Posted on: May 18, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 1:06 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
There are plenty of people out there who don't feel as if Jim Tressel should keep his job at Ohio State following everything that we've learned about the Buckeyes in recent months, myself included. The thing is, no matter how strongly anybody feels about Tressel's job, there are only a couple people who actually have the ability to relieve him of his post. One of those people is Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, and it doesn't exactly sound like the thought of firing Tressel is something he's considered.
The Big Ten held its spring meeting on Tuesday in Chicago, and Smith was asked if he still supported his beleaguered head coach.
"Oh, definitely, no question," Smith told Adam Rittenberg. "I haven't changed, I haven't changed. But I'm not talking about the case beyond that."
Tressel also received support from fellow Big Ten head coaches Pat Fitzgerald and Mark Dantonio during the spring meetings, as well as the newest Big Ten athletic director Tom Osborne. In fact, Osborne found no shortage of words when it came to praising his old friend.
"I don't really know enough about [Ohio State's situation]," Osborne said. "I do know Jim Tressel, and I believe that Jim's an honorable person. There will be those who will criticize me for saying that, but I think I know Jim's character. What happened, I don't know a lot about the details. I certainly hope for his sake that things turn out OK, and for Ohio State."
It seems pretty obvious at this point that if things don't turn out all right for Jim Tressel, it won't be because Ohio State decided to punish him.
Posted on: May 18, 2011 9:01 am
Edited on: May 18, 2011 9:04 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany found himself in Seattle last August, standing beside Michigan as they faced the NCAA Committee on Infractions for violations under former head coach Rich Rodriguez. However, it is not hard to figure out that the pressure on the conference is much more substantial as Ohio State prepares for their meeting with the COI on Aug. 12 in Indianapolis. Delaney spoke to AnnArbor.com at the Big Ten spring meetings on Tuesday, only mentioning that the Ohio State scandal has generated "a lot of interest," and not the positive kind of interest.
“It’s a difficult set of facts and a difficult circumstance,” Delany said. “In due respect, I think the facts are known and we have a hearing date and we’ll go to a hearing and we’ll answer the questions and present the case and the NCAA will make a determination. And that’s the juncture at which time you’ll be able to absorb sort of exactly what it means in the short and the long term.
“Right now, to me, it’s just talking about something well in advance.”
That difficult set of facts and circumstances are ones that leave very little room for reasonable doubt when it comes to Jim Tressel's negligence in reporting potential violations. Tressel has been present at the Big Ten meetings, but has not spoken with the media since his arrival. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is also present at the meetings, but he too has steered clear of the media. Since the NCAA sent their notice of allegations in April, the future of Ohio State football has been murky, at best, for Tressel and Co. I think if you Buckeye fans for their opinion on the situation, their response will likely be very similar to Delany.
Posted on: May 14, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: May 14, 2011 2:03 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
But nothing indicates quitting is part of Tressel's thinking right now. And Gene Marsh, the former chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions who has been retained by Tressel in recent weeks, agreed with that sentiment in a brief interview with The Plain Dealer on Friday.
Which, in my opinion, is incredibly selfish of Tressel.
Posted on: May 12, 2011 4:11 pm
By Eye on College Football Bloggers
Each week, the Eye on CFB team convenes Voltron- style to answer a pressing question regarding the wild, wide world of college football. This week's topic:
We've already talked about No. 1, but the end of spring has also meant a revision of the rest of the preseason top 25, like our colleague Dennis Dodd's. What teams do you feel like might deserve a better ranking at this stage (or one at all)? What teams do you feel like might be ranked too highly?
Jerry Hinnen: There always seems to be one team from the SEC that comes from outside the preseason polls and surprises--think Mississippi State last year, Ole Miss in 2008, etc. But Dennis's 25 already includes every SEC team but Ole Miss, Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and I'm not sold on any of those teams as poll material. (There's a case to be made for the Vols, but only if Tyler Bray takes a major step forward, and his 5-for-30 spring game suggests that step may not be imminent.)
