Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I'm Proud of You, Jim Tressel

I'm sad today. Rain is pouring down on central Ohio right now, the weather a reflection of the emotion many Buckeyes are feeling in their hearts. As you may have heard, our beloved football coach Jim Tressel failed to report that he received information about the tattoo scandal long before it came to light through a federal investigation. This is a major NCAA violation, and the school has suspended him for 2 games and fined him $250,000. While Ohio State will most certainly win those games (against Akron and Toledo), the suspension is a major blemish on an otherwise stellar career.

Jim Tressel is being suspended. This is sinking in. And it hurts. The national media, of course, is happy as can be. Mark Schlabach, writing on the Big Ten blog at ESPN, said this:
In 10 years as the Buckeyes' coach, Tressel has often showed us his teams can't win big games.

On Tuesday night, Tressel showed us he can't win the big news conferences, either.

Tressel, who has guided the Buckeyes to seven Big Ten titles and the 2002 BCS national championship, wanted us to believe that he was different from other successful head coaches.

From his character-based books to his conservative sweater vests, Tressel wanted us to believe that he's a straight shooter who follows the rules.

On Tuesday night, we learned Tressel isn't any different from a lot of coaches in college football. He's apparently more concerned about winning games and championships than following rules and doing things the right way.

In fact, Tressel might be even worse than other coaches who are corrupting college athletics. He won't admit he's wrong even after he has been caught.
Which coaches, exactly, is Jim Tressel worse than? Pete Carrol? Or Lane Kiffin? Who, Mr. Schlabach, are these coaches who stood in front of the media and said "I was wrong." Who took Because Tressel did that. So you can put down your stones and arrows.

Tressel didn't pass along some information. He broke the rules. He said he was scared for the safety of his players and didn't want to interfere in a federal investigation into the obviously dangerous man with whom these players were getting connected. I believe him. This is why:

Jim Tressel didn't throw Maurice Clarett into the garbage pile, like the national media would have liked him to. Instead, he stuck with him, long after his playing career was over. Maurice Clarett has been through hell and back, and the man who went there with him was Jim Tressel.

A friend of mine, an OSU alum, is dealing with some severe chronic pain. The other day she received a hand-written note from Jim Tressel (who doesn't know her at all) wishing her well in the midst of her pain. The joy this note brought was overwhelming.

Jim Tressel consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty. But no human being is perfectly consistent. He failed here, but he's not a failure; he's a man. And if, for that reason, he is deserving of the stones being flung at him today, then I suppose that those of you who have never sinned have every right to throw the first stone.

Tressel is being held accountable for what he did, more accountable than you or I. As an Ohio State fan, I sense that justice must be served, and that it is. I hope we are held to a higher standard than schools in other parts of the country. My football coach stood in front of the cameras and took his punishment. He didn't bolt for the NFL, he didn't leave his school in the lurch. He didn't deny it or downplay it. He owned it.

So I'm sad today, but I'm also proud. I'm proud of Jim Tressel. I'm proud of my school. I'm proud to be a Buckeye. Let's give the haters even more to whine about by going undefeated next year! Go Bucks!

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