Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tressel Promises Michigan Will Suffer Defeat

If you haven't had your daily dose of hate for Ohio State, we've got you covered.

Apparently, some people don't consider Jim Tressel a disgrace.

Two days ago, the former Buckeye head coach met with 200 adoring fans at his house and reminded them of what's important: beating Michigan. "Don't forget: November 26th, we're going to kick their ass," he said.

Tressel had resigned on May 30 from the head coaching position at Ohio State. It came in response to recent turmoil at OSU, where Tressel had learned in April 2010 that quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four other Buckeyes traded team memorabilia (trophies, rings, jerseys, etc.) for tattoos and cash, and Tressel decided not to report it to his superiors, the compliance office, or the NCAA. A Yahoo! Sports article finally exposed Tressel.

The implications were severe: if Tressel knew that his players had broken NCAA rules, then they were ineligible to play. Yet Tressel decided to play them anyway. When the players were discovered to have committed infractions, Tressel claimed it was the first he'd heard of it. That was a lie. Tressel had actually received numerous emails in April 2010 informing him about the players and what they were doing. Tressel responded to the emails and said he would get right on it—but he never did. He allowed Pryor and the others to play, and it brought great success: they were instrumental in winning several games, especially the Sugar Bowl. Tressel had convinced the NCAA to allow those players to participate in the Sugar Bowl.

When Tressel got caught, he admitted guilt. Ohio State originally suspended him for two games (against Akron and Toledo) and fined him $250,000. There was great outcry from this; the punishment had been too soft. Tressel's suspension was increased to five games.

However, the trouble didn't go away. Though Ohio State's athletic department, particularly Athletic Director Gene Smith, claimed that this incident was isolated, it was starting to come out that Tressel had a history of looking the other way. It went back to Heisman trophy winner Troy Smith, Maurice Clarett, and even extended as far back as Tressel's tenure at Youngstown State before he became the Buckeye head coach. In an interview, Tressel's former player Ray Small admitted that many of the players took benefits from boosters and committed infractions. For the public, and even to some degree the fans of Ohio State, it was becoming increasingly difficult to believe that Tressel hadn't known about any of this when it happened. He had managed to avoid major penalties, which earned him the name "Sir Teflon." Nothing stuck. (That is, until he was finally exposed.)

He was also called "The Senator" by his supporters. That moniker proved to be all too appropriate, as Tressel was revealed to have his own skeletons in the closet and had committed crimes in the name of getting ahead—winning, beating the rivals.

Many people felt hurt and betrayed by Tressel. He had written and published a book called Life Promises for Success: Promises from God on Achieving Your Best. It focuses on prayer and morality. It also makes Tressel look like a shameless hypocrite. On ESPN and other sports news outlets, several Ohio State alumni were calling for Tressel to be fired or step down. This whole ordeal was becoming too damaging for the university.

Before this blog was started, I had a written a guest post for Maize and Blue Nation and predicted that, despite rumors, Tressel would never be fired. He was too valuable to maintaining Ohio State's recent winning streak over Michigan. It seemed like nothing else mattered to the Buckeyes, so I figured they'd never let him go.

The straw that broke the camel's back was likely the publishing of an anticipated article in Sports Illustrated, which detailed Tressel's misdeeds throughout his tenure as head coach. The evidence was hardly anything new, but it was extensive, and it was devastating. Tressel resigned the same day.

Including Tressel, every Ohio State football coach since World War II has left the program ignominiously.

Woody Hayes was fired for punching a player from Clemson, but Ohio State fans don't like to remember him for that. They prefer to remember the good times, his National Championships, his victories over Michigan, his hatred of Michigan. It is no different for Tressel.

You'd think Buckeye fans would despise Tressel for putting the program in such a bad position. The NCAA will likely vacate several of Ohio State's wins, if not entire seasons, because of Tressel's actions. Depending on how deep the investigation goes, things could become really bad for Ohio State. It might get worse for them than it did for USC or SMU.

Tressel chose not to apologize for letting the Buckeye faithful down. He sang songs with them and guaranteed that Michigan would lose. They cheered. That's exactly what they wanted to hear. Tressel knows that all too well: he made a similar prediction when he first took the head coaching job.

For Michigan fans, the appreciation that the Buckeyes have for Tressel is not surprising. He exits his tenure at Ohio State with a better winning percentage than Woody Hayes. (Personally, if I was a Buckeye, I'd be pissed at him, because of the chance that he may have won those games unfairly.) Brad over at Maize and Blue Nation has a particularly appropriate reaction. So does Dave at Maize n Brew.

Back in 2007, Michigan running back Mike Hart publicly stated that Michigan State is Michigan's "little brother." This infuriated MSU coach Mark Dantonio (himself a former assistant for Ohio State) as well as most Spartan fans. It also provided motivation for their team to beat Michigan.

Brady Hoke already has a quote from Dantonio posted in the Michigan locker room, which should infuriate and motivate the Wolverines. I hope he heard Tressel guarantee Ohio State's victory this year. I hope every Michigan Wolverine did. If it doesn't make you want to beat those Buckeyes, nothing will.

Watch out, Ohio State. Your days are numbered.

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