Amist an NCAA rules violations investigation of Ohio State, Jim Tressel resigned as head coach after ten years. As John Feinstein reported:
There are so many issues connected to Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel’s “resignation” Monday that it is difficult to know where to begin.
Let’s start with this: Tressel resigned the way Richard Nixon resigned. Even with his hapless bosses, Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee and Athletic Director Gene Smith, trying to push back the growing wave of accusations, Tressel finally ran out of the nine lives given to a coach with a record of 106-22.
What happened Monday is pretty easy to figure out: Ohio State goes before the NCAA infractions committee Aug. 12. To enter that hearing with Tressel still in place as football coach would have sent the following message to the committee: “We’re Ohio State. This coach wins most of the time and beats Michigan all the time. We don’t care that his program was apparently out of control or that he engaged in a cover-up of clear NCAA rules violations. We have some tickets here for our opener next month. Would one of you like to dot the ‘i’?”
That probably wouldn’t play well in that room. That’s why Tressel had to go.
Even so, there are still myriad questions surrounding the Ohio State football program.
Coach Tressel offered Ohio State his resignation after six months of increased pressure as the NCAA investigation continued and former players began to admit wrongdoing. As AP explained :
In December, five Ohio State players — including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor — were found to have received cash and discounted tattoos from the owner of a local tattoo parlor who was the subject of a federal drug-trafficking case. All were permitted by the NCAA to play in the Buckeyes’ 31-26 victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, with their suspensions to begin with the first game of the 2011 season.
After the team returned from New Orleans, Ohio State officials began preparing an appeal of the players’ sanctions. It was then that investigators found that Tressel had learned in April 2010 about the players’ involvement with the parlor owner, Edward Rife.
A local attorney and former Ohio State walk-on player, Christopher Cicero, had sent Tressel emails detailing the improper benefits. Tressel and Cicero traded a dozen emails on the subject.
Tressel had signed an NCAA compliance form in September saying he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing by athletes. His contract, in addition to NCAA rules, specified that he had to tell his superiors or compliance department about any potential NCAA rules violations. Yet he did not tell anyone, except to forward emails to Ted Sarniak, reportedly a “mentor” for Pryor back in his hometown of Jeannette, Pa.
Ohio State’s fans have already begun speculating on a new head coach, even as assistant coach Luke Fickell was announced as head coach for the 2011 season. As AP reported:
No sooner had the ink dried on Jim Tressel’s resignation than speculation had already started about a successor as Ohio State’s coach.
It’s got to be Urban Meyer, right?
The Stoops brothers — Bob at Oklahoma and Mike at Arizona — are both Ohio natives. They’d love to have the job.
Then there are others with a Buckeye pedigree: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, who used to be a defensive back at Ohio State; or maybe former NFL coach Jon Gruden, also an Ohio native.
Let the carousel begin.
Someone joked that it would be perfect symmetry if Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee — the man who mocked the BCS hopes of Boise State and TCU — hired one of their coaches, either the Broncos’ Chris Petersen or the Horned Frogs’ Gary Patterson. Little Sisters of the Poor, indeed.
Tressel’s startling departure from Ohio State on Monday, propelled by an NCAA investigation for improper benefits and cars and tattoos, shocked many. But for some Buckeyes fans, finding a new coach eased the pain of lamenting the loss of the old one.
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