I’ll be the first to admit that when all of the allegations against Ohio State’s football program started leaking earlier this year, I was as guilty as anyone of a quick, knee-jerk reaction.
When Jim Tressel went down like a disgraced Senator (see what I did there?), and Terrelle Pryor was accused of trying to autograph and sell anything that wasn’t bolted to the ground, I thought for sure that the Ohio State football dominance was over. So long Big Ten titles. See ya, regular BCS bowl game appearances. Hello major NCAA investigation. The way I saw it, all you had to do was take USC’s punishment from last summer, multiply it by 1.5, and that’s what Ohio State would end up with. Bowl bans, scholarship losses, a major overhaul of the entire Athletics Department. Anything and everything. You name it.
Which is why when I read the report on the findings from an NCAA investigation over the weekend, I was absolutely stunned.
Not only did it not appear that Ohio State wasn’t going to get hit with major sanctions, quite frankly, it doesn't appear they should be. If anything, Ohio State was running an Athletics Department, gulp, about as efficiently as you can.
Crazy, right? Well go ahead and read the report.
In it, we find a program that not only tried to do things the right way, but if anything, went above and beyond protocol to try and abide by the rules. We find a school which hammered home the ramifications of wrongdoing like an elementary school teacher lecturing her class before a field trip. The report also details the life of a coach that appeared to be some combination of scared, naïve and ignorant, someone who was undoubtedly concerned about his players, but not entirely sure how to handle them.
Granted, with that said, I understand most of you probably didn't have time to read the report, and most don't have the time now. Therefore, I'll go ahead and give you the nitty-gritty details here, so we can figure out what happened, and what it means going forward.
It’s time to do some Ohio State myth-busting.
Myth No. 1: The Ohio State Case Is One Of The Greatest Displays Of Over Exuberant Rule-Breaking We’ve Ever Seen
Understand that when all of the allegations against the Buckeyes started this spring, I consumed them like a middle-aged woman watching Ellen on a weekday afternoon. I repeatedly Googled Terrelle Pryor’s name like a teenage guy would Jessica Alba’s. I refreshed ESPN.com, craving the latest little nugget of news. Hell, I basically sabotaged my Memorial Day at the beach, trying to figure out what was going to come from George Dohrmann’s Sports Illustrated report.
And you know what? Sadly, it was all for nothing.
The reason being, that according to their report, the NCAA didn’t find out anything that we didn’t know back in February. Essentially, some players got a hook-up on some free tattoos, and Jim Tressel knew about it all the way back in April 2010. That’s it. The NCAA found nothing on Terrelle Pryor trading autographed goods for cash, and nothing about any widespread, deep seated corruption that dated back a decade. Just a few dudes who spent the last few years receiving free tatts, and a coach that knew about it.
With that said, is that alone bad? Of course it is. According to the report, there were eight guys that got some kind of hook-up, for stuff ranging from $150 to $14,200. Some NCAA sanctions are obviously coming for the school, and the guilty parties have all either been suspended, or you'd have to assume no longer with the school (either graduated, or in the case of Pryor, asked to leave).
At the same time, a lot of stuff we thought we knew doesn't appear to hold up. All those rumblings about Pryor receiving $40,000 for autographed goods, as well as the tattoo hookup taking place at multiple shops for multiple years? It just isn’t true. At least not according to the report. Instead the report indicates the tattoo hook-up started as recently as 2008, when Fine Line Ink owner Edward Rife became friends with a few players. It didn’t start in 2002, like had previously been reported.
Which in a way, brings me to a bigger fundamental problem, both with the way that we as fans consume our information, as well as the people that report it. And that’s, that we really should do a better job of holding our reporters accountable. Or at the very least, taking some of what they say with a grain of salt.
What do I mean?
Well, for starters, there was that whole story that ran on ESPN about Pryor autographing just about anything he could get his hands on for cash. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, since Pryor definitely left the school under some very suspicious circumstances. And as I’ve mentioned before, I found it very bizarre that on his “Camp Gruden” special Pryor repeatedly apologized to Ohio State fans, without saying what exactly he was apologizing for.
Still, while I think he might have done it, the NCAA was unable to prove that he actually did. Which again, probably says quite a bit about me as the fan here.
It also says quite a bit that I took to heart a story that involved one person’s account of what happened, with that person not even willing to show his face on camera. Was that one “source,” telling the truth and was afraid of repercussions? It’s definitely a possibility. Or does he simply have a vendetta and didn’t want it to be acknowledged? You could make the case of either, couldn’t you? Yet, I took the report as straight fact. And I shouldn’t have done that.
It’s similar with the Sports Illustrated report.
Understand I’m not blaming Dohrmann for what happened. I want to make it clear that Dohrmann is better at his job than I will ever be at anything I do. I sincerely mean that. And as he mentioned on Twitter Friday, the NCAA had the opportunity to interview one of his sources, but refused to for confidentiality reasons. Blame them in that case, not him.
