Tressel Excuses Make No Sense

He's always portrayed himself as the most honest, straightforward guy in the business. He won, wore sweater vests, wrote books about ethical behavior and talked all the time about doing things the right way.

Jim Tressel is now a proven fraud.

The Ohio State coach could not have done worse in Tuesday night's news conference. His flimsy, feeble explanation of how and why he decided to ignore information that several of his players were selling their memorabilia defies description. Tressel never apologized, never acknowledged he made a mistake and never gave any credibility to his inaction that allowed ineligible players to play the entire 2010 football season.

How can he get away with it? Ohio State's paltry penalty of a $250,000 fine and suspension for two meaningless games makes Tennessee look firm and decisive in its handling of the Bruce Pearl situation. Pearl's violations pale in comparison to what Tressel is guilty of doing.

The Buckeyes head coach was told by a lawyer that his kids were doing things that would make them ineligible. He didn't tell the OSU President Gordon Gee. He didn't tell Athletic Director Gene Smith. He didn't tell the school's compliance officer. He kept quiet because he thought he had a chance to win the BCS Championship.

The excuse that Tressel offered – that he didn't want to interfere with a federal investigation – is ridiculous. No investigation exists in a vacuum and no player(s) should be allowed to participate in intercollegiate athletics when he/she/they are ineligible.

The NCAA hammered Dez Smith for lying. It has yet to rule on Bruce Pearl for his lying. But this is bigger than either of those situations. A head coach withheld evidence of his own players' misdeeds and allowed them to play. It's an act that would get most coaches fired. Tressel's punishment should be more severe than Pearl's and he had to miss half the conference season.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and the NCAA will be under intense scrutiny to see how they handle Tressel. They need to come down hard on him.


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