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Sweatervested Interest: Day After Gawking At The Smoking Crater Of Ohio State Football.

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Who's in for a little mood music?

Well, I think we now have a pretty good idea why Jim Tressel resigned. In case you missed it Sports Illustrated's George Dohrmann and David Epstein penned a pretty interesting indictment of Tressel's involvement in the "tattoo scandal", raising the possibility that it was less a "scandal" and more "the way Ohio State players made extra money for eight years or so, such that only a total moron or senile wombat could have been genuinely ignorant of what was going on." There's also a reminder that the Senator (no not the reputable one, the guy in Ohio) managed to get out of Youngstown just before things got too hairy in the case of In Re: Somebody paid my starting quarterback several thousand dollars after I told him to go see the guy who did the paying, but I swear I wasn't involved* (41 Florida Rep. 14, 2006). I call the SI piece "interesting" because that's what I found it to be, rather than "damning" or groundbreaking" or any other such superlative. Taken as true, it shows at a minimum that Columbus's ink entrepreneurs were into the whole Sport Cuts "place to chill while spending money" aesthetic way before barbers were, and at a maximum that Tressel was running a bit of a loose ship.

Lots of reaction around the internet, including:

  • Matt Hinton noting that Terrelle Pryor has a whole different set of problems to worry about, and that Urban Meyer is not so much saying "no" about taking over in Columbus as he is saying "not now."
  • Eleven Warriors is less impressed with the SI article than I was. Though I think we can agree that rigging a raffle for free Nike swag at a summer football camp is pretty bush league.
  • Pat Forde managed to work "Vestiges", "tattoos" and "tatters" into his hand-ringer, thereby winning office word-bingo and a $10 TGI Friday's gift certificate. Hats off the you, Pat.
  • Kevin Scarbinsky on the other hand wins at connect-the-dots by implying that Mike Slive deserves some credit for Tressel's ouster as a result of his demonstrated willingness to punish Bruce Pearl for being untruthful to the NCAA. I tend to think that's a bit of a stretch, but I really want someone to ask Gordon Gee and Gene Smith whether they considered Slive's and Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton's responses to the Pearl shenanigans before acting. Just to see them get all huffy and shout "No!" in unison.
  • Pete Thamel asks one of the best questions of the day, namely, what about this situation made Gordon Gee and Gene Smith think that suspending Tressel for the Akron and Toledo games was a sufficient punishment for covering up violations and lying to the NCAA? Thamel also notes the big lesson from Dez Bryant's disqualification and Bruce Pearl's firing: you can't lie to the NCAA under any circumstances. I would go farther and say that it's become the one thing you can't do at this point. Everything else (selling your jersey, $500 handshakes, improper recruiting contacts, attending a party and accepting free champagne, etc.) will get you suspended or forced to pay restitution and/or write a 500 word essay. But lying about any of these things will end your coaching or playing career.
  • And perhaps the cuttingest of quotes on the day comes from SI's Andy Staples, who asks:
If the three highest profile players of a big-time coach's career all got dinged by the NCAA, you would think that coach might be dirty. So why, after Maurice Clarett, Troy Smith and Terrelle Pryor all faced NCAA sanctions, did people still think Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was squeaky clean? Why, after Tressel admitted in March that he played ineligible players and lied to the NCAA about it, did people still rush to his defense, claiming him an otherwise perfect coach who made one little mistake?

It's an intriguing question. And I have no answer. If anyone else does feel free to chime in.

*Not an actual reported decision of any court of which I am aware. But it should be.