At the same time, a lot of the information that he reported seems to have been debunked. Remember when Sports Illustrated reported that the free tattoos had been going at multiple locations for a decade? The NCAA disagrees; they said it’s been going on since 2008 and that’s it. Remember when Sports Illustrated said Pryor used to walk into the equipment room and took whatever he wanted? According to the NCAA’s findings, Ohio State had an extensive logging system for anyone who wanted to take big items (helmets, shoulder pads etc.) out of the equipment room. And for a lot of people who wanted those items, they had to pay for them, in compliance with NCAA rules.
That’s all in direct conflict with what’s been previously reported.
(Random side note: It’s for reasons like this, that I have begun to appreciate the reporting of Dan Wetzel, Charles Robinson and the Yahoo guys more and more by the day.
Go ahead and look at their track record. Those guys don’t dabble in the grey area, and don’t deal with unnamed sources. They get people on the record. Everything is backed up by receipts, phone logs and e-mail chains. Name an investigation, and it’s all the same: Willie Lyles at Oregon. Lloyd Lake at USC. Tom Moore at UConn. On the record. On the record. On the record.
Again, that’s not to take anything away from anyone else. It gives an especially strong appreciation to what those guys do though.)
Myth No. 2: Someone Besides Jim Tressel Should’ve Known About What Was Happening
Again, just like a lot of people, I jumped out to all sorts of assumptions similar to this one. Mainly, I wanted to know how this all could’ve been kept in the dark? Didn’t Tressel’s assistants know? The Athletic Director? Compliance? Come on! Someone had to know!!!
The answer to all those questions is that it’s just not that simple.
According to the NCAA findings, when Columbus lawyer Chris Cicero first contacted Tressel about Rife, the free tattoos and the Ohio State players involved, the coach told a grand total of three people about what he’d heard. Those people were two redacted players (almost assuredly Terrelle Pryor and DeVier Posey) and a Jeannette, Pennsylvania lawyer named Ted Sarniak. Sarniak of course was Pryor’s mentor from home, who according to Tressel, talked to TPeezy daily. That’s it. It was those three, and those three only who found out.
Amongst the people that Tressel didn’t tell when he got the e-mails included, Ohio State AD Gene Smith, the compliance department, any of his assistant coaches, any other players, or even his own wife. No seriously, he claims he didn’t tell her either.
So the first, fundamental question is, “Why didn’t Tressel tell anyone?” Well, if you believe him, what he said, actually makes sense.
Essentially, the reason that Tressel didn’t talk was because when Cicero came to him with the information, it was because Rife had just been busted in a federal investigation for drug trafficking. One, he didn’t want Cicero to get in trouble for giving him information, and two, it was a lot bigger than tattoos. According to Tressel’s testimony to the NCAA, he was more worried about his kids. Were they drug dealers? Drug users? Middle men?
Here are some direct quotes from Tressel's conversation with NCAA investigators:
“The worst-case scenario, they’re going to prison with Eddie Rife. Maybe they’re selling drugs. Maybe they’re using drugs. I guess best-case scenario, they’re selling memorabilia and we’ll take care of that. They know better than that.” And as he said, when a federal investigation is involved, it’s much bigger than an NCAA issue at that point”
He then added that he was worried about the player’s safety, being involved with a known drug trafficker:
“I’ve also had a player murdered. I have a player incarcerated. I have had a couple guys get sucked into the drug culture. I’ve had a player who served a ten-year suspension [sic] for obstruction of justice, you know? And those things, just like games, you remember the bad play in the game that cost you the game. You don’t remember the 77 good plays,”
And then, finally as he explained, again, this was a federal investigation. It went well beyond a simple NCAA ruling:
“’Cause to me, it wasn’t simply an NCAA rule. And I’m not belittling the importance of an NCAA rule. But it was way beyond an NCAA rule. I mean, it was a security issue. It was a federal criminal issue. It was a narcotics issue. You know, where do you turn?”
Of course that still doesn’t answer the fundamental question of should Ohio State have known. To which I ask, how could they?
Clearly for his own reasons (whether you believe them or not), Tressel went out of his way to keep this all secret. Just about the only way Ohio State could’ve had any idea, is if they did a detailed review of all his e-mails. Yes they should’ve been more proactive, but remember, he only traded two or three e-mails with his tipster, Cicero. It wasn’t a long, drawn out communication process.
Beyond that, at what point is a school trying to be compliant with NCAA rules (which we’ll get to in a minute) and at what point are they simply micro-managing? Remember, Ohio State has over 30 varsity sports, and those 30 varsity sports not only have a head coach, but also a litany of assistants. On top of all their other responsibilities, when does “checking every single e-mail,” become over the top burdensome and ridiculous for the compliance department?
