Concerning Jim Tressel

Pretend you are somebody else. But not for just a moment or for a prank. Pretend for years that you are somebody else. Can you do it? Former head football coach Jim Tressel did.

Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel resigned Monday after nearly 6 months of questions, suspensions, and suspicions. The final straw that finally got his employer, Ohio State, to pressure him enough to quit was the Sports Illustrated column that I just finished reading.

It is a damning document that paints Tressel as complicit in NCAA infractions, lying to keep the NCAA and Ohio State in the dark, and putting up a facade of ethical, even Christian behavior.

From the ESPN column by Pat Forde concerning Tressel:

"And now Tressel has been forced out of his dream job, one of the top five in America. If he's honest with himself, Tressel must wonder today how much easier life would have been if he'd just done the right thing when he got that first email warning him that his players were breaking the rules.

But this has been a lie-and-deny operation from the beginning, and now it ends with Jim Tressel's meticulously polished reputation in tatters."

Instead of heeding the Henry Kissenger maxim "whatever must be revealed eventually, should be revealed immediately," Tressel fell back on his fine, button-downed reputation and covered for his players.

More from Forde:
"When the revelations of sold memorabilia and comped tattoos from an alleged drug trafficker first came to light in December, this was all about the players who broke rules and scoffed at Ohio State traditions. Tressel, at that time, was the blindsided guardian of standards and scruples who was disappointed that his players would do such a thing.

What a charade that turned out to be. Tressel knew for months what his players had done, and hadn't told any of his supposed superiors at Ohio State. When emails made that clear in March -- when the coach was cornered -- the school lamely offered up a two-game suspension in 2011."

As bad as all this is, we've seen cheating coaches before, not to mention other boorish behavior from these guys who are supposed to be teaching young people. However, with the garden variety cheat, he doesn't usually make a show of being clean. He just tries to avoid getting caught. Tressel's not like that. He was selling honesty, Elmer Gantry-like, while he was watching the program rot. The troubling thing is his deliberate charade.

The sweater vest, the tie, the pressed shirt, the Bible reading and texting of Psalms. All of it designed to make outsiders think he was clean when he wasn't. It's the calculated deceit that really gets me, I guess. This dude is cold.

And, for me, it makes it hard to care about college sports very much. I thought I had an idea what they were about. Now, I'm doubting it.

No comments: