NCAA sanctions are often the result of just one particularly stupid act.
Ohio State is now staring down the barrel of a gun because when Chris Cicero found out that Buckeyes were selling memorabilia for tattoos, he sent an email to Jim Tressel, rather than picking up the phone. Had he telephoned the OSU coach, there would have been no paper trail to prove that Tressel lied, when he claimed (many months later) that the violations were news to him.
Of course, Tressel compounded his sin by forwarding the emails to Terrelle Pryor’s “mentor,” Ted Sarniak, while claiming later on that he failed to tell Compliance because he considered them confidential. But even without that error, Tressel was in violation the instant he found out about probable violations, and sat on them.
Without the incriminating emails, this case would have been no different from those of Ray Isaac, Maurice Clarett, and Troy Smith: Tressel would have claimed he knew nothing, and there would have been no way to disprove him. Common sense would suggest that when the same type of violation occurs repeatedly around athletes under your supervision, any coach serious about compliance would see a pattern, and do something about it.
But to find OSU guilty of the most serious violations, the NCAA needs to prove that the coach actually knew, and that’s devilishly difficult to do, unless the coach or someone in his circle is awfully stupid—as Chris Cicero was, in writing to Tressel, rather than speaking to him.
The same thing happened in the USC case. The evidence that anyone on Pete Carroll’s staff actually knew (as opposed to the proverbial “should have known”) Reggie Bush was on the take is actually very limited, and mostly circumstantial: a photo of assistant coach Todd McNair with Bush associate Lloyd Lake, along with cell phone records proving that the two had spoken once (though not what they had spoken about).
You can argue at OSU, as people did at USC, that if Bush was paid to the tune of $700,000 over multiple years, the rest of the team probably wasn’t squeaky clean. But even the NCAA needs actual proof, and that is usually hard to come by.
For that reason, I suspect the worst news about Jim Tressel is already out there. It’s not that the Tat 5 were the first time he cheated. It’s that no one will be able to prove the other times.
Prayers for him and his family.
Following up on Tom VH's post from yesterday, ESPN and Rivals are reporting that Aziz Shittu has withdrawn his commitment to Stanford and is opening up his recruting again. It certainly seemed to be moving in that direction in Tom VH's post and it's official now.
Ok so let me preface this post by saying that I'm a Walmart Wolverine whose only venture into the Midwest came when I spent a long weekend in Chicago 3 years ago. What I'm wondering is what makes the Ohio recruiting grounds so much superior to Michigan? For as much anti-Ohio sentiment as there is around here, it's an accepted fact among everyone that Ohio has the better players. The thread a few posts down the board references an SI article that says Ohio State is still the #2 most desirable coaching job in college football regardless of the future sanctions that they have coming their way. The author's rational was nothing more than the fact that they will always have the inside track on Ohio recruiting.
This leads me to believe that the football culture in Ohio is deadly serious and at a level unmatched elsewhere in the country save for Texas and maybe Florida. Is this the case? The state has a population of 11.5 million which is comparable to Illinois at 13 million and Michigan at about 10 million. Is Ohio's commitment to youth football just that much more fanatical than other Midwestern states? It's become abundantly clear to me that OSU fans have a win at all cost mentality but does that same fanaticism trickle down to the high school level and, if so, does it serve to create better players?
My gut feeling is that other states have a much more rational outlook on the sport. The passion of the Michigan fanbase is unquestionable but at the same time I don't see the typical Michigan fan forcing their kids into football. In other words, I get the impression from the majority of MGoUsers that it's ok if your son wants to play baseball or join an after school debate team or whatever. I'd appreciate it if someone could shed some light on this topic for an outsider like me.
The title of the topic does not do it justice, but Spencer's thoughtful piece on the nature of college football coaches and alcohol is definitely worth your time on this Friday afternoon.
(yes, I realize most of you read EDSBS every day, but this is a great piece of writing.)