The Tressel Mess

It pains me to say this, because I really do like Jim Tressel, but I think last night went very poorly for OSU and it will wear even worse with the passage of time. To wit:

  • the crack by Gordon Gee that he was happy Tressel didn’t fire him was absolutely bone-headed. I hope he regretted it the moment he said it because the last thing we needed was the president of the university reinforcing the idea that the head football coach runs the place. It was especially egregious, given that last night was supposed to be some kind of public reprimand.
  • the self-imposed punishment feels entirely inadequate to me. At a minimum, the optics of him serving 2 games while his players serve 5 is awful. Yes, the violations are different and potentially warrant different sanctions, but (a) Tressel should be held to a higher standard and (b) Tressel’s crimes are worse than the players IMO. I personally think the floor for the punishment should have been 5 games plus vacating all 2010 wins (with the possible exception of the Sugar Bowl).
  • part of the sanctions were a public apology from Tressel. I thought he was short on contrition last night. The opening stuff about contrasting the emails he got this time with the ones he gets for hospital visits and the like felt very self-serving to me. He didn’t use the word “sorry” or “apologize” in his remarks (he might have in response to a question) and the closest he came to actually apologizing came late with this bit:

I’m disappointed that this happened at all. I take my responsibility
for what we do at Ohio State seriously. And for the game of football.
And I plan to grow form this, and I’m sincerely saddened by the fact
that I let some people down and didn’t do things as well as I could
possibly do. I am pleased that the young people involved are safe.
They’re not involved in any criminal activity. They’re all in college
and they’re all going to graduate from Ohio State. To me thats what it’s
all about.

This should have come at the opening and should have been stronger.

The decision to allow the players involved to play in the Sugar Bowl was probably justified, but to many people it gave the impression that OSU was willing to trade ethics for victories. The knowledge of how Tressel acted at the time reinforces that impression. And my sense is that how the press conference itself played out is unfortunately more of the same.

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