Fire Jim Tressel

Submitted by Brian on March 10th, 2011 at 2:23 PM

[Ed: I said on WTKA this morning that I didn't think this should cost Tressel his job, but I changed my mind upon reading the Hayes piece that contained details of exactly what Tressel did in the months between April and now.]

So I was pretty pissed yesterday. It was one of those moods that's obscure until suddenly it isn't, and the moment of clarity came when one of the Eleven Warriors guy pinged me on IM, suggesting that I must be happy today. I responded that I'd be happy if Ohio State's prospects for the near future had actually been affected… and there it was.

Jim Tressel was dishonest and his team benefited to the tune of a Big Ten co-championship and a BCS bowl victory; Ohio State's response to this was to suspend him for games against Akron and Equivalent. Ask Georgia fans who watched their team stumble to 1-3 start absent the services of AJ Green how that feels:

As a partisan, my immediate reaction to the complete bullshit which emanated from last night’s Ohio State presser was a question:  what was Jim Tressel’s first thought upon hearing the news that A. J. Green had been suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season?  “Suckers“?  “There but for the grace of God go I”?

I'm a partisan too but a couple months ago I went on the Bucknuts podcast and told them I though Tressel was a top five coach who had created a problem I never thought I'd have as a Michigan blogger: lack of material. I bought the Senator act wholly. My biggest complaint was that he was boring beyond belief.

I've now reverted to default partisan conspiracy-mongering and hatred. It's hard not to when the mea culpa press conference features Tressel lying his ass off about emails now in the public domain, forcing out stumbling answers that are such obvious crap that not even the state of Ohio thinks Tressel got what was coming to him:


Even the deepest red section of the country looked at OSU playing see-no-evil to a BCS bowl victory and said "uh-oh." In no way is OSU's response proportional to the crime. That's what pisses me off. Michigan eventually proposed penalties that were reasonable given precedence and were accepted essentially as-is by the NCAA. (The committee added a third year of probation, as they are wont to do.) Ohio State proposed functionally nothing for a far worse offense. Twelve coaches have violated the NCAA bylaw Tressel did in April, and eleven were fired.

What's more, they spent the press conference announcing their gentle wrist massage lying. Tressel invented a fiction about how he couldn't look into the matter because of "confidentiality" that absolutely would not prevent him from interviewing the accused or finding out whose frickin' names were on the pawned memorabilia and then suspending them for the proverbial violation of team rules. This would not have exposed anyone to lethal payback from ruthless drug dealers or whatever, not that anyone was actually in danger.

Ohio State's trying to pull a fast one, and the NCAA should hammer them. A show-cause for Tressel is just as viable as the one widely speculated to be heading down the pike at Bruce Pearl. Tressel's lies were repeated. OSU's official letter to the NCAA lays it out. As summarized by Matt Hayes:

• Tressel signed a document on Sept. 13, 2010 that said he was not aware of NCAA violations.

• He failed to tell school officials on or around Dec. 9, 2010 about emails he received in April explaining players’ involvement in selling memorabilia.

• He failed to tell school officials about the emails — or his knowledge of players selling memorabilia — when specifically asked on Dec. 16, 2010. He also misled school officials that day when stating he “did not recall from whom he received the tip,” and that he “did not know that any items had been seized.” …

Another significant — and potentially more damning — issue: In a Feb. 8, 2011 interview, Tressel admitted it was “inevitable” that players named in the email had committed NCAA violations and would be ruled ineligible. In other words, Tressel knew the players were ineligible and played them anyway.

Whether it's a lie of omission or commission it's a lie, and Tressel's had a much larger effect on his team than Pearl lying about whether or not Aaron Craft was at his house. It is impossible to believe he did not remember the repeated correspondence from this lawyer. He probably sent it up the chain, making this a department-wide decision, but we have no proof of that. We do have proof that Tressel had at least four opportunities to come clean, starting with the day he got the first credible email from that lawyer, and failed to take any of them. As a result Ohio State won a Big Ten title.

With serious benefits should come serious repercussions; Ohio State's incredibly weak self-sanctions are an insult to the NCAA. If the association doesn't want to make themselves a joke they will come down hard on OSU with a thorough investigation stretching back to 2001 with the potential for vacating multiple years and a show-cause penalty that should make it impossible for OSU to continue employing Tressel as their head coach. That's a punishment that fits a very serious crime in the eyes of the NCAA—eleven of twelve fired before the NCAA had a chance.

