OSU’s Nightmare May Just Be Beginning

Today is a day for mixed emotions. On Memorial Day when our thoughts should be with those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to make this country so great, instead those of us who reside in the Buckeye Nation must struggle with our emotions as Ohio State announces it has accepted the resignation of Jim Tressel.

Unlike many in my profession, I wish it had never come to this and I will remain unconvinced Tressel had to go. Already this morning, the great philosopher Brent Musberger has opined that Tressel’s resignation will not mitigate pending NCAA sanctions against the OSU program. Musberger believes the NCAA will hit the Buckeyes with similar penalties as the ones handed down to USC that include vacated seasons, reduction of scholarships and a postseason ban.

Based upon the outside chance that Musberger isn’t conjuring his opinion out of thin air, why did the Ohio State Board of Trustees feel the need to pressure university president Dr. E. Gordon Gee and athletic director Gene Smith for Tressel’s resignation? And why did Gee and Smith accept it?

It seems to me that Tressel was the only one ready to go to battle. Why else would he have hired an attorney with vast knowledge of the innerworkings of the NCAA Committee of Infractions? I have always believed that with any kind of support – and I mean real support and not the vacuous kind he seemed to be receiving – Tressel could have weathered the storm. An expanded suspension and additional fine could have been in the offing, but he could have remained the coach. Instead, those at Ohio State who made the ultimate decision couldn’t stand the heat. Bowing to a crush of recent stories – none of which contained new information – the trustees and administration have taken the easy way out by caving and casting aside one of the most successful coaches in program history.

We can debate forever the merits of Tressel’s decision to withhold information after he learned his players were involved in improper activities. What is not up for debate is that this is one of the darkest days in Ohio State football history.

Those of you taking sanctimonious victory laps today have gotten your wish. When your euphoria wears off, I wonder how long it will take you to realize just how far back Tressel’s exit just set the Ohio State program. Then again, maybe you got bored beating Michigan every year, stringing together a record number of the Big Ten championships and playing in meaningful bowl games.

Some may believe Tressel’s resignation will begin to bring this whole sordid mess to a close. Speaking strictly for myself, I think it’s the beginning of a nightmare.

Tressel made a mistake and there is no denying that. But he did not pay his players, he did not commit recruiting violations and he did not run a rouge program. The majority of his players graduated on time, his program’s academic standing was exemplary and his production on the field was superlative. Add to those successes the untold number of charitable donations of both money and time that Tressel made over the past decade and you have one of the giants of his profession.

And still his superiors could not muster the fortitude to stand behind him when the heat was on? I would never in a million years have believed that could happen at The Ohio State University.



  1. Nice work, Mark.

    There is no doubt IMHO that Gee and Smith are about one-tenth the men that Jim Tressel is.

    Beating Michigan is always fun, but having (mostly) quality young men in the program, doing well on the APR, having athletes who actually speak English, and having a coach with a moral compass is what I really enjoyed. Tressel was the finest man, and probably the finest person, employed at tOSU. I for one shall always admire him.

    Scott Laidig
    aka semperfibuck

  2. Time to get “JT” patches for next season’s uniforms…

  3. At a minimum, Smith should go too. Comparing Smith to Tressel is like comparing a lightning bug to lightning. Tressel was sacrificed by those who are unworthy to carry his vest.

  4. Tressel was a crook and now TOSU must pay the price. How difficult would it have been to take the information JT had regarding these infractions to his conpliance department? For such a great coach and mentor (as you seem to think he WAS) he made some very very stupid and easily changeable mistakes. Just Saying. Enjoy your time in football purgatory with USC.

    • Pryor is the one that needs to go ! That pompous Prima donna. From the time he strung out his recruitment, you could tell he was going to be trouble. I say kick him and his renegade bunch, off the team ASAP.

      • I think you are right Pryor needs to go. Been a bad fit from day one. I will miss coach he is a good man, made a poor choice! Go Bucks

    • Your comments and opinions are uneducated; Tressel IS and always WILL BE a great coach and mentor. He’s never been a crook, and to even breath that is disgusting. YOU must be a hater Michigan fan who now sees a victory the only way your team can get one!

      Were his choices poor? Yes. Does the entire Buckeye Nation wish he’d made different choices? Yes. But all of us are human and I’m sure even your sanctimonious behind has not led a stellar, perfect life. As Mark and all here have pointed out, the true character of this man speaks for itself time and again. Unfortunately, our loss will be another school’s gain 😦

  5. It is not about winning and what is best for the OSU football program. It is about the integrity of the institution. As I understand the facts, Tressel needed to go…

  6. We don’t need “JT” patches, we can get them all discounted “JT” tattoos.

  7. I am a Buckeye and a major fan of the football program…no other sports, no other team.

    Thanks to the Magic 5, likely led by Pryor, your coach has been thrown under the bus. Why is it that no one is suggesting that they should go as well. When coaches get too close to their players, they risk all…. for their players.

