Posted on: February 20, 2012 1:25 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
In an interview with the Ohio State student newspaper, The Lantern, school president Gordon Gee took exception to the bowl ban Ohio State received from the NCAA following "Tattoogate." Gee said that the NCAA was essentially out to get Ohio State because it's Ohio State, and that there had been no precedent for such a decision.
"First of all, the NCAA — if we would have given up five bowl games, they would have imposed the sixth on us because they were going to impose a bowl ban," Gee told the paper. "This was Ohio State. This was (the NCAA's) moment in time, and they were going to impose a bowl ban no matter what we did.
"I'm a lawyer. I take a look at precedent. There's no precedent for a bowl ban for us."
I feel like this is where I should point out that never in the history of college football has a university president been fired by a football coach, yet Gee was still worried that it would happen to him, right?
Now, Gee may be right that there is no precedent for the NCAA's decision in this case, but that doesn't mean what the NCAA did is wrong either. Maybe the NCAA did want to send a message to the rest of college football saying "if we'll do this to Ohio State, we'll do this to you too."
Or maybe the NCAA just saw a case in which Ohio State played a bowl game using players that should not have been eligible after Jim Tressel failed to report anything about what he knew for so long, and decided it's only fair to take a bowl game away from Ohio State in return.
The fact is whether you agree with the decision or not -- and I'm guessing Ohio State fans reading this don't, and everyone else does -- there's nothing that can be done about it now. You just accept the punishment and move on.
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Posted on: February 7, 2012 1:53 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
From calling mid-majors the "Little Sisters of the Poor" to asking Jim Tressel not to fire him, Ohio State president Gordon Gee has not exactly been one to keep his mouth out of the headlines over the past 12 months. And he may not be for the next 12 months, either, judging by this interview with OSU student newspaper The Lantern, in which he tells Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema to "get a life."
Bielema infamously accused new Buckeye head coach Urban Meyer of using "illegal" recruiting "tactics" and asked Badger athletic director Barry Alvarez to voice his complaints to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany on his behalf. Gee emphatically stood up for Meyer in the Lantern interview, calling him the "finest in the country" and "the greatest affirmation of the quality of this institution."
When asked directly about Bielema's comments, Gee was every bit as emphatic.
"We hired the best coach and we went out and got the best kids so get a life," Gee said.
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Posted on: October 5, 2011 1:35 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Ohio State president Gordon Gee addressed his beleagured athletic department in a statement this morning, and while his interpretation of the words he used isn't necessarily incorrect, it's certainly tone-deaf.
“We are the poster child for compliance," Gee said, "and whenever we discover a possible infraction, we resolve and report it to the NCAA, no matter how minor the violation. That’s what we have done here."
Now, the popular sentiment among writers thus far has been to remind Gee that "denial isn't just a river in Egypt," but I'd amend that slightly to "compliance isn't just a department in your office." It's one thing if Ohio State quickly and dutifully reports all the potential violations it hears about to the NCAA (though are we just going to pretend the Jim Tressel era never happened? Really? This soon?). That's what a compliance department ought to do.
If you want your athletic department to be the poster child for compliance, though, the correct way to go about that is to stop committing such an unholy amount of violations in the first place. That's what real compliance is, and on that front, Ohio State has failed miserably -- espectially relative to just about every other school in Division I. Where that systemic unusual frequency of individual failure comes from can be debated endlessly, but the point is that it's there, and as long as Ohio State keeps pretending there's no big problem the violations are going to keep happening.
My solution? An Ohio-wide media campaign called "STOP PAYING OUR PLAYERS IT DOESN'T END WELL FOR ANYBODY." Use Maurice Clarett and Terrelle Pryor in TV commercials to talk about how accepting improper benefits torpedoed their college careers right when they were getting good. But don't just go up there and tell people OSU's doing everything right. C'mon.
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Posted on: July 8, 2011 4:09 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 4:19 pm
By Jerry Hinnen and Tom Fornelli
Jerry Hinnen and Tom Fornelli of the Eye On College Football blog discuss Ohio State's decision to vacate wins from the 2010 season and the bus it has decided to drive over Jim Tressel.
Jerry Hinnen: The first question that comes to mind reading the Ohio State response to the NCAA is this, Tom: what part is most laughable? I feel like we've got so many options here.
Tom Fornelli: Where to begin? There's a lot to mock here.
