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Big 10 Bloggers: 5 Thoughts on Tressel's Woes
Pants on fire?
Pants on fire?
Posted Mar 28, 2011

CFN's Big 10 Bloggers give you five different perspectives on the current state of Tressel's troubles. What this means to the University, the Big 10 and OSU fans. Oh yeah, and some folks up in Michigan.

Aaron Calhoun: On what this means for Coach Tressel

Most likely next to nothing.

A slap on the wrist, certainly. Plus a moment in Time Out. But 9-1 buys you a lot of rope (See: wins over Michigan).

Tressel has been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season. This portion of the year begins with dates against Akron and Toledo; the Buckeyes’ scout team could win these. The non-conference schedule concludes with a trip to Miami (Fla.) and a visit from Colorado, so the Buckeyes should enter Big Ten play no worse than 3-1. More likely 4-0, even with Tressel and the Tat-Five serving penance.

Moreover, the conference schedule sets up favorably, with home games against Ohio State’s two biggest threats in the Leaders division (Wisconsin and Penn State) coming later in the season.

If Coach Tressel, upon returning, can lead the Buckeyes to victories in those two games, then a spot in the inaugural Big 10 Championship Game is all but assured, and any transgressions—true or false—will be forgiven by the Horseshoe faithful.

Eight conference championships (if OSU wins 2011) buy you a lot of rope.

Of course, there are some who believe Tressel’s time in Columbus is already over. That he won’t be coaching the Buckeyes going forward. Considering how seriously the NCAA takes violations of bylaw 10.1, there may be some merit to that belief.

However, if university President Gordon Gee and Athletic Director Gene Smith deemed concealing incriminating information about certain players to be grounds for termination, Tressel would already be looking for another job.

The press conference back on March 8th showed that Tressel’s bosses were aware of the scope of the situation and believed the proper actions had already been taken—and that was before an additional three games were tacked on to that suspension.

Unless an entire mob of NCAA torchbearers surrounds Ohio Stadium, which is highly unlikely, Jim Tressel is not getting fired (remember the rope). For better or worse, the top priority for college football programs—especially traditional powers like OSU—is winning, and that’s what Tressel has done since arriving in Columbus back in 2001. Perhaps more than any other coach who has ever been accused of unethical conduct. To recap:

- A 106-22 overall record
- Seven Big 10 Championships
- A staggering eight BCS bowl appearances
- 2002 BCS National Championship

And a decent little record against some school from Michigan.

With a resume like that, Coach Tressel might even be able to survive popping an opposing player in the neck. It’d be closer than you think.

Phil Harrison: On what’s next for OSU

History tells us that not many coaches come back from this type of major NCAA infraction. More often than not, the offending coach is dismissed to protect the university from harsher sanctions.

However, right off the bat Ohio State chose to hitch its wagons to the “sweater” defense, parading the University's president and athletic director to a love fest of a press conference - thus planting the flag firmly in the ground as to where this administration stood.

That was then – this is now.

So, where do “the suits” of The Ohio State University go from here? That will be answered by how much bigger this thing gets. To this point, Tressel has gotten an almost embarrassing amount of support from the administration (not to mention the die-hard fans). It can be refreshing to not see a knee jerk reaction, but some reaction would be nice.

The university has received a landslide of criticism from the national media for its handling of this situation since it first blew up before the Sugar Bowl. That was before the latest news of the now infamous email being forwarded to a 67 year old businessman and “friend” of Terrelle Pryor's.

If you bought into the argument that Tressel didn’t pass this information to his superiors because of a “concern for confidentiality”, good for you.

However, you now must ponder what Tressel was doing passing it to someone outside of the program without regard to that same highly regarded confidentiality.

For argument's sake, let's just say this is the end of the whole sordid tale (and oh how Buckeye fans wish it is). If that’s the case, then Ohio State can argue it stuck by its man, and maybe even got it right in the end.

In this scenario, at the very least OSU will take a hit to its reputation for being a bit vague and secretive. And the questions will linger about who is really running the show. But the players and Tressel will take their suspensions and life will get back into balance in Columbus, Ohio.

However, if the NCAA discovers that what we’ve learned so far is just the tip of an iceberg floating in the dangerous icy waters of a titanic football scandal, then things could get very interesting for every stakeholder. The university could face severe sanctions involving a loss of material things like scholarships, wins, titles, etc. Not to mention prestige.

Should that happen, one has to believe the fallout wouldn’t just stop at the players and coach, but could result in a house cleaning for the entire athletic program. Perhaps even further than that.

Will this latest news end up in a singed reputation, or will even more facts emerge that burn the very core of the athletic department? And just as importantly, will those in charge wait for the final straws before making a decision, or act before that?

Justin Albers: On what this means for the Big 10

On one hand, the Big 10 member schools like to emphasize academics and integrity when defining their conference, and the emerging scandal at tOSU is bad for that image. It’s not exactly "Legendary", at least not in the positive sense.