    Now is the time to get to the NCAA as well. Who holds the major responsibility for this mess? As in industrial accidents, this was a cascade of mistakes: 1) NCAA, 2) Magic 5, 3) Gee and Smith, and then 4) Coach.


  8. Great story, Mark Always good to know someone in Columbus knows a real man when they see one . I’m sure you remember when Gee thought a tie with the team up north was “Our Greatest Win Ever”. Keep up the good reporting…

  9. Mark, Great article!! I believe that Gee and Smith should also resign, They didn’ have the b@@@@ to back up Jim. I second Scott’s blog 100%!!!!

  10. I hate to see Jim Trussel go out this way. As a coach you can only do so much reconstuction to a young man’s character. J T got duped by the type of athletes that are being rectuitrd into the big colleges for their sports programs. College sports has become a big money maker and with it comes greed at what ever cost.
    Whar is rhe chance of Urban Myer as our new coach. I hear he bought a home in Columbus recently?

    Jack Baker
    Oh10JAX. The Desert Buck

    • The thought of Urban Myer as Ohio State coach makes me sick.

  11. Tressel is a great guy and a fine coach. Yes, he made a mistake. What I’d like to know is who investigates the investigators? Are justice and penalties meted out equally? How about the Auburn clearance in 24 hours?

    And is it time to recognize that all the rules for college athletes may not make complete sense?

  12. Any insight into the rumors that an advance copy of a soon-to-be-released SI article was given to OSU top officials wich may have something to do with this?

    • We don’t know yet what’s in the SI article, although the author has blogged that when his article is made public we will all know why Tressel had to quit. It is obvious from statements by Gee and Smith that they put some pressure on Tressel last night. What’s not known yet is how much pressure members of the Board of Trustees put on G & S before that. I believe that they were worried about the damage this saga was inflicting on the academic reputation of tOSU, and rightly so. The football team’s record should not be more important than the institution as a whole. I’d bet that Jim Tressel agrees with this, which is why he agreed to resign.

      One question for the 40% who voted that Tressel shouldn’t resign on the Cleveland.com poll: would you have backed John Cooper (and his losing record against Michigan) so strongly?

  13. Ohio State will have to go far to find a coach who runs a football program as well as Jim Tressel. I do not blame President Gee or Gene Smith for this travesty. I think they are good people and good examples, too. They both have good track records.

    I sincerely question the vast web of regulations that the NCAA has woven to trap university programs. Many infractions are best handled in house and the relatively trivial infractions concerning the sale of memorabilia are a good example.

    These young men sacrifice their minds and bodies for the benefit of the NCAA. They should be adequately compensated. A “full ride” should mean a “full ride”. The NCAA and the university athletic programs sell these men’s names and reputation based on their performance and abilities and the young men get nothing for that financial reward.

    No wonder Coach Tressel tried to protect them.

    • Great comments. I could not agree more. I have felt for years, the NCAA is like our fedeal government…big, bad, and out of control! Shame on NCAA…using young kids many who come from broken homes, or no home at all)…using their name and talent to fill the stadium seats, laughing all the way to the bank…but cannot afford to give the kids a “FULL RIDE!”…instead they relish on starving them and telling them what they can or cannot do with their possesions. We need a NCAA overhaul…it is full of money hungry, power hungry control freeks….and our only answer…(once again) is just like our government….ADD ANOTHER RULE!

    • Have you really followed Gordon’s career trek to OSU, why he left and what they did to get him back? If you want to keep it simple, just look at the salary, bonus and all compensation given most is publicly available. Simply said, follow the money. He did!

  14. Now maybe he’ll write a book and he’ll tell just what a hit he took for the University. I for one am convinced Gee and Smith showed their support for him because he was doing them a favor and covering up the mistakes made by Smith and Gee. Going to be sad when The Ohio State University gets hit with all the sanctions AND they have lost a tremendous head coach. His resignation will not stop the NCAA penalties.

  15. Good write up Mark. Agree fully.

    While Smith handled this very poorly, and should probably resign too.

    It bothers me to no end that the NCAA is so flawed that it focuses on loaner cars and trinkets in an effort to maintain an outdated and unenforceable vision of amateur athletics.

  16. I could’t agree more; and now Gee and Smith can try to take cover behind the Trustees but as we say in Southern Ohio “That dog won’t hunt”. I don’t think there is a better Major College Program coach out there. Thanks for your thoughtful article. Sincerely, Pail Jacobs

  17. Great comments & thoughts Mark! I always enjoy reading your thoughts, and agree with you all the time! You hit the nail on the head!
    For all of you “do gooders,” how many of you so called “red blooded” OSU fans can look yourself in the mirror every morning and say, “I have never lied?” …or “I have never lied to help protect another human being?” None of us can. Jim Tressel is a great human being that does make mistakes, just like you and I. He was going to be crucified no matter what decision he made concerning this case. But being the player’s coach that he is, he defended his players. I coach, and I would have done the exact same thing. A team becomes your family, and you will stand behind them. I am convinced he went into this knowing full well it was wrong, but willing to take the hit if the heat came his way. So get off your superior pedestal some of you put yourself on and become a human! I cannot believe for one second that Gene Smith & Gorden Gee did not know anything about this. Gene Smith was chairman of the NCAA rules interpretation committee & the basketball selection committee…in both cases OSU got the shaft! I would like to see those two individuals stand up to the heat and face the music along side of Tressel. When OSU gets a pair, and is willing to stand along side of Jim Tressel and take the heat, I might consider supporting the alumni association again, but until that happens, I am turning a deaf ear to the OSU administration! OSU administration & Board of Trustees,……..You are cowards!