Granted that Tressel was the highest profile coach they had, so the department probably should’ve been more watchful over him. But what does “more watchful” even mean? Check all his e-mails? Only some? Random audits? What about his assistants?
I don’t know.
However, this also brings me to my next point…
Myth No. 3: Ohio State Should’ve Done More!
Umm, no they shouldn’t have. Quite frankly, I’m not sure they could have. Simply put, anyone who is still saying that Ohio State “could’ve or should've done more,” is either an idiot, or didn't read the report. In some cases both (No offense).
Because if you did read the report, you’ll understand that this wasn’t some rogue program that had their head in the sand. Instead, it was one that not only followed protocol, but went way beyond it, and tried just about everything it could educate it’s players and coaches on what was acceptable, and what wasn’t.
Understand, that’s not my opinion. That’s fact. At least according to the NCAA report.
Amongst the things that they found, included that at least twice annually, the school met with the football program- players and coaches- about what was acceptable behavior, and what was not tolerated by NCAA rules.
Since I can’t say it better than the NCAA report did, here’s a direct quote from the report:
The institution demonstrated that each fall and spring during the time of the violations, it provided education to football student-athletes and staff, regarding extra benefits and preferential treatment.
Ok, not bad. Beyond that, it continues to say that the school talked specifically about selling rewards they got as being part of the team:
Regarding the sale of memorabilia, the institution provided the football staff with rules education specific to the sale of institutionally issued athletics awards each year starting in 2007.
Pretty good, right? Well how about a separate meeting before bowl games just to hammer the point home? Again, this is from the NCAA’s own investigation
The institution concluded additional education sessions for football student-athletes prior to each bowl game in which extra benefits were addressed, and the young men were told that it was impermissible to sell gifts received for participation in bowl games.
One more quote from the NCAA’s report, just to prove my point.
In November 2009, the institution increased its education to football student athletes regarding institutionally issued awards, apparel and equipment. Specifically the institution informed football student-athletes that it was impermissible to sell those items. The institution indicated that the increase in education was at least partially prompted by the specialty “throwback,” uniforms the team wore in its game against the University of Michigan.
So now let me ask you: Is this the renegade, out of control program that you pictured in your head a month, or maybe even a week ago? Or one with a few dumb players and an even dumber coach, who were warned time and time again about consequences for rule breaking and went forward and did it anyway?
For those who are ready to throw the book at Ohio State, what else were they supposed to do?
Myth No. 4: Who Cares, The NCAA Still Needs To Make An Example Out Of Ohio State
This one really pisses me off. Especially since I’ve seen a couple of well-respected reporters take this stance. Please stop.
Look, it’s not the NCAA’s job to make an example out of anyone. The NCAA’s job is to try and figure out right from wrong, investigate the rule breakers, and punish them accordingly. Not make the rules as they go, and punish as fans or the media sees fit. It’s also not their job to believe every piece of crap report that gets thrown out as “fact.” As NCAA President Mark Emmert has said before, the NCAA punishes based on “What we can prove, not what we read.”
And what the NCAA proved in their report is again, what we already knew: A handful of players received improper benefits, from a sketchy drug trafficker. Those players have either been suspended for five games, or are no longer with the program. The coach has been fired. And based on the way the department has acted so far, I assume that if anyone else comes up as guilty, the school with act swiftly with them as well. So with that said, what exactly is there to “make an example of?” Ohio State did an investigation, found some stuff, and the guilty were punished accordingly. What more do you want?
Beyond that, a lot of people are upset that it appears that Ohio State won’t be hit with the two worst sanctions a program can get, “Lack of Institutional Control,” and “Failure to Monitor.” To which I say, again, read the reports and understand them.
Why? Well, let’s start with Lack of Institutional Control, since that’s the worst punishment. It’s also what USC got hit with, and the Trojans case is the one most closely being compared to Ohio State's. Which it shouldn't be.
The reason being this: Remember that in the case of USC, it really was a "lack of institutional control." It wasn't one player, or even one team that was a problem, but the whole institituion. Don't forget that; things ran deeper than just Reggie Bush and the football program. Remember that the compliance staff was woefully understaffed. The school knowingly set Bush up with a “summer internship,” with a sports agency (No, for real, that actually happened). And it went beyond the football program. USC basketball coach Tim Floyd got caught paying cash to one of O.J. Mayo’s handlers. That folks, is lack of institutional control. Not what happened at Ohio State.
What about Failure to Monitor? Well, given that all the measures seemed to be in place (compliance meetings, player logs, and everything else), it seems like the school tried to do their best to monitor. Only one guy (Tressel), didn’t exactly make it easy for them to do so.
Just to be safe, let’s look at something straight from the NCAA, and right off the Pac-10’s website. It’s in regard to LOIC punishment, but something that seems to be very applicable for what happened at Ohio State.