So I'll look elsewhere for a sleeper and mention how much I like San Diego State. The Aztecs have absorbed some heavy losses in their pair of NFL-bound wideouts and, of course, the head coach-offensive coordinator pairing of Brady Hoke and Al Borges. But Ronnie Hillman is an All-American running back waiting to happen, and senior Ryan Lindley is easily the best MWC quarterback this side of Kellen Moore. Together, they're one of the nation's best RB-QB combos, and new OC Andy Ludwig (the man behind Utah's undefeated 2008 attack) should know how to get the most out of them.
Defensively, the Aztecs should be much more comfortable in the second year of Rocky Long's unorthodox 3-3-5 scheme, and the schedule also offers the opportunity for two huge statement wins since TCU and Boise State travel to San Diego. Put it all together, and I don't think the departures of Hoke and Borges will be nearly enough to stop the program's momentum towards the polls.
Bryan Fischer: One team I think is a bit under the radar is Georgia. The Dawgs get the other division favorite, South Carolina, early in the schedule--that could be key if the Gamecocks are breaking in Connor Shaw, who has all of 33 passes to his name. I'm concerned about Georgia's running game but they have a good quarterback and the defense should be markedly improved in year two under Todd Grantham.
West Virginia is another team that can really make a move. They lose a lot from last year on defense but should be solid nevertheless. They might have one of the best offenses in the country with Geno Smith running the show and get their big non-conference game against LSU at home.
Chip Patterson: I agree with Bryan that West Virginia is a team that could cause some problems this fall. Dana Holgorsen might have done the coaching job of the year in 2010 with Oklahoma State's offense; the Cowboys did not return a single offensive lineman and his scheme resulted in the third-most productive offense in the nation anyway. Now he gets a stable full of athletes that, in many people's opinions, have been underperforming under Bill Stewart. Smith is the type of quarterback who can be a threat in Holgorsen's spread, especially once he gets familiar with the reads and changing plays at the line of scrimmage. The toughest challenge on the Mountaineers' slate is an early-season battle with LSU in Morgantown (as Bryan mentioned). I think that game is winnable, and could give them confidence headed into the back-loaded conference schedule.
Virginia Tech, though, is a huge question mark in my opinion. While I'm not sure whether they will end up higher or lower than 17, there's as much of a chance of them finishing the season unranked as getting to 10 wins. Their schedule does set up extremely well, with Clemson, Miami and North Carolina coming to Blacksburg and Florida State, Maryland and N.C. State avoided completely. But Logan Thomas needs to prove himself in a game situation, and running back David Wilson will have to work without Darren Evans or Ryan Williams to compliment him. Even if the Hokies finish the season strong, the eye test does not have them as "Top 20 good" just yet.
Adam Jacobi: After the first, oh, eight teams, I've got some major concerns about nearly every team on the list. Spring is the season for questions, of course, but it's like, "Michigan State at 11? Really? Wisconsin at 12? Really? Arkansas at 13? Really?" But you look at that list, and yeah, that's about right.
The one team that stands out to me is Notre Dame, who sort of creeps in under the radar at 19. I don't expect that sterling recruiting class to make much of an impact in Year 1, but there's a lot of talent coming back for Brian Kelly to build on. They have options at quarterback with Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees, the passing game basically only lost tight end Kyle Rudolph (who was injured for the second half of the season anyway), and four of five starting linemen return. The defense, meanwhile, is still led by Manti Te'o and returns its top eight tacklers. There's some retooling to do up the middle of the front seven, but the leadership and experience are there for the D to take a big step forward this year.
Lastly, I really like the Irish's schedule. The only truly worrisome game is the season finale at Stanford; the rest of the games are winnable. That's not to say the Irish are definitely going 11-1 in the regular season -- that's not happening without a ton of luck -- but it's a nice very-best-case scenario.
BF: I think the top 10 is pretty much standard for everyone. Sure, you can change the order and move teams around, but you can't argue with those 10 teams much.
After that, I have an issue with Auburn at 15. I know they're the defending champions, but they lost a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and the Tigers have a very tough schedule where they could take some losses. I'm also not sold on Utah after watching them collapse down the stretch last year, and they've had a ton of guys sit out this spring with injuries. I'd swap them in the rankings with USC -- who has depth issues but also has Matt Barkley and Robert Woods throwing the ball around -- or UCF.
