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Tressel’s best option: Resign

Published: Tue, April 26, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

The smoke and mirrors have given way to mud. Slinging mud, that is, and you haven’t seen anything yet.

Ohio State’s football program is tainted, forever, and the path is as certain as Script Ohio:

Jim Tressel needs to go.

He should resign. If he chooses to stay and fight, then Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith should terminate his contract.

These are not easy words to write. Like you, I was here for most of the Tressel era at Youngstown State University.

Those were glorious times, as the wins kept coming and a berth in the championship game was almost a foregone conclusion.

We all reveled in the shining light of the Penguins’ success, and perhaps we were all a little blinded by that light. Surely, we didn’t want to believe that success was tainted. But it was, thanks to Youngstown businessman Mickey Monus supplying quarterback Ray Isaac, the star of the 1991 championship team, with money and cars. That was the first time his critics had the ammunition to suggest Tressel was not uncomfortable turning a blind eye, or deaf ear, to his players receiving illegal benefits.

And, of course, there were the months of claims and counter-charges involving Maurice Clarett, the star-crossed running back from Youngstown who helped the Buckeyes to the 2002 BCS championship. Clarett claimed Ohio State coaches had helped supply him with cars, money and grades for classes he didn’t attend. Of course, Clarett’s legal troubles didn’t help his cause and Tressel and Ohio State didn’t face any sanctions — while not exactly being exonerated, either.

Even with all that, I believe Jim Tressel to be an honorable man. I know he is a successful one.

I also know him to be a man who makes mistakes. This one is a whopper.

The day Tressel was introduced at Ohio State, his press conference message was so well-delivered, so polished, that many in the room couldn’t (or wouldn’t) believe him. It was “too sincere,” they said.

He’s acquired many nicknames since then — “Sweater Vest” and “ The Senator,” to name a couple.

Now, he’s being labeled “Liar” and “Cheater.”

Harsh, indeed, but don’t be naive enough to think those descriptions won’t be used by coaches at other schools during the recruiting process.

That alone should compel Tressel to step down. Even if he believes he acted in the best interests of his players — a flawed premise, without question — the fact is, Ohio State is going to take a substantial hit from the NCAA in terms of lost scholarships and television revenue.

As long as he is at the helm of the ship, competing coaches are going to remind recruits at every possible moment that, if they choose Ohio State, they are going to forfeit a certain amount of exposure and January bowl trips.

The NCAA’s hard-line stance is going to gain traction the longer Tressel stays on and fights.

I believe, if he could go back in time, Tressel would have chosen a different path.

But that is not possible. And, he must suffer the consequences of making the wrong choice.

Jim Tressel is the icon of two universities and their most visible programs.

Unlike YSU, Ohio State football was not built by Jim Tressel. The foundation was solid long before he became its chief architect.

Even when John Cooper was bungling through countless Novembers and the bowl seasons, the Buckeyes were still one of the nation’s elite programs.

On Monday, former Ohio State quarterback and ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said he believes Cooper, if caught in a similar lie, would have been fired already.

He’s right. There’s something to be said for how much winning games can loosen the noose.

But Tressel is not — and should not be — bigger than the program and the institution he represents.

If he truly loves Ohio State and its football program as much as he has always professed, Tressel should do the honorable thing and resign.

Rob Todor is sports editor of The Vindicator. Write to him at todor@vindy.com


1Rockyroad(149 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Todor, in the 50 years that I have read the Vindicator, this is the most courageous article that I can recall. You really spoke truth to power, considering Jim Tressel's popularity in this area. The "True Believers" just don't realize that this may end up being the worst scandal in the history of college sports.

Not only are Gee, Smith and Tressel on the hot seat, but in a perverse way the NCAA is as well. When the story broke on players selling memorabilia the NCAA whitewashed things by not suspending the players imediately and by allowing them to play in the bowl game. The reason was transparent; corporate interest in the bowl game held sway over any ruling of ineligibility.

However, if the NCAA whitewashes things again, because like the big banks in the financial crisis, in the college sports economy OSU football is "too big to fail" it should be evident that the corruption in college sports is endemic and pervasive right up through its governing body.

If OSU comes away with a slap on the knuckles, congressional hearings looking into college football will not be far off. This is the "Watergate" moment for college football. It is more than shameful that THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY is involved.

Jim Tressel has a chance at redemption by resigning. If he pulls a Richard Nixon, which he has done up to now, the end result will be that he is fired and the good name that Lee Tressel gave to his family will be forever sullied.

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2espnlooop(27 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

I love Tressel, but you nailed it!

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3walter_sobchak(2716 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

The fact that the NCAA whitewashed this offense by allowing the players to participate in the bowl game is the exact reason that Tressel will survive this situation. All of these big-time colleges are feeding at the trough of hypocrisy, not just OSU and not just Tressel. The good-will and other BS he has built-up over the years will see him through this

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4YtownSports(306 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

It's a hard pill to swallow for those of us who long believed in Coach Tressel. If he leaves O.S.U., he'll have plenty of coaching options, but coaching the Buckeyes was his dream job. It won't be the same for him somewhere else. Hopefully, it won't be the same for whoever hires him, either.
Perhaps the fact that coaching Ohio State is his dream makes it harder for him to look at the "greater good" and resign. However, better to do that with some honor than be pushed out looking like someone with little or no honor.

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5ohgirl(7 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

I 100 percent totally disagree with your article. I am really thinking of canceling my subscription. Jim Tressel put Youngstown on the map - Youngstown only wants to be known for crime, corrupt and negativity. Jim Tressel is a well respected man and is still a well respected man. He made a mistake and you crucify the guy. This man did not launder money. The rule that the players cannot sell their stuff should be done away with anyways. The stuff was given to them, let them do with it whatever they want. You people are rude and this is the reason that I never let people know that I live near Youngstown Ohio. Articles like this ruin our area. Give the man a break.

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