An institution cannot be expected to control the actions of every individual who is in some way connected with its athletics program. The deliberate or inadvertent violation of a rule by an individual who is not in charge of compliance with rules that are violated will not be considered to be due to a lack of institutional control:
• if adequate compliance measures exist;
• if they are appropriately conveyed to those who need to be aware of them;
• if they are monitored to ensure that such measures are being followed;
To me, it seems like this little excerpt is a carbon copy of what was used in determining what happened at Ohio State. Again, a school can’t be expected to control the actions of every individual, and the school won’t be punished, as long as certain parameters were in place. Like they were at Ohio State.
Myth No. 5: Still, I Don’t Care What The Rule Book Says, Something Isn’t Right. Punish Ohio State!!
Please, just stop.
I’ve got a couple of additional thoughts on this, and they involve why I don’t believe that Ohio State should get crushed (ie: bowl bans, major scholarship reductions) by the NCAA.
The first is simple. Whenever the NCAA does one of these investigations, don’t we as fans always piss and moan, “Why are the current players the ones who are getting screwed, when someone else is the one who committed the violations?” I know that I say that all the time, and I’m sure you do too. Ultimately, isn’t it always someone who didn’t do the crime, stuck doing the time?
Well again, at Ohio State, the culprits have been punished up front. Tressel has been fired. Pryor has been banished to Camp Gruden. The other players are suspended for five games. Assuming nothing else comes out (which obviously isn’t out of the question), why are we going to punish everyone else beyond what’s happened? For what? To prove a point? Isn’t that everything that we always hate about these investigations?
The second thing is this: The NCAA has proven that time and again their punishments are based much more on what systems were in place to stop the rule breaking, and what actions have been taken to make sure they never happen again. Not how bad the actual crimes are themselves. Their approach is that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. In other words, you can teach a football coach and his players the rules and hammer them home. There’s no guarantee they’ll listen.
And to go back to USC, that, more than anything is why they got in big trouble. Yes what Reggie Bush did was bad, really bad. Same with O.J. Mayo. At the same time, the school was to blame too. They didn’t do a good enough job of trying to hold themselves accountable early on (Lack of compliance) and even after the investigation started, dragged their feet. Hell, the coach who was implicated for allegedly knowing about Bush’s transgressions (Todd McNair, which is questionable by the way), wasn’t fired until after the investigation was completed and the sanctions took effect. Tressel resigned way, way, WAY before that. As for the rest of compliance, the staff was in place. Even if the players and coach didn’t listen.
Look, in the end, maybe I’m naïve, and to a degree, I know I am. At the same time, I’m not one of these people who believes the NCAA picks and choose their punishments randomly, as much as they act within the parameters of the twisted, convoluted world they live in. Basically, blame the system, not those who enforce it.
Well in the case of Ohio State, if you believe the NCAA’s findings, then you’ve got a situation where the school tried to play things by the book, and the coach and a few knucklehead players wouldn’t let them. Is that a situation where the whole ship should sink? I think not (And granted, I feel the same way about USC. The kids there now, were hit way too hard).
Simply put, Ohio State did the best they could throughout most of this investigation. Yes, they could’ve acted quicker with Tressel, but they still got rid of him. And they punished all the other guilty parties accordingly.
Now, they should be allowed to move on. With sanctions yes, but not by having their program stripped to bare bones.
Nobody should be trying to make an example of out Ohio State’s football program.
Quite the opposite.
An example should be made of how the Athletics Department handled a really bad situation.
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i think Michigan fan be quite sad.
Listen, just because you're awful at sports doesn't mean Ohio State should suffer. The NCAA uses a different set of guidelines than that.
If they pay a penalty it will be because they lacked institutional control. Can you FATHOM that? They fired their coach. Is that not a price? Is the fact that Michigan is actually doing well in recruiting BECAUSE he was fired not price enough? I mean, get a grip. Ohio State will be REELING from this.
As for Pryor, he's not the institution. Neither is the Coach. In fact, you could argue that he did was ROGUE, outside the institution, and because of it he was fired.
Be happy if we get ONE Bowl ban.
In any event, when all is said and done we'll be atop the Big Ten in no time, and that's the part that really bothers you.
Facts are ,the NCAA said USC should have know and hammered them,the head coach was never implicated ,but in the OSU case the coach lied. THERE IS NO WAY THEY DONT DESERVE TO BE HAMMERED.
@NCAAinsidrGOLUM Oh, and USC was hit NOT JUST for football, but for basketball as well. In addition, they didn't cooperate. These are just facts. Don't let them get in the way of your argument.
@NCAAinsidrGOLUM It does not matter if it is the coach or a player that makes a mistake, it is how the SCHOOL responds that determines its penalties. You have been manipulated by ESPN into believing there is anything to this case. They did get Tressel fired, which I hope they rot in hell for, but we will not be hammered.