If anything, I'll just start with the entire concept of vacating wins in the first place. What does that even mean when you really get down to it? The Buckeyes no longer beat Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl? Well, Arkansas didn't beat Ohio State either. So did the Sugar Bowl just not happen, because I remember watching it. I mean, if you're going to vacate wins, it should just be a symbolic move to make along with other self-imposed sanctions you're making. It should not be the only punishment you're imposing on yourself.
Yeah, according to Ohio State's history books, that win over Arkansas never happened, but are they returning the money they got from the BCS for playing in the game? Nope. I mean, this is like if I were to rob a series of banks, and then one day the police caught me. Then, when they showed up at my door, I just screamed "I'm vacating the robberies! They never happened! Wipe them from the books! Oh, but I'm not giving the money back to the banks I no longer robbed."
It's a joke.
JH: It is, and it would be a funny one if one of the nation's largest universities and most respected football program's integrity weren't at stake. But for my money, the most jaw-dropping aspect is the school's treatment of Jim Tressel.
On the one hand, the response calls Tressel's actions "embarrassing" and claims he acted alone without any other Buckeye administration member aware of his decisions. Clearly, after the coddling Tressel received from Gordon Gee and Gene Smith in previous press conferences, the school is trying to distance itself from its former coach. He's smeared the institution's good name. He's a pariah. They've forced him to resign (after the part where he'd done it voluntarily).
Or, as it turns out, they've allowed him to retire with benefits, waived a $250,000 fine they'd previously sworn to collect, and paid him an extra $50,000 on top of that. OSU hates Tressel and everything he stands for ... except for the part where they've rewarded him for his loyalty with hundreds of thousands of dollars and a retirement in the school's good graces.
If you're the NCAA, where do you begin to make sense of this? Is there any way to interpret these kinds of actions other than a desperate hope the NCAA will pay attention only to what the response is saying, rather than what the program is actually doing?
TF: As far as the treatment of Tressel is concerned, if I'm the NCAA I'm not buying a single word of it. That is, unless they want to turn a blind eye to reality. How is anybody really supposed to believe that Tressel was doing any of this on his own after the way Ohio State has treated the entire situation?
I don't think paying the guy who you're blaming for everything is the move you make unless you really want him to go along with that stance. Let's be honest, Tressel is the fall guy here and now Gene Smith and Gordon Gee are doing everything they can to save their own behinds. If you think about it, though, no matter how this went down, is Gene Smith somebody who should survive all this?
He either knew about everything and is pretending he didn't -- he's vacating his memory -- or he really knew nothing! How can you argue that you should keep your job as an athletic director of a school when something of this scope is taking place under your very nose without you having a clue?
Ohio State just really doesn't seem to get it, or they're in a deep state of denial. The NCAA isn't going to see that the school has vacated it's wins from last season and move on. There will be scholarships lost, and there will be a postseason bowl ban for a year or two. It's not fair to the players on the team or whichever coach eventually takes over for Tressel, but unfortunately for Ohio State, the NCAA knows that you can't just erase the past and fix things.
JH: We're assuming they do. Since we're discussing the NCAA's Committee on Infractions here, there's no way to know exactly what they're going to do until they do it. Precedents mean nothing and logic is frequently tossed aside like so many babies in so much bathwater.
But if the COI ever wants to be taken seriously, rubber-stamping OSU's self-imposed "punishment" and giving the Buckeyes a pat on the head just can't be an option. Without subpoena power, the only thing standing between the NCAA and utter investigative helplessness is honesty and cooperation from those involved. What it got instead from from OSU was Tressel lying through his teeth with Gee and Smith nodding genially at his side. The NCAA tried to be lenient with the Buckeyes once already--and was repaid with a sham of a Sugar Bowl and a carton's worth of egg on its face for its troubles.
And now OSU wants to pin the entire thing on the coach it enabled at every step (up to and including the pillow-laden step right out the door), expecting the NCAA to look at its meaningless dabbles in the history books and declare "OK, we're cool." Judging from the sledgehammer dropped on USC, I'll be beyond stunned if the NCAA is feeling very cool at all.
TF: Agreed. Any predictions on what the NCAA adds if anything? Personally I'm thinking around 10 scholarships and a two-year postseason ban.
JH: Sounds about right--plus a show-cause order for Tressel. His college football coaching career is over.
