Catching up on Jim Tressel and the Ohio State mess; more Mailbag
So did anything happen while I was gone?
Actually, Tressel resigned the morning after my wedding. I was sitting at a late breakfast with some friends and relatives when I happened to check my phone and see an e-mail referencing said resignation -- which had apparently happened hours earlier. I chuckled at the timing but didn't give it much more thought until that evening, when
However, I was out of the country and 100 percent out-of-the-loop (no phone, email, Internet or Twitter) for two weeks when the following stories occurred: Terrelle Pryor's departure, Bill Stewart's resignation (and all the bizarre events that preceded it), USC's title being vacated and Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton's resignation. (At least the NCAA waited until I got back to drop the
Really, I should probably be asking you guys the questions this time. But, hey, you kept asking, especially in regards to that school in Columbus.
I agree that 2011 will essentially be a lost season for the Buckeyes, and so if the school felt certain a postseason ban was in its future, it might be best to get it out of the way. In fact, that's exactly what the school did with its scandal-ridden basketball program in 2005, voluntarily banning coach Thad Matta's first team from that year's NCAA tournament, which paid dividends two years later when Greg Oden, Mike Conley and Co. were free and clear to reach the national title game.
However, despite what most of the free world thinks, it's not nearly as certain
Since the day the tattoo story first broke last December, Ohio State president Gordon Gee and AD Gene Smith have constantly downplayed the school's culpability. Only after intense media scrutiny did Tressel's suspension go from two games to five, and then, in the face of Dohrmann's pending story, to resignation. Gee has expressed regret over the handling of Tressel but not over the school's farcical, fast-tracked investigation last December that led Smith to declare, "This is isolated to these young men, isolated to this particular incident. There are no other violations that exist." If they're sticking to their "nothing to see here" mantra, then it's hard to imagine they'd self-impose a postseason ban. But one thing Gene and Gordo should consider: The Infractions Committee came down hard on USC because the school "knew or should have known" that Reggie Bush's parents were living large in San Diego and that Bush was taking free trips to Las Vegas. I have to think they'd feel even more strongly that someone -- a position coach, a graduate assistant, a compliance officer or all of the above -- "knew or should have known" about rampant violations occurring right under their nose in Columbus.
There is no explanation. I give Oregon credit for releasing the documents (rather than stall and wait for a judge's ruling, like some other schools under investigation), but, man, are they damning. Quite clearly, the original document Oregon paid for was a sham, and only the most blindly loyal Ducks supporter can't see the situation for what it is. At best, the coaching staff did a favor for a guy that's well known at this point to be a friend and mentor to several of their most prominent players. (Lyles attended last year's ESPN awards show as a guest of LaMichael James; text records released Monday show Kelly exchanged 12 texts with Lyles in the two days before James' commitment in 2008.) At worst -- and what most of the public believes at this point -- the Ducks used Lyles' half-baked "recruiting service" as a vehicle by which to pay him for steering coveted prospect Lache Seastrunk to Oregon.
Either way, it's still not clear whether the NCAA can do anything about it retroactively. While the NCAA has been feverishly writing and updating policies about recruiting services over the past year or so to address these very problems, it's not clear what the punishment would be simply for purchasing a service that doesn't fall within its guidelines. And as for proving authoritatively that Oregon paid for Seastrunk -- unless one of the parties involved testifies as such (not likely), that's a hefty accusation to levy solely because "this looks fishy." Ultimately, it may be that Kelly successfully did what a lot of competitive coaches do: found a loophole and exploited it. But there's very little he could say at this point that would convince most rational people that Oregon's dealings with Lyles constituted any sort of legitimate transaction. And whatever the NCAA ultimately decrees, I would imagine his bosses will have something to say about it.
I've got no problem with Jacobs throwing around whatever hyperbole he wants to over Chizik. He just won a national championship. Why not? But Chizik is without question the least-heralded coach to win a national championship since Miami's Larry Coker. A great segment of the public thinks he simply got lucky, landed a transcendent quarterback and is being propped up by his renowned offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn (though I would argue the head coach's most important job is hiring a great staff). And, of course, there are those who will never be convinced Auburn didn't buy its championship.
On the day he was hired, I offered
So, yes, the bar is now set very high for Chizik. Though to be fair, I renamed it
In 1986, I assume I would have been far more shocked by scenario A, since scenario B had occurred
I had to chuckle when I saw the
I made my feelings on that abundantly clear back on
The interesting paradox of the latest West Virginia soap opera is that while AD Oliver Luck is taking a lot of heat for the cockamamie succession plan that ultimately prompted Stewart's alleged back-stabbing mission, he did it in large part to try to erase the mistakes his good 'ol boy predecessor, Ed Pastilong, made by not only handing the job to the obviously unqualified (albeit super duper nice guy, at least to anyone not named Dana Holgorsen) Stewart but literally
Wow. This is an immediate candidate for the Mailbag Hall of Fame.
I hope, like anyone, that Abe remains with us forever, but house money falls on the WAC. Karl Benson is a very determined man. Even if his conference is now competing for members
On the flip side, Benson, unlike Abe, is not likely to become
Actually, college basketball teams do this already. Duke, Kentucky and Kansas all take advantage of an NCAA rule that allows teams to take a foreign tour once every four years, so long as it takes place at least 30 days before the start of practice. Most teams go in the summer, and Italy seems to be the most common destination. It's not a recruiting inducement as much as a chance for extra practice and competition, and for the athletes to experience another culture.
But it's a lot harder to pull off in football, which is why we rarely see it. It costs infinitely more to take a team of 85 players abroad than a team of 13, and most foreign countries are not brimming with American football teams to provide competition. The Drake experience was incredibly unique, but hopefully there will be more like it in the future.
If your girlfriend is as cool as my wife, she'll understand. Unless her birthday is the same day Northwestern plays Eastern Illinois, in which case I'm on her side.