The NCAA should use this and the Pearl case as a warning.



March 10th, 2011 at 5:32 PM ^

Up until now, there really hasn't been anything like this.  None of the other cases of lying have had such obivous and blatant proof of the lie widely available to anyone and everyone to look it.  The evidence the NCAA has against Tressel is so rock solid, they can and should take their time to see what else they can dig up and tack on top of this.

It like landing the nuts on the flop in a game of texas hold 'em -- you know you're going to win the hand, there's no way you're NOT going to win the hand, so your only objective is to play the hand to extract as much money from the table as possible.


March 10th, 2011 at 6:14 PM ^

I've been convinced that Tressel was dirty as far back as the Clarett days.  I was amazed that the school passed that guy through without anything sticking. 

Since then, despite all the smoke surrounding OSU, we never found fire.  Then Tressell managed to deviously manipulate the Tat-5 situation so that not only did he get his bowl game, but he guarunteed their return for another season.  Despite hating Tressel deeply for coaching OSU, and beating us repeatedly, I actually began to admire, in a jealous sort of way, his ability to dodge bullets without even appearing to move. 

I am rooting for the NCAA to stick this to Tressel as hard as I root for us to beat OSU every November. 



March 10th, 2011 at 2:33 PM ^

Here's what worries me about "Fire Tressel".  I'm worried that OSU will present him as the pound of flesh, a quality coach will take over the program, and there will never be true consequences for his corruption. 

Remember how we fired Steve Fisher?  It didn't stop our basketball program from being hammered into oblivion.  Firing Tresel isn't enough.  The dirty program has to pay.  Loss of scholarships and a post season ban at least equivalent to what the Michigan basketball program got hit with.  The University has to be held accountable for the actions if its coach. 


March 10th, 2011 at 2:43 PM ^

Our punishment for Ed Martin wasn't really that bad - a one-year postseason ban and one lost scholarship per year for four seasons.  That was not what killed our program.  (The punishment was handed down in 2002, long after the program had collapsed.)  The hiring of Brian Ellerbe killed the program.  It was a jaw-droppingly stupid move (hiring a guy who had just failed at Loyola (Md.), who had no recruiting ties whatsoever) and it did us in.


March 10th, 2011 at 2:48 PM ^

You're right that isn't what killed the program, but it's still more than suspending a coach and vacating one season (which nobody gives a crap about).  How many victories and banners did we have to take down and how many big wins did we have to disown?  Our 2003 team might have made the NCAAs.  That post season ban hurt.  And that was without e-mails proving that our coach knew about it and covered it up.


March 10th, 2011 at 2:55 PM ^

Yeah, the punishment was painful.  But OSU basketball had to vacate its Final Four appearance in 1999 and was banned from the postseason in Matta's first year (or maybe it was his second year - I forget).  That obviously did not destroy them.  OSU basketball is a prime example of a program that handled the coaching transition a lot better.  We panicked and hired a guy who had no business getting the job.  They hired the best guy available.


March 10th, 2011 at 2:33 PM ^

will the backlash they recieved for allowing the tat5 to play in the sugar bowl get factored into this?

there seems to be plenty of egg to go around for the ncaa's face as well as tressel/tOSU

Zone Left

March 10th, 2011 at 2:51 PM ^

Zero chance he gets fired. He may "resign" as opposed to being fired, but zero chance of him technically being fired.

Personally, I think the NCAA rules about improper benefits and selling gold pants are bullshit. We all know that Buckeyes, Wolverines, Trojans, et al are functionally pro athletes. However, the big schools all agreed to these rules, and this is in some ways worse than the USC/Reggie Bush debacle. At least they weren't accused of actually knowing it was going on--just ignoring that something was highly likely to be going on (I think).

coastal blue

March 10th, 2011 at 3:12 PM ^

It's ridiculous that the university's athletic departments can sell game worn jersies of the players, but the players can't sell their own property. It may be in bad taste, but in no way should it be illegal.

However, as hypocritical, corrupt and biased as the NCAA is, they do make the rules. It's those rules that the OSU fans have cried about so many other teams breaking while thinking their program was above it all. This is karma coming back in the best way possible for a Michigan fan.

I personally hope OSU gets annhilated by the NCAA. It'd be nice to see their win column against Michigan take a few hits.