Posted on: June 22, 2011 1:17 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 3:00 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
"I made the unfortunate comments about the fact that I compared some other football teams to the Little Sisters of the Poor," Gee said on Tuesday.
No, sister, work him harder than that. I want Gee on his hands and knees scrubbing those floors. I want to see my reflection! Then, when he's done, take the ruler to his knuckles.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 12:22 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Resigning as head coach at Ohio State doesn't mean Jim Tressel will escape the fine the school gave him.
On Thursday Ohio State president Gordon Gee let the world know that Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor weren't the only people who had left the school in recent weeks, saying that the NCAA investigators who were around left Columbus a week ago. Of course, just because the investigators have left, that doesn't mean the investigation is over. As for Jim Tressel, just because he's no longer the head coach of Ohio State, that doesn't men he's allowed to stop paying for his mistakes.
While Tressel is no longer required to meet with the NCAA Committee on Infractions on August 12th, if he hopes to coach again on the college level, it's a move he should make. Still, that's a choice he's allowed to make. A choice he doesn't have, according to Gee, is whether or not he'll pay the $250,000 fine the school originally gave him -- along with the five-game suspension -- in an effort to ease any future punishment from the NCAA. Gee said on Thursday that Tressel will pay the fine, and the school said the details of the payment are still being worked out.
Which is a pretty big dent in Tressel's wallet, especially now that he won't have the regular income as Ohio State's head coach. So even though he won't have to deal with any penalties likely coming Ohio State's way in the future, Tressel will still feel hit in his bank account.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 9:49 am
Edited on: June 13, 2011 1:55 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
First Terrelle Pryor's lawyer threatened a lawsuit during an outraged radio interview, and now the photographer brought into question for paying Pryor for signed memorabilia has issued a denial of his own. Columbus photographer Dennis Talbott denied ever giving money to Pryor when speaking to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer on Thursday.
"They are potentially destroying people's lives," Talbott said in a phone interview. "It's not true. I haven't given him a dollar. I haven't given him anything perceived as an improper benefit."
In the damning anonymous interview on ESPN's Outside the Lines, a former friend of Pryor suggested that as many as 35 to 40 payments were made by Talbott for memorabilia, with the total earned ranging anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000. The website Sports By Brooks ran their own investigation on Talbott, collecting a series of photos and screen shots which suggest Talbott has not only been using an eBay name, "infickelwetrust," to sell autographed and game-used items from Ohio State football players, but also has been operating a side business - Varsity O Memorabilia, to sell signed memorabilia. Photos from Varsity O's Facebook page show items being signed/signed by A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Beanie Wells, Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Maurice Wells, Mike D'Andrea, Troy Smith, Quinn Pitcock, and former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel.
Talbott tried to tell the Plain-Dealer that he doesn't "have the wherewithal" to shell out the kind of money reported in the Outside the Lines piece. If Talbott, 40, has been running this multiple organization operation he should surely have the cash to arrange these payments. As far as the "infickelwetrust" eBay account, by Wednesday night the account had been deleted and all of the items had been removed.
Another case of he said-she said in Columbus, as the scandal slowly unravels and reveals a community - not just a coach - embracing ignorance in order to experience immediate success and gratification.
Posted on: June 9, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:41 am
It's fitting that Jim Tressel's nickname was The Senator. In Columbus and around the rest of the nation, that nickname was used as unironic praise, a testament to the Ohio State coach's maturity, open faith, and businesslike approach to running his football program. The name stuck because it fit. It also stuck because people conveniently forgot that Congress is and always has been one of the most reviled institutions in American history, one whose abysmal approval ratings are fueled by an institutional history of corruption, hypocrisy, and mistruths. Oh, Jim Tressel is a senator, all right. People just didn't really know it.
Back in 2010, Senator Tressel made the grave error of placing his players, his program, and himself above the law of the NCAA, and that's why we're here today (here's the full timeline). He found out that QB Terrelle Pryor and several teammates had been receiving impermissible benefits back in April, and hid the evidence from his athletic department. Astonishingly, there isn't a guarantee that the compliance department would have punished Pryor or would have withheld him from the 2010 season; after all, the department ordered memorabilia dealer (and purported Pryor payer) Dennis Talbott away from the program during the season, but Pryor was allowed to remain eligibile.
