I don’t know what to make of this whole Jim Tressel situation down at Ohio State. It seems as if things are starting to get messy for the ‘ole ball coach. It’s pretty sad too, especially considering how he prides himself on having such a ‘clean-cut’ image. I’ve truthfully never trusted Jim Tressel. Sure, he’s a fantastic football coach but I think the guy’s hiding something underneath those red sweater vests he wears every Saturday in the fall. I first doubted his character back when Maurice Clarett was a beloved buckeye.
If you can recall, Clarett had some issues during his freshman season, which was also the same season he was breaking records on the football field. And while I could write an entire 7-part book collection on Maurice Clarett, I just want to bring up the time he wanted to go home for his friend’s funeral. It sticks out to me so vividly because I remember it was right before the 2003 Fiesta Bowl game against Miami. His childhood buddy was killed and Clarett wanted to pay his respects by flying home for the funeral. Everything had turned into a whole circus act when the Ohio State tailback asked the school for assistance with his travel. The NCAA offers a special assistance fund, which pays for emergencies based upon the athlete demonstrating need. In 2002, the Associated Press quoted former OSU Athletic Director Andy Geiger in saying, "We told Maurice that he could fly home ... if he could buy a ticket home and back we could reimburse him once the paperwork is filed. He elected not to do that, or couldn't afford that, or there wasn't anybody in his family who could do it. We were stuck in a place where the rule is we couldn't go forward and buy a ticket."
Understandably, Clarett was upset and he fired back by saying, “I guess football's more important than a person's life to them. That's why I'm ready to get this game over and go back home. ” What was Tressel’s response amongst all this drama, you ask? "The best thing for all involved is to say it didn't work out," he said. I know college football is a more like a business but where is your compassion? Tressel gives off the vibe that he doesn’t really care about these players on a personal level. I just thought he’d be more supportive of his star in his time of grief. The Buckeyes wound up winning the BCS championship two weeks later but as we all know, Clarrett’s life quickly spiraled out of control…
Now flash forward to the present where this past December the NCAA busted five OSU stars for receiving improper benefits. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor was one of the players who got caught and the NCAA handed down a five-game suspension to him and the four other stars. The Associated Press quoted Tressel back in December saying, "We all have a little sensor within us, 'Well, I'm not sure if I should be doing this,'" Tressel said. "And sometimes it gets overrided by what you think your necessity is.”
What was your necessity when you chose not come forward to school officials when you learned about their mistakes months before the story broke out, huh? It was pretty laughable when Tressel said he would sit out only two games next season. Still, many thought that the NCAA would hand down a heavier punishment to the coach. Though yesterday, Tressel announced his decision to sit out the first five games just like his “Tat Five” players are being forced to do. Tressel said the reason he decided to lengthen his punishment was "so that the players and I can handle this adversity together."
The only reason Tressel did that was to take some of the heat off of him. As someone who is supposed to be a role model and leader to these young men, he’s failed them. These young athletes made a costly mistake but they’re just kids; kids do stupid things. But Tressel is grown, he should have known better…He knew he was in the wrong when found out about the whole situation and chose NOT to inform the university about it. He had ample time to inform university officials, MONTHS before the story broke in the media. Though he did nothing…I still wouldn’t be surprised if the NCAA decides to hand down a heavier punishment to him. After all, head coaches are held to a higher standard than athletes are.
He sat next to his star players in news conferences as they admit their guilt and swallowed their pride in front of a national audience. Truthfully, I don’t know if coming forward to school officials earlier would have shortened these players’ suspensions at all, but now it looks as if Tressel’s running a shady operation down at OSU. His character is in question and the university is receiving unwanted attention, as a result.
This past summer, when talking about Maurice Clarett’s attempt to change his life around Tressel made the comment, “We all make mistakes and some are different mistakes than others and there are always consequences for whatever the mistake is,” he said. “And if you take care of that -- and usually the world is a forgiving world and gives you the opportunity -- if you do the right things ... [you can] move forward…”
Well, now that Tressel is the one who made the costly mistake, I hope for his sake he’s right.
Associated Press. "Missing Lifelong Friend's Funeral Angers Clarett." ESPN: The Worldwide Leader In Sports. 30 Dec. 2002. Web. 19 Mar. 2011.
Blackistone, Kevin. "Back in Football, Maurice Clarett Showing Burst in Wrong Direction." Top News & Analysis, US, World, Sports, Celebrity & Weird News. 08 Aug. 2010. Web. 19 Mar. 2011.
ESPN.com News Services. "Five Ohio State Buckeyes, including Terrelle Pryor, Must Sit out Five Games in '11 - ESPN." ESPN: The Worldwide Leader In Sports. 26 Dec. 2010. Web. 19 Mar. 2011.
Maisel, Ivan. "Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel's Suspension Really Isn't Equal to That of His Players - ESPN." ESPN: The Worldwide Leader In Sports. 18 Mar. 2011. Web. 19 Mar. 2011.