Let's deploy the fourth-grader test on Ohio State's response to the NCAA:
The institution is very surprised and disappointed by the lack of action in this matter by then Head Football Coach Jim Tressel. His behavior in this situation is out of character for him, as he has been a man of integrity and high moral standards since his hiring as the head football coach in 2001. His lack of action in this matter appears to have been the result of indecisiveness regarding the appropriate actions to take in this specific situation in which he was placed, as opposed to a blatant disregard of NCAA legislation. … The institution will not excuse such behavior. As a result, the institution has imposed significant corrective and punitive actions upon itself and sought and received the resignation of Tressel.
This is why, possessing every scrap of information about Tressel they have today, they fiercely suspended him for two games against MAC schools, and then suspended him for five games, before finally accepting his resignation, oops wait it's actually a retirement and that 250k you owe us… yeah, nevermind. Truly the behavior of Jim Tressel was a heinous deed the university abhors. It is clear that the Ohio State University took one look at Jim Tressel's actions and said "this will not stand." We are embarrassed.
What say you, fourth graders?
Hmm. The fourth-graders do not seem to buy it.
Fourth graders, what do you think about the assertion that Jim Tressel's "indecisiveness" led him to email a shady "mentor" about this a dozen times, but not compliance? Or the NCAA any of the three subsequent times he had an opportunity to say "oh, right, that whole thing about tattoos some guy I know personally who has helped us out before and I spent large parts of my summer emailing people who were not my compliance department about… yeah, that"? Fourth graders, do you believe Jim Tressel is an indecisive person?
No. No you do not.
The danger is that the NCAA might buy it, though, isn't it? If the NCAA buys that the problem is limited to Tressel because nine Buckeyes ticketed in loaner cars and reports that are unconfirmed but obvious from a half-dozen Buckeyes about Hookups on Tats and other things, and they aren't incensed by being duped about the Sugar Bowl, and they aren't incensed by OSU's actions against a "very successful coach in a very popular sport in a very short period of time" then they could get away with violating the most important aspect of NCAA enforcement: you are expected to police yourself.
So, NCAA: are you dumber than a fourth grader?
This is an important question to answer. Here's hoping the answer is "no," because an organization that reacts to the things Jim Tressel did in the way Ohio State did and then has the audacity to say something like this if the NCAA dares add punishment to what can't even be described as a wrist-slap…
"I'll be shocked and disappointed and on the offensive," Smith said. "Unless something new arises from where we are today, it'll be behavior (from me) you haven't witnessed."*
…you're being called out. Ohio State is daring you. They are double-dog daring you. Either send Gene Smith on the warpath and the unemployment line or establish defiant see-no-evil as the new baseline for enforcement.
*[What would that be? Contrition? A lack of wholesale delusion? The vague impression of competency.]
Excessively Defensive Section
Twitter was overrun with Buckeyes in various states of glee, denial, and smack-talking yesterday, with much of it directed at Michigan fans for their various states of butthurt, disbelief, and cynicism. These emotions are not limited to Michigan fans. It's hard to find someone who's not mocking Ohio State in the aftermath.
TSN's Dave Curtis:
As this story evolves, it’s tougher to conceive of Tressel as the only evil in that football program or athletic department. If he’s not, and the NCAA finds out, the Buckeyes will face USC-style sanctions. If he was, then Ohio State is guilty of failing to monitor its coach, and lacking institutional control by letting Tressel gain so much power.
Some concession, some spreading of the problem behind the head coach, would have marked a small first step in helping the Buckeyes win back the public. It would have helped with the NCAA, too.
The public’s only recourse is ranting and complaining. NCAA officials can punish to the point of paralyzing the program for a while. And come the fall, that’s exactly what they will do.
ESPN's Brian Bennett:
I can envision the following conversation during Ohio State's hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions next month.
"So, you vacated your wins from 2010?" an infractions committee member says.
"Yes," Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee says. "It was the least we could do."
"You're right," the committee member responds. "It was technically the least you could possibly do."
Tom Fornelli and Jerry Hinnen, Notre Dame and Auburn fans respectively:
Fornelli: Ohio State just really doesn't seem to get it, or they're in a deep state of denial. The NCAA isn't going to see that the school has vacated it's wins from last season and move on. There will be scholarships lost, and there will be a postseason bowl ban for a year or two. It's not fair to the players on the team or whichever coach eventually takes over for Tressel, but unfortunately for Ohio State, the NCAA knows that you can't just erase the past and fix things.
Hinnen: We're assuming they do. Since we're discussing the NCAA's Committee on Infractions here, there's no way to know exactly what they're going to do until they do it. Precedents mean nothing and logic is frequently tossed aside like so many babies in so much bathwater.
But if the COI ever wants to be taken seriously, rubber-stamping OSU's self-imposed "punishment" and giving the Buckeyes a pat on the head just can't be an option. Without subpoena power, the only thing standing between the NCAA and utter investigative helplessness is honesty and cooperation from those involved. What it got instead from from OSU was Tressel lying through his teeth with Gee and Smith nodding genially at his side. The NCAA tried to be lenient with the Buckeyes once already--and was repaid with a sham of a Sugar Bowl and a carton's worth of egg on its face for its troubles.
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Bud Shaw only speaks in one-sentence paragraphs:
The question is whether it's doing so as a strategy or out of delusion. Delusion is the leader in the clubhouse.
The Buckeyes started out looking nonchalant in all this, remember. Now, they just look arrogant.
Early on, they opened themselves to charges that their internal investigation amounted to, "Nothing to see here, move along."
This is an administration that initially wrist-slapped Tressel with a two-game ban, then increased it to five, then sought his resignation and now is fitting him for a pillory for display before the NCAA.
The designated media contrarian—there's always one—is Stewart Mandel, who argues that the media firestorm in the aftermath of the NCAA's allegations hasn't materially affected the charges, which the school argues are limited to Tressel. I'd think the head coach lying to keep six players eligible for an entire season obviously deserves a bowl ban and scholarship pain even when you don't account for OSU's persistently nose-thumbing response.