Buckeye fans forgiving — if winning continues


Associated Press

COLUMBUS

Ohio State football fans said they haven’t lost respect for coach Jim Tressel after the university announced Tuesday that it was suspending him for two games and fining him $250,000 for violating NCAA rules.

“I feel like I really can’t say anything bad about Jim Tressel. I can’t dislike him,” said Ohio State psychology student Alex Chamness, 22, who watched the school’s announcement live on television at Eddie George’s Grille 27 near campus.

At Tressel’s alma mater Baldwin Wallace, college spokesman George Richard called the coach a “stand-up guy” who acknowledged his mistake and said he’d do what he had to keep it from happening again.

“One of his hallmarks has been supporting players through difficult times, and I can’t imagine we’d do anything but the same for him,” Richard said.

Besides the suspension and fine, Tressel will receive a public reprimand and must make a public apology. The NCAA could impose additional sanctions.

The suspension stems from an investigation of Ohio State football players who received improper benefits from a tattoo parlor in Columbus. On Dec. 23, the NCAA suspended quarterback Terelle Pryor and four others for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling jerseys, championship rings and trophies to the owner of a local tattoo parlor. Another player was suspended for one game.

Ohio State said Tuesday that Tressel had received e-mails on the matter in April but didn’t notify the university until January. His contract specifies that he must immediately report any information pertaining to rules violations.

Matt Jeffers, of Maumee in suburban Toledo, said he was surprised but that he doesn’t think Tressel was trying to hide anything. A Buckeyes fan, he called Tressel a great, highly respected coach.

“We’ve put Tressel on a pretty high pedestal,” said Jeffers, at Dale’s bar in Maumee, where the decor is scarlet and gray and an autographed photo of Tressel hangs behind the bar. “To see him get him knocked down, it’s pretty hard to swallow.”

Jeffers, 42, said he expects it will blow over.

“Get a couple of wins, and it’ll be all right.”

Kenny Busson, 50, a Michigan fan from Perrysburg said he was shocked, but not disappointed.

“It’s nice to have the heat off Michigan for once,” he said.

Ohio State student Chamness said she was pleased that the penalties weren’t harsher after there had been speculation earlier in the day that Tressel might be fired.

“I was anticipating a lot worse outcome,” she said, acknowledging that the start of the football season is “gonna be rough.”

Sam Paros of Cleveland was among fans watching the announcement on a bank of TVs at Quicken Loans Arena before the Cavaliers hosted the Golden State Warriors. He praised Tressel for admitting what had happened and said the punishment seemed fair.

“He’s a coach. He’s not a parent,” Paros said. “These kids knew what they were doing.”

Tony Toy of Avon Lake said he was shocked.

“I never thought he would do anything like that to put himself or the program at risk,” Toy said. “It doesn’t make any sense. I guess nobody’s golden.”

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