All of these attempted rebuttals fail the most basic of smell tests - that being, if there was nothing more there, why was Tressel fired and Pryor run out of town?
You've missed the point of the "attempted rebuttals" so I guess you will believe what you want to believe because that fits better with your previously held opinions of OSU. As they always say, "Don't let the facts (or lack thereof) get in the way of a good story."
Others are also finally cutting through the crap to reveal facts rather than fiction about OSU - too bad most folks don't care because its more fun to believe the scandal:
Thanks Aaron! If you want to know the real reason ESPN went off the rails on OSU look no further than the Big Ten Network. ESPN low-balled the Big Ten at their last negotiation and told them that if they did not sign then they were rolling the dice. Jim elaney, the Big Ten Commissioner, then responded "consider them rolled." The Big Ten Network now gives over $22 million dollars to each school every year. This has cost ESPN untold millions in profits and has acted as a model for future conferences, PAC 12, to follow. This will cost them additional riches.
ESPN's coverage of OSU has been nothing short of corporate thuggry and retribution for the BTN. The facts, as you outlined them, are easy to find, and yet ESPN continues to this day (Outside the Lines Sunday 8-7-11) to hammer OSU. Write a story on the tactics of ESPN and you and Dorhmann both will have a Pulitzer. Guaranteed!
I read the entire report, and right about the time he was asked why he didn't report, etc., i knew he wasn't being honest. the day that email was sent to tressel is the day he realized that the 2010 Nat'l Championship was over. he used the "worried" line and the "FBI" line as an excuse. it's clear as a bell if you read the report. with every word he spoke after they mentioned the email, and then the followup email regarding Posey, you can just tell he knew he'd never coach at ohio state again. those are just facts. i love the guy, but he realized his hands were tied, and tried to wiggle out. it's unfortunate, but it happened.
a smarter man doesn't email ANYTHING. he makes a phone call. not to say what the players did was right because it wasn't, but had cicero just CALLED tressel then this ridiculous tattoo things just goes away. players are punished after the fact for this coming season. that's what would have happened, and most of them probably leave for NFL after sugar bowl. but it didnt happen.
BUT if you do read the report, it's really hard to believe what Tressel is laying down in that meeting. He knew his fate was sealed, and when i read that report i was sad for him.
I'm a bit closer to the program than the average fan, meaning aware of the systems in place to comply. I am even personally familiar with some of the people involved administratively. It’s been horrible watching the undeserved repercussions take hold. Where are the pie throwers now that you need them?
Finally, finally conclusions are being drawn and written based on fact. Thank you and thanks again.
I think you raise a point towards the end of your article that needs more discussion. When you look at the individuals who break these rules, where is the punishment? Ohio State is setting Pryor up in such a way that he may or may not be eligible for the supplemental draft. If the NFL says he isn't the worse he'll need to do is sit out or play somewhere else for a year. Where is the punishment in that? Tressel has already lost a lucrative coaching job and any penalties against him will likely carry over to a new position that he takes. That seems appropriate. The players and coaches from USC seem to be doing just fine. I'm sure Reggie Bush will just be suffering this next year with the millions the Dolphins are going to pay him.
Do you think that more punishment should be put in place for these infractions? If players knew that being busted for a major rules violation like this meant they were banned from professional play for five years I'm pretty sure that would serve as more of a deterrent.
@DennisSage tressel could have reported what he knew, when he knew it, and we end up losing a shot at the national title. that's why he didn't do it. he ran the ship right, and the players effed him. knowing he did what was right he probably felt he didn't deserve this, and he didn't. but by not telling the AD what he knew, when he knew it, he sealed his own fate. life isn't always fair, and it wasn't fair to tressel, but if he DOES THE RIGHT THING, he's still the coach, and the cancerous Pryor is probably in the NFL.
I guess when you assume incorrectly in one direction, all of a sudden your assumptions become "fact" if you announce that you were wrong and then jump completely to the other side. You mention all these little nuggets from ESPN, the SI report and other sources and then attempt to wipe them away by using MORE assumptions. How do you not see that this is ridiculous? What makes Jim Tressel's explanation any more factual than the multiple unnamed sources? If you want to actually hold all things equal, shouldn't multiple people giving corresponding explanations on one side outweigh a single explanation (Tressel's) on the other? Why are you giving every single benefit of the doubt to one side? Did you happen to interview all these individuals to reach these conclusions? Or, more realistically, maybe you're simply trying to disprove half-truths by using half-truths of a different variety?
