Golden Bobcats fans are doing the rending of garments, blaming of the media, and ritualistic voodoo poking of Gene Smith after their idiotic AD sacrificed the relevance of the 2012 season on the altar of a 6-6 team's Gator Bowl. They're sad. They should be grateful Columbus isn't a smoking crater.
The rest of us should be pissed. Doctor Saturday lays out the case for this being a frustratingly weak penalty:
The accusations against Ohio State involved at least nine players, the head coach and an Ohio State booster, none of whom denied the charges. (See below.) Not only did the starting quarterback and other Buckeye stars accept cash and prizes from multiple third parties: Coach Jim Tressel knew they had accepted cash and prizes from multiple third parties, and actively covered up the fact for an entire season while they won him another Big Ten championship. (Per the NCAA, Tressel "had at least four different opportunities to report the information, and his failure to do so led to allowing several football student-athletes to compete while ineligible.") Once that game was up last December, Tressel proceeded to cover up the coverup while the same players went on to win the Sugar Bowl.
The response was hardly a slap on the wrist. But compared to the book the committee threw at USC for lesser offenses, it is… well, it's a significantly smaller book: A one-year bowl ban as opposed to two, nine suspended scholarships as opposed to thirty. …
The double standard is obvious enough. And the reason is just as clear: The NCAA is significantly less concerned with actions that is with reactions.
Now that everything's sunk in, it is weak. Exceedingly so. It only seemed like a pleasant surprise yesterday because the OSU athletic department had been lying to anyone who would listen about the severity of the sanctions forthcoming. Five players ineligible play an entire season and the NCAA doesn't even issue the two-for-one scholarship penalties that seem like a bare minimum. A head coach making a mockery of the NCAA's enforcement process but no lack of institutional control. This is one of the ways in which a university can demonstrate a LOIC:
A head coach has special obligation to establish a spirit of compliance among the entire team, including assistant coaches, other staff and student-athletes. The head coach must generally observe the activities of assistant coaches and staff to determine if they are acting in compliance with NCAA rules. Too often, when assistant coaches are involved in a web of serious violations, head coaches profess ignorance, saying that they were too busy to know what was occurring and that they trusted their assistants. Such a failure by head coaches to control their teams, alone or with the assistance of a staff member with compliance responsibilities, is a lack of institutional control.
Here there is no deniability and yet the university didn't even get a failure to monitor charge until the NCAA found a no-show-job check stub in Terrelle Pryor's bank account. Ohio State escaped. USC got hammered based on one photo.
I have no idea why. Hinton goes on to make the case that the NCAA's double standard arises from a cooperative OSU administration contrasted against the defiant Trojans. That's rapidly solidifying into the conventional wisdom, seemingly because it's the only possible explanation. There's just one catch: it's not true. This was USC's institutional response:
Since the allegations surfaced, USC has been working closely with the NCAA and the Pac-10 in an attempt to get to the truth.
Working in conjunction with the NCAA and the Pac-10 — we have already interviewed approximately 50 people and spent many hundreds of hours investigating these allegations. We have no idea how long this investigation will continue — and no one is more anxious to bring this process to a conclusion than we are — but we remain committed to getting to the truth.
USC has participated in every interview — except those few from which we were excluded. Our exclusion from these interviews mainly stemmed from demands from those making allegations against our student-athletes, insisting that no one from USC be present.
We have cooperated and worked together with the NCAA and Pac-10 every step of the way during this process and we intend to continue to do so.
The bluster about jealousy and whatnot happened, IIRC, after the sanctions were announced.
Compare that to Ohio State's pathetic reaction to the Tressel violations that eventually got the guy a five year show-cause penalty: a two game suspension that they modified to five before hiring an adult to consult with them about the likelihood the NCAA would not burn Jim Tressel to the ground. They eventually fire-resign-retired Tressel. By the time they did it was clear someone had sat them down and told them there was no way they would be able to keep him employed. Firing Tressel wasn't a choice. Tressel fired himself by lying about the eligibility of five athletes four separate times. OSU deserves no credit for taking a step they knew they'd have to take. They were so disgusted by his actions that they had him talk to the team before the Michigan game. Meanwhile, Smith went with the Garrett taunt in July:
"I'll be shocked and disappointed and on the offensive," Smith said, if the NCAA adds punishments that cause students or the school to lose money. "Unless something new arises from where we are today, it'll be behavior (from me) you haven't witnessed."
If you can parse out a more compliant athletic department between the two you are a black belt in hair-splitting.
So I'm with former USC tight end Alex Holmes:
"If you set the bar with USC," asks Holmes, "and how the NCAA came down hard when they had one assistant coach [Todd McNair] and one player [Bush] involved and here you have the head coach and half of the team is allowed to play when the head coach knew they were ineligible and they only lose nine scholarships? That's mind-boggling." …
"The definition of lack of institutional control is when your head coach is covering stuff up to facilitate guys being able to play," Holmes said. "The head coach is in charge of everyone. Tressel was caught and he knew all this was going on. Also how did those guys play in that bowl game? This is unbelievable. They were all lying."
Either you're burning a corrupt culture to the ground for half a decade or more (USC) or you're letting them get on with it after a single year of mild penance(OSU). So much for "high profile players need high profile compliance."
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the NCAA is not entering a new era of penalties stiff enough to dissuade cheaters of the massive, rampant, no-deniability variety. But I am.