Buckeye nightmare: Tattoo-gate just won’t dieWritten by Chris Schmidbauer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Ohio State’s athletic director Gene Smith must feel like he’s experiencing deja vu these days.
It has been more than a month since the school announced that head football coach Jim Tressel was aware that players had selling memorabilia in exchange for tattoos and other gifts.
Usually with time, due in large part to a short attention span by the public, the major stories seem to fade into the background and become part of the rich tapestry of our subconscious.
But with yet another story being reported on April 20, Tattoo-gate still seems to be alive and kicking.
The latest report dealt with an update on the ongoing investigation surrounding Tressel and the fallout from the now infamous press conference that was conducted during this past March.
There wasn’t any form of a bombshell that came from the story outside of the fact that Tressel’s $250,000 fine probably won’t cover the cost of the investigation, but one quote did stick out when reading the story published by the Associated Press.
When referring to the situation surrounding Tressel and the five players involved in the NCAA scandal, Smith was quoted as saying that, “It’s a nightmare.”
The phrase itself isn’t that revealing. Anyone in Smith’s shoes would likely say the same thing, but the Freddy Krueger scenario reaches far beyond any potential violations that will be dealt with by the Buckeyes.
Golf legend and Ohio State alum Jack Nicklaus informed reporters at a fundraiser for the annual Memorial Tournament held in the Columbus suburb of Dublin that he feels that “Jim Tressel is taking the fall.” Nicklaus went on to say that while he is not privy to any information that the media is not aware of, he thinks Tressel is a “good guy” and made allegations that he believes Smith and university president Gordon Gee knew about the involvement of players selling merchandise to tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife.
As hurtful as the Golden Bear’s comments to Smith might be, he isn’t the only one talking about the situation. Gee got in the act this week after he talked with the Ohio State student newspaper “The Lantern” to apologize for his ill timed joke at the March presser. The phrase “I’m just hoping the coach doesn’t dismiss me” might be the epithet on Gee’s tombstone when everything is all said and done.
If you need further proof of the zombie like qualities of the Tressel saga head on over to Google. After conducting a simple search of Jim Tressel, there were over one million results that were returned. I am going to hypothesize that there was far less just two months ago and there were probably fewer ones calling for the head coach of Ohio State to be fired too.
Whether fortunate or unfortunate, Smith has been the one left to take the brunt of the fallout from Tattoo-gate.
Tressel has been able to focus on spring practice which will wrap up on April 23 with the annual spring game. While there may be the occasional query into the pending NCAA investigation, the Vest has been able to focus on football and preparing his team for life without him for five games next season.
Gee’s natural domain is academia and not rooted in the sports realm. There are far more pressing situations like the university’s commencement and overall university problems to get lost in then worrying about any verbal gaffes made earlier this spring.
Smith has been the point man for questions regarding the case. He was peppered with questions in the AP article about every angle of the ongoing investigation. For Smith, there is no other world to escape in to.
There is just this behemoth of a story: Tattoo-gate and all the problems that surround it and it is not showing any signs of going away anytime soon.
Whenever the final verdict on the NCAA violations are passed down, it might be another dark day in Columbus for Tressel and the Buckeyes.
But forgive Gene Smith if he has a little smile come across his face. He will just be happy that his personal “Groundhog Day” may be coming to an end.