AJ: Here's something I want to know -- what do you do about Ohio State if you're a voter? Do you ding them since the Buckeye Five are suspended for five games? Do you un-ding them when they come back? How many spots does Jim Tressel's situation cost them? What's the protocol here?
Tom Fornelli: I would have them lower on my rankings, personally. Losing some of your best players and your head coach for five games is a big deal, even if those games are against MACifices that shouldn't prove much of a test to the Buckeyes. Either way, those players and Tressel aren't there to start the season, so we should treat Ohio State as if they're not there. And do you see Ohio State being a top-25 team with Joe Bauserman?
JH: Disagree. I don't think there's a "protocol" on how to deal with the Buckeyes' current (unprecedented) situation as it relates to preseason polls; your guess is as good as mine is as good as anyone else's. But I don't think dropping them out of the top 25 all together is fair. Until we hear otherwise from the NCAA, the Buckeye Five and Tressel won't miss any more than the first (mostly winnable) five games. Dropping them entirely -- under the mere assumption Tressel, Pryor, et al are a dead team walking -- seems to put the cart before the horse.
TF: Seriously, though, I need somebody to explain to me why Arizona State is suddenly the cool team to vote for. Do people just really like their new uniforms? Is Vontaze Burfict sitting over their shoulders as they fill out their brackets? This is a team that won six games last year, with those six wins coming against Portland State, Northern Arizona, Washington, Washington State, UCLA and Arizona. Arizona is the only impressive win on that list, and it was a one-point victory in double overtime. This is a team that may have a lot of returning starters this year, but they're returning starters from a team that wasn't exactly a world-beater last season. Also, after losing quarterback Steven Threet to injury, the guy who has to lead that returning-starter-filled offense is still new.
JH: You didn't even mention their plague of torn ACLs this spring. I wish I could disagree -- the Sun Devils have had a ton of bad luck the last couple of seasons -- but they strike me, too, as a prime candidate to disappoint.
Tags: Al Borges, Andy Ludwig, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Bill Stewart, Boise State, Brady Hoke, Brian Kelly, Buckeye Five, Clemson, Connor Shaw, Dana Holgorsen, Darren Evans, David Wilson, Dayne Crist, Eye on CFB Roundtable, Florida State, Geno Smith, Georgia, Jim Tressel, Joe Bauserman, Kellen Moore, Kentucky, Kyle Rudolph, Logan Thomas, Manti Te'o, Maryland, Miami, Michigan State, Mississippi State, N.C. State, NCAA, North Carolina, Northern Arizona, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Portland State, Ronnie Hillman, Ryan Lindley, Ryan Williams, San Diego State, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Steven Threet, TCU, Tennessee, Todd Grantham, Tommy Rees, Tyler Bray, UCF, UCLA, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Vontaze Burfict, Washington, Washington State, Wisconsin
Posted on: May 11, 2011 3:54 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
POP QUIZ: Will Jim Tressel be coaching at Ohio State next year? He's still employed by OSU, and he's not suspended for the entire year, so odds are pretty good that he'll be back in Columbus at this rate, right?
Yes, "at this rate." Unfortunately for Tressel and Ohio State, the bad news may not be over just yet. Current broadcaster and former award-winning Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman told a crowd at a fundraiser yesterday that he thinks Tressel's gone -- and his prediction took an ominous tone shortly thereafter:
Graciously, CBSSports.com blogger Tom Fornelli has decided not to accuse Spielman of plagiarism. We kid, we kid.
Back to the point, this is the awful limbo that Ohio State finds itself in. There are still months to go until the school faces the NCAA Committee on Infractions, and if nothing else comes out, Tressel's five-game suspension just might hold as appropriate punishment for his (essentially singular) role in the coverup.
As the Ohio State car investigation shows, though, there's going to be no shortage of scrutiny of the dealings of the OSU program over those coming months, and there's also little reason for Spielman -- who's quite admirably still a Buckeye through and through -- to simply invent the idea that there's more bad news coming. Spielman works at the largest sports media company in the world and still, presumably, has plenty of contacts in and around the Ohio State athletic department and community. If he's worried about more bad news, the rest of Ohio State sure should be too.
