Back 9: I’m Mad as Hell!!Written by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
I’m mad as Hell and I’m not going to take it anymore! I’m mad at Terrelle Pryor for breaking a stupid NCAA rule and selling his OSU memorabilia to get tattoos. I’m mad at Jim Tressel for not following correct reporting policies to the NCAA when he learned of the stupid violations. I’m mad at the NCAA for all the stupid minor rules that they enforce when it’s convenient for them. It wasn’t convenient last January to suspend Pryor and the other four Buckeyes when they were about to play in a bowl game. They decided it was way more important to keep the Bowl committee and the sponsors happy while maintaining big TV ratings to keep the money rolling in for everyone except the kids playing the stupid game. As long as the bowls, the universities, and the NCAA are making money everything is just Jim Dandy.
Jim Tressel’s resignation as the Head Football Coach at “the” Ohio State University and the subsequent reporting of NCAA rules violations in every sports media venue in the world is driving me crazy. My weekly copy of Sports Illustrated arrived in the mail and predictably there is Tressel with white dress shirt, gray OSU tie, and his signature red sweater vest on the front cover. His expressionless face is staring straight ahead not allowing anyone to see what is really going on behind the tinted lens of his prescription glasses. The cool, calm head football coach and master of planning and execution on the field made a error in judgment of massive proportions off the field that has cost him his dream job and has left the university and its millions of fanatic followers out in the cold and at the mercy its football rivals.
The PGA Tour is in Dublin for the Memorial at Muirfield Village this week and the first question posed to Jack Nicklaus in his Tuesday press conference was about the Tressel situation. The lead story Monday morning on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive was about Tressel and the OSU football program. I have had to take ESPN off my favorites button on the TV remote. For the love of Woody Hayes, what ever happened to the baseball season, the NBA and NHL playoffs?
I have to admit I have enjoyed the past 10 years with Coach Tressel at the helm. He personified class, seemed to always be under control and brought a sense of continuity and confidence to the program that had been nonexistent for some years. His record was impeccable, especially the 9-1 record versus that “school up north”, three appearances in the BCS Championship game and the 2003 National Championship. If you aren’t the Pope or Billy Graham the “Holier Than Thou” image only works for so long. Tressel’s Mr. Clean persona has fallen in a very large mud puddle.
There were some bumps along the way, remember Maurice Clarrett? Over the years there were also some rumors about cars and other unsavory activities among players, as well as, some murmurs about recruiting inconsistencies that affected some assistant coaches, but with Coach Jim in the office, everything was under control, no major problem, nothing to worry about. What in the wide, wide world of sports happened? How could it all go so wrong?
Tress liked to grind out a lead and then turn the game over to his defense, very predictable, very safe, no frills. How could someone so adverse to risk on the football field risk it all for a couple of less than bright football players. Everyone knows the stakes. The visibility and money generated for a university through Division 1 football is astronomical. Alumni are lured into enormous donations to ensure that their alma mater continues to keep up with the other big boys in competition. It’s the American Way. We’re Number One!!
Jack Nicklaus seemed to have expressed it the best. Tressel as the benevolent father tried to protect his players’ indiscretions. Just like any father would do for his children. Tressel was doing business as it was done 20 years ago. However, with the ever present internet, facebook, and twitter, it ain’t the same today. The offense committed was relatively minor, the non-reporting and eventual cover up is a horse of a different color. How can some 19 year old kids selling a few trinkets for tattoos create such a mess?
When the story broke a couple of months ago about irregularities in the reporting of the NCAA rules violations of Terrelle Pryor and the other four football players by Tressel, actually the non-reporting, it seemed inevitable that Tressel’s days were numbered. 13 other Division 1 coaches had committed similar offenses and all 13 had lost their coaching jobs. It’s kind of like an elderly family member that has to go into hospice, you know what’s coming but it still hurts when the final announcement comes. I have spent the last couple of months with a terrible disappointing, almost sick to the stomach feeling. Neither large dosages of Miller Lite nor Pepto Bismol seemed to provide any lasting relief.
Ohio State has become the butt of every bad joke and now the reputation and conduct of the sports department has been completely destroyed. Fans, students, and alumni will suffer for some time to come.
I’m finally over the disappointment but now I’m Mad as Hell!