  18. Tressel should have resigned/been fired in March. He committed a dozen sins of omission; a dozen more sins of commission. Then he continued to lie about it all. Cave in? Not back him? Those who think Tressel should not have been gone before this are in serious denial about how serious his mistakes have been. Yes, the NCAA has rollercoaster standards, but that is beside the point. Tressel failed to do the right thing on many occasions — by any standards. He’s shown his goody-two-shoes persona to be a thin veneer.
    Smith’s and Gee’s cravenness is their failure to man up and can Tressel long before this. They did back him — but for far too long. The nation has been shaking its collective head, wondering how these three guys – Tressel, Smith, and Gee – could have the affront to try to bluster through the embarrassment they have wrought on OSU.
    One down; two to go.

    • The core of your statements are accurate. The “dozen” is a bit of a stretch. Surely, the upper management talk team during success and promulgate failure is an orphan, but it is more than conceivable, they, too, were in the know and the Coach (soldier) tried to make the buck stop with him. Sadly, OSU created the winner we all wanted and did so the way many others have. Some caught. Some not. Bottom line, both players and Coach are guilty. They will pay some price. OSU, by default, is guilty, thus, leadership should take the hit along with our beloved program for breaking the rules.

  19. Really feel for JT,but it is a miracle that this did not happen years ago .Youngstown was a mess for him and MC with his car scandals ,fixed classes,and up to 17 kids with cars from dealers on campus and JT and staff not knowing?…he had to go and I bet penalties are worse than at USC…say it out loud a couple of times..as sad as it is to lose a legend this was the right call..JT is not bigger than OSU

  20. If only all of you sanctimonious people were as perfect as you say Tressel should have been! How many of your comments come from jealousy? Or from just plain not liking OSU — no matter what the reason? Yes, Tressel made mistakes. But, these were not the kind of mistakes that call for a public hanging — as many of you seem to call for! Perhaps you should look inside yourselves. Are YOU living to the same standards as you are trying to hold Jim Tressel too???????????

  21. E. Gordon Gee = Miles Brandt. OSU went the way of IU and let a smallish band of well funded critics oust a legend because they couldn’t stand a little heat that might put a small smudge on what they preceived to be an unblemished university reputation. Tressel’s biggest flaw is he is to loyal to his Buckeye Football “family”, just like Woody before him. Those people that Jim felt were part of that loyal family (Smith and Gee) just threw him under the bus.
    I guess all the good things he did….on the field, in the classroom, in the community, and personally in the lives of so many….disappeared in the wake of this “monumental” error of judgement.
    I hope those involved in the ouster of this man enjoy their brief feeling of self-righteousness. It will be short lived….especially if the Buckeyes sink from National prominance. But then agaiin, that could be exactly what these “holier than thou” folks want in the first place. Many academic types feel that a university cant be “world class” in both academics and sports. Sad but true.
    Maybe they can just change the name from THE Ohio State University to Les Wexner College….do away with Varsity football and play flag football on Victoria’s Secret Field at The Limited BallPark…. that is when they are not having poetry readings and dance recitals at the venue on the banks of the Olentangy…..Lord helps us!

  22. Let’s keep it simple. Few hold themselves to the standard they hold other, especially those in leadership. Fact is, he is leading you men and paid well to do so. He made mistakes. He did not admit and he tried cover up. He also said he did not know who to go. Give me a break. Every person at OSU in management is undergoes training which covers this. The employee is to go to his manager or HR. If not them, the logical choice is one’s attorney.

    Let us not be biased by our love of OSU and nor blinded by the success Tressel had. You can admit you blew it BEFORE trying to cover it up and be forgiven. May be a penalty first and that is appropriate. However, given past grievances and questions, one has to ask if he was merely repeating what worked for him and so many others – deny until proven guilty. And, my fellow Buckeye’s he did.

    Bottom line, he lied it like Nixon and Clinton. Unlike Clinton, he was willing to do the right thing when caught lying and trust me when I say I really like this guy and the way he mentored student-athletes into men. With his character shown to be two-faced, he was no longer in a position to lead the way he has to date. Hopefully, we will see character again as well as a dominant power…and, hopefully, one that is not based on cheating. Herbstreit was right and many chided he and his family. Fact was, Kirk was doing his job and loves the school. Buckeye fans owed him better for doing his job and now we owe him more.

  23. Nicely and “OBJECTIVELY” said.

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