Here is what I know: 1) You quote portions of the NCAA report in defense of your arguments when there are additional unquoted sections that are in direct conflict. 2) Those same quoted portions you use to make deductions are in some cases out of context of the report. 3) It has been reported by a handful of media outlets that it appears OSU has at best a sympathizer and at worst a corroborator on the NCAA Infractions Committee. As of now this is mostly speculation, but if it proves to be true, we are all back at square one with regard to the "truth". 4) Your analysis is at best simply another summary opinion on the matter. Unfortunately, zero myths have been busted.
I'm sure this was cathartic for you to write and refreshing to read for OSU fans, but we are no closer to the truth than we were back in February. Even worse, with the way things are shaping up and the NCAA's lack of any real investigatory power, it doesn't look like we'll ever find out who truly was "in the know" or what exactly took place.
@Tesseract Hey, Tesseract-
Thanks for writing in, and presenting the opposing side of view. With that said, let me answer some of your questions. And I can't answer every single one, so please don't accuse me of "cherry picking," like I did with quotes/points for this article.
You asked me, "What makes Jim Tressel's explanation any more factual than multiple unnamed sources?" Well, let me ask you: Isn't that sentence contradictory in and of itself? Doesn't the fact that Tressel is being investigated by the NCAA, with lawyers present, under oath (if you want to call it that), make him a little more credible than a bunch of people who refused to share their names or show their faces?
You are telling me that I used portions of the report, and used them out of context. Ok, please give further details. I actually insist. Because honestly, I feel like I used the facts of the report to my own words into context, which is the opposite of what you're accusing me. I don't understand how discussing NCAA findings (which are the only "facts," we have right now), on how the program was monitored are "assumptions." Again, I'd love to hear how I've used the guidelines to my own advantage.You tell me that Ohio State has "best," a sympathizer, and at worst corroberator in the NCAA's office. Unless you're Gene Smith, Jim Tressel or work directly at the NCAA (in which case, shouldn't you be doing something WAY more important than reading my website?) aren't you the one making assumptions now? Because it seems like you are.Yes my article is just a summary of my opinion. I'm not arguing that. However, at least I used some facts to back it up. Where is the outrage when a CBS reporter calls for Failure to Monitor, without citing the report once. I've got to ask, do you want your journalism to fit your narrow window of what you want, or do you at least want a writer who actually cites documents, and tries to give a story it's due dilligence on both sides?Finally, this article wasn't cathartic in any way, and I didn't do it to appease Ohio State fans, or get them "on my side." SImply put, I have no "horse in this race," but I am upset that a lot of people who call themselves "journalists," clearly either didn't take the time to read the report, or then did, and decided that they were going to write what they wanted to anyway.I'm proud to say that I at least held myself somewhat accountable, and tried to present facts (and an NCAA report is as much "fact," as we have right now), and put them into their proper context.Hope that answers some of your questions, and hopefully opened up a further line of discussion.With that said, not only do I stand by everything I wrote, I'm damn proud of it. Unlike a lot of other people, I'm proud to say that I actually took time and weighed facts, rather than spitting out some column that I already had written ago weeks in my head.Thanks again for reading, and hopefully we can speak again soon, maybe this time about a little on the field football.Best,Aaron
USC had 31 rule violations, OSU had 5... yet most would believe Ohio State's situation was just as bad, if not worse, due to the media witch hunt.
You are incredibly naive. Read all 139 pages, Nevius of NCAA figures it out: he asks Tressel, at the end -- you say you didn't report to NCAA about the memorabilia-trading, which you knew was wrong , and you say you didn't bec you were so "frightened' about the "criminal" side of the story -- but you never did anything about reporting THAT either - why not? JT had zero answer. You're also naive to give credence ot the NCAA conclusions, drawn after at least nine months of JT covering-up and "tidying-up" of all facts and witnesses. it's called burying the facts, and prepping the witnesses.
-- Also, OSU finds out on Jan 13 about the Cicero emails, but waits til Feb 4 to report to NCAA! NCAA shows up then within 2 business days (interview is Tues Feb 8), they knwo it's important. So OSU does a leisurely 3 week delay between finding out about Cicero emails and taking any staetment from JT. PLENTY of time for JT to do more "burying" and covering up.
- Finally, bec you don't read the entire record, you don't knwo that NCAA sprints away from ANY finding of what the "circumstances" show (which is the only way to prove, in most cases, lack of inst control, or no atmosphere of compiance. Unlike any other adjudicating forum, they seem terrified at findings on circumstantial evidence. Only if there is a "smoking gun" (eg photo of B Pearl with recruits), will they generally find LOIC, or no AOC. This is primary #1 evidence that NCAA is a cabal meant to provide public with what they wil think is a true adjudication, when it's almost always a put up job. Phony fat cats, making millions, at the expense of the "talent." As Posey's mom said, "I look around, and everyone's going to the bank except my son."
@brewonsouthu To your first point of JT not reporting the criminal side of the story - a phone record search of JT's calls showed he called the FBI.
