In short succession, the price paid by Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel for turning a blind eye towards knowledge of his players receiving illegal benefits has gone from a brief suspension, a longer suspension, and finally today, a was-he-pushed-or-did-he-jump resignation. It’s not every day that a coach with Tressel’s resume is compelled to
look like a gentile Bruce Pearl fall on his sword, just as it isn’t an routine occurrence that I find myself agreeing with CBS Sports’ Greg Doyel, who urges the NCAA the lower the boom, “after the silly school president bragged about what a good man his lying, scheming, sportsmanship-abusing football coach really was”.
Jim Tressel’s resignation in January — when Ohio State first learned of his deception — would have been enough to shelter Ohio State from its former coach’s behavior. But not after that ridiculous man with the ridiculous initial tried to laugh off — tried to minimize — his coach’s indefensible actions by joking that he wouldn’t dismiss Tressel. “Let me just be very clear,” E. Gordon Gee said on March 8. “I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me.”
And not after the Ohio State athletics director also tolerated Tressel’s blasphemy all these months by refusing to force him out. If Gene Smith tried to fire Tressel after Tressel lied to him about the existence of violations in early December, we don’t know about it.
How, you may be asking, would we know that Smith tried unsuccessfully to fire Tressel in January, February, March or even April? This is how we’d know: Gene Smith would have resigned in disgust. Because if you’re the AD of a major Division I school — and you’re so committed to the ideals of the NCAA that you’ve spent the past five years sitting on the NCAA’s prestigious Division I basketball committee, the past 10 months as the chairman — then you couldn’t possibly stomach the thought of such a liar representing your school. And yourself. So you’d fire Jim Tressel, or you’d resign in protest. Doing neither? Congratulations, Gene Smith. Just like your absurd school president, you’ve essentially condoned Jim Tressel’s behavior for nearly five months.
(Addendum : if you thought 9am on a national holiday was a strange time for Ohio State to announce Tressel’s departure, there’s speculation the coach’s hand was forced by the pending publication of a damaging Sports Illustrated article. Who knew Jay Horowitz was moonlighting for the OSU sports information department?)