What Spielman didn't do, however, was intimate any single detail about what new developments there may be, which means he's either sworn to off-the-record secrecy (possible) or all he's heard is nebulous and undeveloped enough that anything new might not be worth concern when all the facts come out (also possible). As the "where there's smoke there's fire" situation goes, though, Spielman's statements absolutely constitute smoke, and Ohio State should be bracing for even more bad news.
Posted on: May 10, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: May 10, 2011 12:07 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
As headlines at Ohio State go these days, one delivering news no worse than that a reserve linebacker already suspended for the entirety of 2011 has elected to transfer might be downright welcomed, just for being something less than catastrophic.
We'll hope so for those beleagured Buckeye fans' sake, since that headline has arrived. According to 247Sports affiliate Bucknuts, redshirt sophomore linebacker Dorian Bell -- after being suspended for the 2011 season for repeated violations of the same team rule -- will transfer closer to home at Pitt rather than wait to be reinstated in Columbus in 2012.
That choice ends a brief, disappointing Buckeye tenure for Bell, who arrived at OSU out of Monroeville (Pa.) as one of the nation's hottest linebacking recruits. But Bell was forced to take a surprising redshirt in 2009 and played in a limited role in 2010. He had been expected to challenge for one of the two vacant starting positions in the Buckeye linebacking corps this fall, but the suspension ended any chance of that and Bell decided to move on.
The good news for Ohio State is that Bell's decision does nothing to change their outlook for 2011 (though the initial suspension did deal a minor blow to their depth in the LB unit) and would seem to have only minor repercussions down the road ... unless Bell blows up at Pitt. Panther fans will hope that the change of scenery helps him reach his five-star potential--as they have similar hopes for other recent Pittsburgh-area-recruits-turned- transfers-home Cullen Christian (from Michigan) and Brandon Felder (from North Carolina).
And in the meantime, the Buckeyes will hope this is as bad as the news this week gets.
Posted on: May 7, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2011 1:06 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Over the last decade he's gone 106-22 with seven Big Ten titles and a national championship. Against Michigan, he's led his team to a 9-1 record, and has sent countless players from his school on to the NFL. All are wonderful accomplishments that make sure his name belongs beside the great Woody Hayes as one of the best football coaches in Ohio State history.
Unfortunately that name, Jim Tressel, will likely evoke some other images besides on field success years from now. Much like so many people remember Woody Hayes' name for the time he punched a player to put an end to his career, Jim Tressel's legacy could face the same kind of fate.
Now a lot of people will remember Tressel for his seeming lack of control or his flaunting the rules over the last year. First there were the revelations that Tressel's players had been selling and trading merchandise for discounts at a tattoo parlor, which was only made worse when we found out that Tressel knew about it months before Ohio State reported it to the NCAA.
That story, deservingly, put a huge target on Jim Tressel. It was a blatant and unacceptable skirting of the rules by the head coach. One, that if done by any other college football coach in the country without the accomplishments of Tressel, would have resulted in that coach being fired. But not at Ohio State where the school's president, E. Gordon Gee, was too busy making jokes about whether or not Tressel would fire him.
I don't think Gee or many others at Ohio State are still laughing.
Not with the story that broke on Saturday morning involving a couple of Columbus-area car dealerships, one salesman and a lot of Ohio State players and family members buying cars. Now, this isn't a situation that can be placed solely on the shoulders of Jim Tressel, but the entire compliance department of the Ohio State University. I mean, it's possible that the Committee on Infractions could find out that Ohio State players received discounts on numerous cars, and that Ohio State's compliance department approved of the purchases. That is the kind of thing that happens before the NCAA says those words that no school in this country ever wants to hear.
Lack of institutional control.
While it may not be fair to pin the blame for this latest Buckeye mishap squarely on Tressel's sweatervest, the fact is that right now, the best thing for Ohio State to do would be part ways with their head coach. He needs to go, and as I've already said, he already deserves to be fired for the way he handled "Tatgate."
There always has to be a fall guy. In sports, in business, in politics, in just about every walk of life. As the public face of Ohio State football, Tressel is that fall guy. This latest compliance disaster may not be his fault, but by firing Tressel, Ohio State could save itself some larger sanctions from the NCAA.