Another knuckle head hater you thinks he has all of the answers. Drop your bong buddy. The NCAA release was a strong cup of shut the #$@@ up to dingles like you. Go away!
>>The institution demonstrated that each fall and spring during the time of the violations, it provided education to football student-athletes and staff, regarding extra benefits and preferential treatment.<<
But this is also from the NCAA report- “Although the institution did not specifically provide education to football student-athletes regarding the sale of institutionally issued athletics awards, apparel and equipment until November 2009 (after many of the violations occurred), the enforcement staff did not believe that such omission rose to the level of a failure to monitor.”
huh? How is this not Failure to Monitor? Aaron, I think you are also guilty of selective reporting here, like many of the other sources.
@Gonzalez Gonzalez-Let me ask you this: You mention November 2009 as the time when the school first started talking about selling merchandise etc. But Jim Tressel didn't even find out HIMSELF until another six months later.
How is it Failure to Monitor, when they started education before the coach even found out?
I don't think I'm any more guilty of selective reporting as you are my friend.
Smith dismantled the previous system of written performance reviews (which had shown Tressel to have compliance problems) in favor of verbal reviews. How is that not failure to monitor? (eliminating paper trail, i.e.).
Very well put Aaron : the public needed a breakdown of the rules and regulations around the OSU sanctions! or just how the NCAA defines and excutes the rule book! Great job!
Great article Aaron! Finally someone who gets the real situation at OSU. Thank you for checking the facts before printing an article. The media in general has been appalling in the way they have acted towards OSU and treated Jim Tressel. ESPN has been the #1 vitrol spewing offender towards OSU since before this all started. I'm no expert about all this, but it seems the ESPN vile started in 2002 after we won the NC(by a bad call they say), then was magnified after we lost the 2006 NC to Florida(can't compete with SEC speed, remember?), and finally this incident magnified 20 times more than it really is(we're a bunch of cheaters). In other words they have it out for us. Why? Because we, at least currently, seem to be the flagship of the Big 10. What does that have to do with it? Three words - Big Ten Network. They see the BTN as a danger to their future incomes and will do anything to try to bring it down. I may sound like a crazy person, but just connect the dots, or in this case follow the money.
Aaron, don't sell yourself short. This piece of writing puts Dohrman's work to shame. It was certainly nice for this Buckeye to read something that was actually fact based!
Thank you Aaron! Finally someone who gets it and is not just spewing out pure hatred without KNOWING THE FACTS. That was quite refreshing.
To be clear, Im a die-hard Buckeye fan and I know (and agree) we will be punished. But for these people, mostly those with a "voice" on ESPN / SI, saying that OSU should be hammered and THEN, throwing hissy-fits when they find out we wont, is truly an embarrassment and shows how lazy some "journalists" are.
this is a really good article aaron, and i have to say i learned a lot. I think what happened is people read the SI report (which, in retrospect, exaggerated A LOT of details if we are to believe everything in the NCAA report) and got the impression that this was a rogue program that was letting players get away with anything and everything. I am guilty of overreacting - i called for gene smith's head, thinking the program was totally out of control. The SI report seemed to confirm everything smith said back in january about failing to educate the players properly, but based on the NCAA report he was clearly just saying that to protect his coach while he could. The truth is, as you said, a few rogue football players and one coach who made a dumb decision mucked up everything by doing everything they were explicitly instructed not to do and doing an amazing job of keeping it hidden from the compliance department. that's definitely not lack of control across the institution.
@arjun chandrasekhar Arjun-
As I mentioned repeatedly, I'm as guilty as anyone of rushing to assumptions. I too thought that for sure Gene Smith was out (which he may still be), and that the whole department would be overhauled. I even repeated many times that Luke Fickell should "enjoy this year," because whoever the next AD was, was going to disassociate himself with the Tressel era.
Which is why I felt the need to write this article. I have a very small voice, I'm not denying that. But it's important that someone, anyone actually report what the NCAA found, not use it as another excuse to bash the NCAA, and claim they were protecting Ohio State. I even saw a well-respected writer pen a very ill-informed piece about what an embarrassment it was that Mark Emmert didn't hit Ohio State with a Failure To Monitor charge. Honestly, I'm a UConn basketball fan, and I've lived through a Failure to Monitor with Jim Calhoun. What he did, and what happened at UConn in worse in that context than what happened at Ohio State. I'm not saying that overall everything was worse at UConn, because it probably wasn't. But again, at Ohio State, it's hard to really blame anyone besides Tressel and his players. Assuming it is, that you believe the NCAA's findings.
Either way, thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing. I just wish more writers had taken the time to learn the facts. Rather than using their space on major media outlets to push their own vendettas. Maybe I just haven't been in the business long enough to be jaded.
