As much as Jim Tressel tried, utopia does not exist. Tressel tried to package and sell utopia and everyone wanted to purchase it. Everyone wanted to believe a good man could win with good players who didn’t bend and break NCAA rules, who didn’t smoke pot or make the $500 handshakes after games.
What we’ve learned the last six months is Ohio State is not different than most other Top 25 programs. Buckeye fans can take their heads out of the sand now.
Major college football is never clean. Utopia is a figment of our imagination. It doesn’t survive nor thrive in an industry where universities stand on the shoulders of young men to make billions every year, where universities sell their jerseys and $30 parking spots on sold-out gamedays and tell the children to like it because their education is free.
College football is great business for places like Ohio State. What does the education of a college football player actually cost the school, save for books? The rooms and food are already paid for by the 50,000 other students. Ohio State is bartering a service that cost it virtually nothing and gaining hundreds of millions every year.
Fans and boosters alike will look at Ohio State’s mess with rubber necks and an aghast mouths because it’s easier to feign shock than see truth.
Fitting it was Memorial Day Tressel chose to be the good soldier. He fell on his sword, the sullen general walking away to save the entity, or what’s left of it. Tressel is not the angel fans wanted him to be. Surely, he’s not the monster he’s being made to be now. He is all too human.
Who’s guilty for the fall of Tressel and Ohio State?
If Ohio State President Gordon Gee could sell a loge in his Ivory Tower, we’d all purchase in as well.
Why is it a college football crime for a player to sell something he owns for tattoos or money, and when Ohio State announced the NCAA findings on its website, there was an advertisement for fans to bid on game-worn jerseys? Why did the NCAA grant the suspended players to participate in the Sugar Bowl after executives lobbied for it?
I’m no tattoo aficionado, but last summer when I saw the intricate “block O” tattoo on quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s arm, I wondered how a college kid with nothing more than pocket lint in his wallet could afford it. Every week when Tressel would hold his weekly press luncheon and I would drive past the players’ parking lot at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, I wondered how some players afforded vehicles worth at least twice the cost of mine.
Surely, Tressel saw clues as well. There is a mentality among coaches and athletic administrators — yes, you Gene Smith — that exists at places like Ohio State where the less is known, the better. In other words, Tressel had to see clues, but in this business clues are allegations and until someone brings tangible proof, Tressel isn’t bound by anything — morals or NCAA rules — to investigate. As a matter of fact, Ohio State has a team of compliance employees whose job it is to make sure players are in compliance with NCAA rules. Allegations are their field.
That department failed Ohio State. Gene Smith failed Ohio State. Jim Tressel failed Ohio State.
Most of all, every player who looked for a hand out instead of a hand up over Tressel’s 10 years failed Ohio State. Players know the rules. Players break the rules.
Major college football isn’t about rules. It’s about finding the shades of gray that exist in them and trying to breathe.
Early on in Tressel’s OSU career, I wondered if he was as saintly as his neat sweater vests and American flag lapel pins would suggest.
A person with direct knowledge of Tressel’s ethics once told me he is a good man, but he’s still the head football coach at Ohio State and he’s only as clean as that allows. Even if the Dalai Lama were to be OSU’s next head coach, he’d have to find the gray areas to live in.
Fans wonder why Ohio State recruits players who break the rules. Think back to when Terrelle Pryor became a Buckeye.
He could have become anyone’s problem child because, like it or not, we live in a world where the rules aren’t the same for everyone. Does the overweight woman in the seat next to you on the plane get the same courtesy as the hot blonde taking up the same amount of space because her Coach purse has the living room furniture stuffed in it? I didn’t think so.
Pryor could have been anything he wanted.
A Sooner. A Nittany Lion. A Wolverine. The Crimson Tide. A Badger. A Trojan.
Everyone wanted him. Everyone recruited him. Everyone knew there were hints of character problems.
Every college football coach in the country was willing to look as far away from the baggage in his Coach purse because Pryor is built like a tank and runs like a sports car.
Ohio State and every major college football program in the country recruits players in the same situation as Pryor: poor kid who believes his only hope to a better life his athletic ability. We feed that lie as well. We want players to purchase into that fallacy. We need players to purchase into that fallacy.
Players like Pryor sell jerseys, and tickets, and beer, and parking, and TV contracts. They sell it every Saturday.
Then on Monday, the world is right… after we put our heads back in the sand believing we have utopia.Details :
Submited at Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 at 1:01 pm on Uncategorized by robert
Comment RSS 2.0 - leave a comment - trackback