[and] failed to deport himself . . . (with) honesty and integrity.” Ouch! What does that last sentence mean? Tressel filled out a compliance form in September of 2010 which said that he had no knowledge of any NCAA violations
. This was not true. Simply put, he lied to the NCAA knowing full well that he was lying! Maybe he was trying to protect his players like a “good parent” thinks best but he was wrong and he knew it.
The Ohio State University issued a statement saying it had no comment until this investigation is over and the penalty has been assessed. OSU has put penalties on its own players and the coach, suspending them for five games in 2011. It is unlikely this will be adequate for the NCAA. There is one unforgiveable sin with the NCAA and real fans understand it: you lie to the NCAA and you’re history!
What makes this whole episode even more difficult is that Jim Tressel is a Christian brother. He recently authored a book titled The Winners Manual. One of his quotes includes the following: “I’ve seen the positives of setting a goal and pushing a team of players to achieve it, working together and striving for something as a team. But I’ve also seen the destructive force of that kind of ruthless search and what it can do to young people and the coaches who try to win at all costs.” (This quote comes from the first page of the book’s prologue. It grew popular Monday thanks to the Twitter account of Rand Getlin, a lawyer and sports consultant.)
Tressel, in the same new book adds: “The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour. Discipline is what you do when no one else is looking.” Discipline and responsibility serve as two of the Big Ten Fundamentals, the core tenets of Tressel's new book. The media has already jumped on these and other quotations.
Jim Tressel had full opportunity to deal with a bad situation in April of 2010. For whatever reason he did not act with good judgment and clear leadership. He knew then what he should do and then later lied to cover it up. The track record of coaches who are complicit in such matters is that 1 in 20 survive. If Jim Tressel is still the coach at OSU next year I will be surprised. How can a family believe in the honor and integrity of what a man promises them on a home visit related to recruiting their son when this news is now admitted to be true. Even Coach Tressel does not deny the charges. It was painful to see two eminent OSU former-players asked on ESPN on Tuesday if Tressel should remain as coach? They love him and did not want to answer but you could see they deeply feel he should simply resign. I agree. He must show moral courage and let the university go forward without him.
Here is the question for big time college fans like me. If this was my coach, Nick Saban at Alabama in this case, how would I respond? I would say, “He has to go, wins and championships or not. He is finished. No man is bigger than the school and its integrity.” The same goes for Jim Tressel. We shall see how honorable Ohio State really is in the coming months. Do they love beating Michigan and winning the Big Ten year-in and year-out more than having a coach who tells the truth when he has been required by the rules to do so?
What makes me sad is this – if you had asked me to name the five coaches with the best programs, and also were men who had real integrity, I would have listed Jim Tressel near the top until a few months ago. I knew his profession of faith and have had numerous people tell me that he was a solid, intensely faithful guy. (The same thing was said about Coach Mike DuBose who led Alabama to probation and rightly lost his job as their head coach, nearly destroying the program and taking it to the brink of the NCAA's "death penalty" probation phase.) It is time for the Buckeye Nation to stop defending their man. Their man is deeply tarnished and cannot remain a leader at this great university any longer.