So now, not only is Tressel out of a job and likely facing a mammoth punishment from the NCAA -- not an ideal situation for a newly unemployed, 58-year-old coach to find himself in, to say the least -- but Pryor is gone from the program now as well, right on the heels of a major NCAA investigation into his relationship with several prominent Columbus figures, and there's even been some speculation that AD Gene Smith's job is on the line too, along with president Gordon Gee.
There's also a distinct possibility that the NCAA forces Ohio State to vacate some or all of the 2010 season's victories. Tressel knowingly used several players who, under NCAA statutes, were ineligible to play. And if the NCAA does indeed come down hard and takes away the 31-26 Sugar Bowl victory -- the bowl for which the "Buckeye Five" had controversially been allowed special eligibility -- oh, how the cackles of glee will ring forth from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and throughout the rest of the Southeast. The one thing OSU had been able to hang its hat on from the 2010 season that it never could before is that elusive bowl win over the SEC. It's one thing for Arkansas fans to claim that the Buckeyes only got that win by cheating, after all; it's another for the NCAA to agree with them.
Still, it's worth reiterating that since the NCAA investigation is ongoing, it's impossible to know precisely how the story ends just yet. With Tressel and Pryor both gone from Columbus and thus no longer obligated to comply with the NCAA investigation -- though if Tressel ever wants to coach in the NCAA again, complying would be a wise idea -- the NCAA doesn't have as much to work with. That's not to say OSU's going to get off easy, though, since the NCAA probably has enough to justify significant penalties. How bad we're talking here remains to be seen.
As far as on the field goes, 2011 might be a little rough. Luke Fickell is the interim coach for now, and while there's probably a reason why Jim Tressel had named the 37-year-old his assistant head coach back in March, there's virtually no chance that Fickell has the gameday coaching chops, players' respect, or recruiting skill that Tressel had. No first-year head coaches do, for that matter. Fickell's going to have to make sure all hell doesn't break loose on that roster, keep as many recruits in the fold as possible, and also try to keep the team motivated for 2011 even if Ohio State receives some sort of postseason ban (an apt possible punishment, considering the strings pulled to keep Pryor and everyone else eligible for the game).
Meanwhile, under center, the loss of Terrelle Pryor could be disastrous. The long-running joke in Columbus was that the depth chart had been "Pryor and Prayer," and now Buckeye fans will have to prostrate themselves in front of the football gods in search of mercy. Left on the depth chart are four quarterbacks whose benefits scarcely outweigh their drawbacks at this point, and it's unlikely that any of them will be given a long leash in 2011 until a clear No. 1 QB emerges. Braxton Miller has the highest upside, but the kid is 18. Joe Bauserman was the backup last season, but he might not actually be any good -- and he's already 26. Neither Kenny Guiton nor Taylor Graham seems ready to start yet. Yes, this motley crew was going to have to take care of the offense for the first five games no matter what after Pryor was initially suspended by the team, but now there's no cavalry coming -- and Big Ten defensive coordinators know it.
The biggest consequence of Ohio State's fall from glory, though, might have nothing to do with Ohio State itself. Now, every compliance department is under increased scrutiny, whether from outside media sources or from within the program. There's no shortage of secretly terrified athletic directors who look at what's happening in Columbus and now have to double-check that their own athletic departments are actually on the up-and-up or if there's the possibility of serious malfeasance. Colt McCoy's wife gave the city of Austin a collective minor heart attack when she went on the radio and described the uphill battle Texas' compliance office faces, but she stopped short of actually saying any violations had ever occurred. Is that because none had occurred, or she just knew better than to publicly admit anything? That's the type of million-dollar question every major football program faces now, thanks to Tressel and Ohio State.
And yet, regardless of what happens from here on out, the fall of Ohio State is still going to be an endless topic of debate in the 2011 season -- just as it has been already. Everyone's got an opinion on Tressel, and everyone's going to have an opinion on what the NCAA ends up doing to the Buckeyes. Once football season rolls around, all it'll take is one "how about this Ohio State situation" from a play-by-play announcer, and all of a sudden the guys in the booth have something to talk about for the rest of the fourth quarter of some inconsequential September blowout. Most of the opinions aren't exactly going to be positive, though Tressel will probably remain something of a sympathetic figure among the talking heads. He is not a crook, they will say, and they will be correct. Tressel is not a crook. He is a senator, and one whose senatorial hubris brought down his entire football program. Other powerhouses should take heed.