibson thing and while that transaction continues to get more complicated it's not getting proportionally more explicable:
10 Investigates [sic] found that Gibson had a trade-in. He traded in a 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo that BMV records showed he bought for $15,400 just seven months earlier.
But the dealership may have given him only $1,000 toward the trade-in, [instead] dropping the sales price of the car he was buying by a substantial amount.
10 Investigates [sic] has learned that's what Kniffin has told investigators with the BMV.
The trade-in business materializes as predicted; an explanation for how Thad Gibson scraped together enough money to buy two cars worth a total of 30k in less than a year is yet to be explained. Along The Oletangy responds to the investigation apparently clearing the transactions:
In any case, it doesn't matter what the BMV finds when they analyze Jack Maxton Chevrolet's tax forms as long as no special treatment was given to Ohio State football players.
It's obvious plenty of special treatment was provided, but where is the smoking gun?
Position paper on demolition of Ohio State program and whether it is good or bad. If Ohio State was going to fall apart by Notre Daming themselves with a series of coaching hires ranging from questionable to insane, that would be a thing to be conflicted about in the same way certain Ohio State fans are bored with a terrible Michigan team they're just going to blow out.
This is a different thing entirely since it suggests the fence Tressel legendarily put up around Ohio's borders is one based on massive NCAA noncompliance. Meanwhile, thanks in part to this (and in part to Michigan imploding) they've gone 9-1 and turned the Big Ten into their personal playground. If the NCAA finds proof of this massive noncompliance and OSU gets bombed into the stone age and is no longer any good, there's no conflict there. It's an unadulterated good. Michigan has been hypersensitive about this stuff since the Ed Martin Day Of Great Shame, and it's obvious their main rival hasn't. Putting that on even footing will help put the rivalry there if it doesn't swing it all the way back to the Cooper days, which fine by me.
Hot under the collar, part II. ESPN's Mike Fish, you may remember from the above-referenced Maurice Clarett bombing, has a new article. This is the header image:
Africa basketball charity, AAU player headed to Indiana, Tom Crean, Indiana AAU coach. This can't be good. Not pictured: involuntary adoption. Hooray Beilein.
Hey let's rehash this again. MZone noticed that I hadn't mentioned Lloyd Carr's election to the College Football Hall of Fame and asks why I hate Lloyd Carr, complete with requisite psychoanalysis and link to me being mad in the immediate aftermath of the Hoke hire when everyone was mad, something I've obviously backed away from in multiple column-length pieces since.
To defend myself: I don't take the CFHOF seriously. It just elected Deion Sanders. When Tom Curtis was elected it warranted about two sentences. For better or worse, I am totally uninterested in the charity work of rich people. I've also said my bit about Carr as Michigan's coach over and over again. Contrary to two-bit psychoanalysis it was not negative, or at least it was far less negative than many.
And I am pissed off at the hostility to change that's obvious every time any former Carr player says something about anything. We've got a program of Joe Morgans. I'm worried how that will manifest itself on the field. It's not hard to draw a contrast between what's gone down the last three years and what would have gone down if Bo was still around. Bo would have been on the warpath; he probably would have dropped by to scream at Rodriguez some. The impression we've gotten from every one of Carr's former players is that there is exactly one person responsible for Michigan's decline—Rich Rodriguez—and not only is that incorrect (Horror, DeBord, Tressel vs Carr) but it's detrimental to Michigan's future. If we got back to the days where every bowl opponent laughs at how predictable we are that will not be good.
(I don't think that's happening because Borges is a real live offensive coordinator and not a broken robot that only calls zone left. Hoke uber alles.)
Eyerolling reorg. Adam Wodon on the inevitable hockey realignment coming sounds like anyone talking about anything last year when talking about conference realignment:
It all starts with Notre Dame. (Well, it all started with Penn State and the Big Ten, but that's already happened.) Think about it — you're Notre Dame's president. Your sports teams all play in the Big East, or, in the case of football, is the most storied program in college sports. You fire up CHN's iPhone app one morning to check the hockey standings, and what do you see? You see Notre Dame competing against some MAC and D-II schools. You recoil. This is not what Notre Dame does. This is not what Notre Dame is.
That is not a knock on the other schools, it's just reality. There is no way that Notre Dame is staying put. That means that the CCHA is certain to lose its remaining powerhouse (from an institutional, NCAA-wide standpoint), and fall further to seven teams. That means the CCHA is in trouble, as a whole.
Maybe Wodon's got some inside chatter on this that he's refusing to mention in an effort to make his column as annoyingly speculative as possible, but this is the impetus for an elaborate reorganization scenario that sees Notre Dame move to Hockey East because they'd rather play Merrimack (seriously) than Ferris State.
Notre Dame is choosing between some games against BC and then a bunch of schools no one at Notre Dame has heard of plus flying for literally every road game and staying in the CCHA. While ND has money, are they going to spend it on that for no real benefit? And will Hockey East expand to an eleven teams just for the dubious benefits of having ND in the conference? Travel costs matter in hockey, the longest season in the NCAA, and no one is going to make enough money on an ND move to justify the increased costs even if "this is not what Notre Dame does." Yeesh.