Aaron, I nearly cried when I read this as it was so refreshing to read an article that dealt with facts and not in innuendo and pre-determined narrative. Thank you for your honesty and the amount of hard work that clearly went into it Much apprecuated
@aaron_torres Amen AT! The crusade by ESPN and SI to burn OSU down to ashes has been appalling. I actually tweeted SI's Stewart Mandel and told him I was unfollowing him because of his obsession on Twitter with the OSU case while ignoring other investigations at UNC, Oregon, Auburn, and Ga. Tech. His response was some lame line that those cases were being tweeted about too, but definitely not with the fervor of OSU. What's going on at those schools is just as bad, if not worse, especially UNC. Sadly, your reasoned argument here still won't be enough for those who's agenda seems to be to bring down OSU at all costs.
As I mentioned in the article above, I'm as guilty as anyone of jumping to rash conclusions. One of them was when the findings first hit Friday, and everyone kept saying that it was a shame that the NCAA wasn't going to hit the Buckeyes harder. To which I ask, DID ANYONE READ THE REPORT?!?!?!
I'm not saying Ohio State should get off scot free, nor will they. But to use your own words, the program shouldn't be burned to the ground either.
Thanks for reading my man.
Aaron-Phenomenal article. I've sent it to many of my OSU friends and detractors. I've been sickened by the coverage of this whole mess, to the tune, that I just stopped listening to the media, including not watching ESPN and canceling my SI subscription.
I think this speaks to a larger issue in society and that is the unbelievable level of how uninformed people are, the bloodthirst for judgement and finally the conspiracy theories.
Many people in this country cant identify Germany or France on a blank map. They have virtually no idea how our government works and yet they all become experts when a situation like happened at Ohio State goes down.
In most cases, the simplest explanation is correct and that is what went down here. Tressel got put into a horrible situation by some bone-head players and decided to handle it his way. I have actually been in a couple similar, though obviously not as dangerous situations after 20 years in business and can completely understand his mindset. He knew this thing would go public and was willing to deal with that when it happened.
It still amazes me that people still do not understand Jim Tressel. He truly believes that there is a bigger mission than winning games. In this case that mission of protecting his players, no matter how bad they screwed him, and making sure they were safe, trumped running to the NCAA. He knew that would come in time...and probably knew it would either cost him his job or severely damage his reputation. He is that special of a man, leader and person. I dont know him personally, but I have met him and heard him speak in a small group setting.
The heart breaking thing about this whole deal is that OSU will be fine, but there are thousands of people, players, staff, friends, kids around the state of Ohio, parents in hospitals who will not benefit from the mentoring and guidance from coach Tressel.
In all honestly, he probably had a greater impact OFF the field than on it. Just ask all the families of servicemen, kids with cancer or horrible injuries, or fans who benefited from a card, hospital visit or phone call from coach.
I hope Tressel does coach again and I believe he will. But as Roger Sterling on the awesome show "Mad Men" said in an episode...."There is a deck chair somewhere with my name on it." Jim could do that and I would not blame him....but I don't think he will retire. He wont let it end like this and there is a school out there and fan base who has no idea what a gift they are getting.
@bucks2407 Yes. And like David Jones, I'm not an Ohio State homer, and so I actually don't buy the image, and never have.
MDahmus, did you read the transcript from Tressel's interview with the NCAA? They ask him about this. His response was that had he suspended the players prior to the year and/or reported the issue to the NCAA, the reason's for the suspensions would have become public, thereby in Tressels mind, possibly opening up the players to very serious reprisals from the drug dealers involved with the tattoo parlor. In the spring/summer/early fall, Tressel did not know the extent of how involved the players were.
He specifically mentions how relieved he was to finally find out that the players were not involved in trafficking and knew that NCAA would be coming to call.
He's not an idiot, I think he could have figured out that we would go 4-1 without those players...possibly 5-0.
This was always my central question and I didn't fully pull it together until I read the report. He didnt suspend them, because he didnt want to tip off Rife and his boys.
You can be cynical and believe its all about winning, but you are wrong. I've seen Tressel lose games out of loyalty to players. (See Michigan 2003.)
@mdahmus If Tressell didn't care about his players, Ted Ginn, Jr. goes back into the National Championship game. Probably the Bucks still lose, but it would have been a lot closer. But he cared about the individual's well-being and decided not to take a chance on aggravating an injury that might have hurt his ability to pursue a professional career.
@bucks2407 "It still amazes me that people still do not understand Jim Tressel. He truly believes that there is a bigger mission than winning games. In this case that mission of protecting his players, no matter how bad they screwed him, and making sure they were safe, trumped running to the NCAA."
That's a load of nonsense. If Tressel was more interested in protecting his players than winning games, he could have benched them himself - but then he wouldn't have won one or more of the games that got him to the Sugar Bowl (and, at the time, thought he needed to win those games to stay in the MNC hunt).