Make no mistake, there will be sanctions coming from the NCAA and the COI. If USC could be held responsible for Reggie Bush's car, then you have to think Ohio State will be as well. When the NCAA does get ready to come down on Ohio State, if it sees that Jim Tressel is still the head coach and has survived, it will look like Ohio State is sticking a certain finger in the air at the NCAA, the COI and college football in general.
From outside the NCAA perspective, the longer Tressel sticks in Columbus, the longer the media will continue digging into any other possible transgressions that may have taken place under Tressel's watch. As long as he is there, there will be media scrutiny, and as we've seen in recent months, the media has a tendency to be a better watchdog than the NCAA itself. And who knows what is left to be uncovered? Considering we first began hearing about questionable behavior at Ohio State under Tressel with Maurice Clarett in 2003, you'd be naive to think that these cars and those free tattoos were the only times that Buckeye football players possibly broke NCAA rules over the last eight years.
There are a lot of dark clouds over Columbus right now, and they won't be going anywhere for a while. Still, the sun is going to break through at some point, and the sooner Ohio State says goodbye to Jim Tressel, the sooner the sun will reappear.
Posted on: May 7, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2011 12:34 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
It's easy to see a headline about Ohio State investigating car deals for its players and automatically assume the worst. Now that the NCAA is already preparing to bring OSU before the dreaded Committee on Infractions for the tattoo scandal and coverup, it's easier to figure that an investigation's going to uncover more bad news.
It's not that simple, though. While this investigation might not uncover any wrongdoing by the embattled Ohio State athletic department or its players, it also might place the very legitimacy of the compliance department at stake.
As the Columbus Dispatch reported today, Ohio State's chief enforcer of NCAA rules is opening an investigation into dozens of car purchases by players and their relatives from two Columbus-area dealerships (both of whom employed salesman Aaron Kniffin), looking for any evidence of special discounts or other impermissible benefits. While it seems like that's a good thing to investigate, seeing the potential for impropriety in large-value transactions, the real issue here is that according to the dealers and salesman under investigation, the deals were already reviewed the first time around by OSU associate athletic director Doug Archie and his compliance department:
Now, this would seem to be little more than a discussion about procedure if it weren't for the fact that according to public records, OSU lineman Thaddeus Gibson "bought" a two-year-old Chrysler for $0 from Kniffin. Gibson and Kniffin both deny that the price listed on the title was the actual sale price, but $0 seems to be what they're telling the government. That's a discrepancy for which the IRS, NCAA, and OSU compliance department are all going to need a lot of explanation.
The Dispatch also found multiple car loans to Terrelle Pryor, including Kniffin's own for a trip back to Pennsylvania for three days. Indeed, four of the six players suspended in the tattoo scandal also purchased cars from Kniffin. Perhaps that's just mere coincidence, and perhaps all four car sales were legitimate and above board. It's undeniable that there's cause for concern, however.
Worse, perhaps there are more questionable transactions yet to be found in the investigation. Perhaps there's not. Only time will tell there, obviously. The fact remains, though, that Ohio State needs to make it clear just how much oversight they were providing with regards to players and their families buying these cars, and how impermissible purchases -- if any -- were allowed to proceed.
There's a very, very bad worst-case scenario here for Ohio State. It's got a lot of ifs, so it's not terribly likely, but it's not out of the realm of plausibility. IF there were special discounts being given out, and IF the compliance department was reviewing sales documents, and IF that office was also directing players to those dealerships, THEN Ohio State would basically have been running a sham of a compliance department. That's a lack of institutional control nonpareil. Again, that's a worst-case scenario, and one that OSU's director of compliance has already denied, but these are the stakes at play here.
That, in fact, is what makes this potential scandal so pernicious: it has little, if anything, to do with Jim Tressel and the previous scandal. Indeed, what was most striking about the allegations levied against Tressel was that they didn't implicate OSU as a whole, leaving open the possibility that OSU could paint Tressel as a rogue coach operating in flagrant defiance of his contract, fire him, and wash their hands of the matter. But here, the possibility exists that players were getting the green light from the compliance department to break compliance rules. That's something that simply firing Tressel isn't going to sweep under the rug.
Again, that's just the worst-case scenario. Ohio State fans had better hope it doesn't come true.