MI Expat NY

March 10th, 2011 at 3:57 PM ^

I agree that it's hypocritical that schools can sell game worn jerseys and signed items.  But, the rules for why players can't do the same, make sense.  If players were allowed to make money off of materials received for their participation in NCAA athletics, you would create a giant loophole for schools to squeeze extra benefits through.  Coaches would suddenly make recruiting pitches along the lines of: "We'll make sure that you get a new jersey for every game and you get to keep it.  We have very passionate "fans" that will assure you of $500 per jersey you decide to sell.  When we win a conference championship, you'll recieve a ring that will be worth $5,000 on the open market."  Clearly, such a recruiting pitch, would not be within the spirit of the NCAA's regulations on amateur athletics. 

Zone Left

March 10th, 2011 at 4:20 PM ^

The whole amateurism schtick is hypocritical. I can't look negatively on a player for taking money. If a corporate recruiter wanted to give me a hundred dollar handshake at 21, I would have accepted and told EVERYONE how awesome I was--and even the school's administration would have congratulated me on it. I fail to see the difference between that and an athlete from a moral perspective when the NCAA and its member schools profit off of the players' abilities.

Ethical violations by coaches, that I can get behind.

In other words, I'm sympathetic to Pryor and his compatriots, but Tressel can cram a log up his ass.

MI Expat NY

March 10th, 2011 at 5:44 PM ^

That's a different issue, though.  The rule makes sense in how it relates to the NCAA's sense of amateurism.  If you want to debate the merits of the NCAA's position, that's fine, and I might not even disagree with you.  But every real major violation essentially deals with paying players, and in that context the rule that the OSU players violated is a good rule.


March 10th, 2011 at 3:28 PM ^

isn't really the issue with Tressell.  While I agree that the ncaa's rules about what the players did is probably BS, Tressell essentially helped conceal violations of the above mentioned rules and then lied regarding his knowledge of the violations.

I don't think the ncaa's rules about coaches concealing knowledge of violations and then lying about them are BS.


March 10th, 2011 at 4:19 PM ^

I do share your skepticism, but as far as they are concerned, lying to the NCAA is possibly the worse thing you can do to them.   Doing so repeatedly is stabbing them in the eye with a hot poker.   Hopefully that BS of a press-conference with the non-apology and evasive reasoning is the icing on the cake.   If they let this go, losing less than 1/10th of your salary and can't coach against little sisters of the poor, you might as well as well de-fang the entire NCAA.


March 10th, 2011 at 2:39 PM ^

JT has gotten away with SO MUCH shit over his tenure at OSU that if the NCAA continues to turn a blind eye, they will lose even more credibility than they already have.  If even half of the alleged shit out there on JT and OSU's program is true, then OSU has gone on a 9 year period of B10 and somewhat National dominance as a direct result of cheating.  Yes, CHEATING.  That is what it is called when you break the rules. 

OSU has cheated by (1) fielding players who have received improper benefits, going back to at least Clarett, Troy Smith, etc., and (2) fielding players who the coach knows is ineligible because of violations reported to him directly. 

I hope that the NCAA takes a microscope to the OSU program and issues a punishment befitting of whatever violations it finds.


March 10th, 2011 at 4:22 PM ^

I do find it funny that a football coach is credited for the success of the basketball program. I thought maybe the basketball coach would get that credit or maybe the basketball TEAM.

Then again, I remember reading a ridiculous story about Harbaugh being credited for the success of Stanford's WOMEN'S basketball team so at least it's not that bad!


March 10th, 2011 at 2:54 PM ^

#1 being, the NCAA already investigated OSU three times between 02 and 05.  They aren't going reinvestigate what they already investigated. 

#2, The NCAA doesn't apply punishment to look powerful, they do it because they have evidence and can.  They do have evidence in this and will apply more punishment than currently is slated.  If they do so by launching their own investigation, whatever penalty is applied will be in the 2012 season at the earliest.  If they simply choose to include additional penalties, then it will be done and overwith and Tressel will live another day.

#3, other 11 coaches who commited the 10.1 infraction and found their way out the door, not all of them were fired, several resigned.  Take that FWIW. 


I call breaking the rules breaking the rules.  We will certainly take differing opinions on this but whatever. 

Everyone Murders

March 10th, 2011 at 2:47 PM ^

Looking at the ESPN opinion graphic, who are the 7% of the people that  came to the conclusion that a two-game suspension against Whozzat U and Wherezzat U was too harsh?  Can I have their numbers to sell them some Enron stock?

/picks up jaw from floor/