However, the more bad news that comes out about Jim Tressel and Ohio State, the better it is for the other teams in the Big Ten, at least in the short-term.

The Buckeyes have dominated the conference in football during the last five-or-so years. If anything, Tressel’s troubles level the playing field to some extent.

While Tressel, star quarterback Terrelle Pryor and others will only be suspended for the first five games of next season – meaning they will miss only one Big Ten game (Michigan State) – who knows how this will negatively impact Ohio State’s recruiting.

Will there be additional sanctions from the NCAA? Will Tressel eventually be forced to resign? And if so, what kind of new coach would they hire, and what schemes would he run?

Will this scare some top players away?

Bad for Ohio State. Good for the rest.

HD Handshoe: On what this means for Buckeye fans

One word—Division.

Tressel has always had his detractors because of his conservative coaching style and his failure to win several of the biggest games in which his teams have played. So a divide amongst fans and their support of the coach is nothing new—just now, the division and lack of support is even greater.

Before learning that Tressel knew about the Tat5 last April, his approval rating among Buckeye fans had to have been a solid 85 to 90 percent.

After learning that the coach did indeed have prior knowledge of what the Tat5 had been doing, his approval rating took a hit. A good guesstimate on his fan support at that point would likely have hovered around 75 percent.

The diehards still held firm to the ideal that Tressel represented integrity and honesty. However, many of the most loyal fans could no longer defend or support coach Tressel once the news broke that despite his earlier claim of not sharing the emails due to the Federal investigation, and the request for confidentiality, he had forwarded the emails to Terrelle Pryor's "mentor" in Pennsylvania, bot NOT to anyone at Ohio State.

So now, here we sit, with the fans closely divided on Tressel and his future at Ohio State (my guess is probably close to 50/50). His initial lack of reaction to the emails, and subsequent cover up of the truth about his knowledge of who/what/when, coupled with the fact that he did not notify A.D. Gene Smith or the OSU compliance department, have all forced Ohio State officials to reevaluate JT's job status.

While the Buckeye fan base is divided in its support for the coach—with some wanting him to be retained and others wanting him to be fired—the two common sentiments that seem to be coming universally from both sides are (i) if he is retained, a dark cloud will loom over the program for years to come, and (ii) if he is fired, it will be a sad ending to what was a great 10-year run in Columbus. At this point, neither will come as a shock to anyone.

Bart Doan: On how the good folks of Michigan are taking this

Enemies of the (Ohio) State, rejoice!

Before you raise Cain, don’t act like you’ve never felt this guilty pleasure before. Think back a bit. Your girlfriend leaves you for someone else. He has a nicer car. He has a better job. She’s “traded up” for the bigger, better deal, and gloats all around town. Then something magical happens. He dumps her.

Slap yourself into that scene, and you understand what it’s been like the last few years to be a fan of some Big 10 football team other than OSU; particularly Michigan fans. So pardon us all if the news of Tressel being 2011’s football version of Richard Nixon is met with ear to ear smiles and a few keggers. In the minds of many, Ohio State has earned it.

This is the best thing to come out of Ohio since Charles Woodson.

The Michigan faithful have long opined how the Buckeyes were dirtier than Heidi Fleiss crawling through the mud. Some called it "sour grapes." It looks a lot more like foreshadowing now.

What this means for Michigan depends on whom you speak to; some are more “passionate” than others. But no matter where the chips fall from here, all of this Tressel backdoor dealing means easier times ahead are essentially a fait accompli.

It will mean an easier time recruiting, since Michigan and Ohio State essentially go head-to-head for the Midwest’s top tier recruits. Lately, the Wolves have been getting bludgeoned. But nothing says “Well, maybe I’ll look somewhere else” like possible sanctions and a good old fashioned coach sacking. 18 year old high schoolers (and their parents) don’t quite care for instability when it comes to picking a university/football program.

There is little doubt that at least a few recruits will fall from OSU’s stranglehold over this. If Tressel is fired, Michigan winds up roses. But not much more so that Penn State and Notre Dame. Michigan knows first hand what kind of havoc changing coaches can wreak in a short period of time.

The amount of residual success Michigan will have from this Buckeye fallout will ultimately depend on how much punishment Ohio State takes, and whether or not Tressel hangs on – though even that has its short-term negatives. Regardless, we should have seen this coming.

Recent college football history has suggested that if you’re making an epic run of success, sanctions are probably right around the corner. Miami, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Southern Cal have all taken it on the chin from the NCAA in recent years, if you’re looking for a reference point. Bad times are on the come in Columbus. And those in the land of Michigan couldn’t be happier.

He who laughs last…

Please follow Justin Albers on Twitter @Justin_Albers, Aaron Calhoun @ACalhoun_CFN, HD Handshoe @blockonation and Phil Harrison @peharrison.

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