Friends know that I am a huge college football fan. I am especially loyal to my own school, the University of Alabama. The Crimson Tide has had its own trials in the recent past with probation because of serious violations with boosters paying for players, etc. This sad legacy came on the heels of the head coaches moral failure (Mike DuBose). The coach’s lack of attention to his own program landed them in deep weeds. No excuses. Alabama got hammered and deserved it.
Nothing strikes a college fan with more dread than an NCAA investigation. It likely means penalties that will set back the football program for years. The ramifications for the school, the team and the fans are immense. But the NCAA shows no mercy in these instances. (Perhaps on another day I will share my view of the NCAA, which is not all that favorable either. )
Now the school under the investigative microscope is Ohio State University. I am not a Buckeye fan, nor am I an anti-Buckeye fan. I have respected their great tradition for many years, however. The sad exodus of Woody Hayes was a black-eye, at least in the way his career ended with an ugly on-field incident. But the program eventually recovered, after some leaner years under John Cooper. Now the Buckeyes have a highly successful winning program, the best in the Big Ten and one of the Top Five programs in the nation over the last decade, which included one national championship. And they’ve had a coach who is adored by the fans, even respected by his opponents and other fans like me. But that coach, Jim Tressel, has now really messed up big time. We will not know how and why he messed up so badly for some months but the likely result is that it will cost him his job coaching the game he loves at the university he clearly loves. Why?
Coach Jim Tressel, head coach at Ohio State for ten years now, hid information from his university for more than nine months, information that he was required to provide according to his contract and the rules of the NCAA. In the words of the NCAA statement released on Monday Tressel “permitted football student-athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics while ineligible . . .