Ohio State is going down big time.
Coach Jim Tressel is out. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor is under investigation by both the school and the NCAA into receiving cars and extra benefits beyond the tattoos and selling Buckeye memorabilia. And who knows what’s going on with his reported mentor, a Pennsylvania businessman named Ted Sarniak. Pryor likely has played his last game for Ohio State.
Forget all the big names becoming the next Ohio State coach. The program is about to become toxic. If the NCAA has any backbone at all, it will hit the Buckeyes hard. Big names won’t want any part of this mess, which will extend well beyond the one-year interim coach status of Luke Fickell, who might end up being the permanent coach with a successful season.
Tressel lied multiple times to the NCAA, broke NCAA rules and his own Ohio State contract, and tried to cover up his players’ violations.
Players have been alleged to have received extra benefits that include deals for cars and the stench apparently reaches to the Ohio State compliance department.
Talk about lack of institutional control.
A Sports Illustrated article that appeared Monday night said that the practice of trading Ohio State memorabilia for tattoos had gone on at least since 2002 under Tressel and involved at least 28 players. It also detailed possible violations Tressel committed while an Ohio State assistant coach in the 1980s and while the head coach at Youngstown State (star quarterback Ray Isaac accepted improper benefits including cars).
Speaking of cars, the Sporting News reported that a Columbus, Ohio, car salesman sold more than 50 cars to Ohio State athletes and relatives in the last five years because the school’s compliance department directed them to him. A compliance department official denied it to the Columbus Dispatch. The car salesman said he had the phone records to prove it. Then Ohio State officials said the Dispatch screwed it up and then, oops, there were a bunch of phone calls with the salesman.
With all this going on, no wonder Tressel tried to cover it up.
In the end Tressel had to go, but that won’t be enough to avoid sanctions that could rock the Buckeye program worse than what has hit Indiana basketball.
The NCAA will likely look at Ohio State as a multiple offender. Former Buckeyes Maurice Clarett and Troy Smith were suspended by the NCAA for receiving money and other benefits from Boosters.
The death penalty is not in play. After seeing what it did to SMU in the 1987 (shutting down the football program devastated the athletics program and the university), NCAA officials won’t ever go that route again, but they will make a point of showing that no school, even one with the clout of Ohio State, can break the rules.
First thing up –- address the travesty that allowed Pryor and four other teammates to play in last year’s Sugar Bowl even though they’d broken NCAA rules. Ohio State should forfeit that victory over Arkansas.
Next should come a ban on postseason participation. It should be multiple years.
There needs to be scholarship reductions, recruiting restrictions and a cleaning house of the compliance department.
Don’t be surprised if at least athletic director Gene Smith soon joins Tressel in the ranks of the unemployed. In fact, the university will probably impose its own penalties to try to avoid nastier sanctions.
The NCAA will hit Tressel with a show cause penalty that almost certainly will end his college coaching career. Perhaps he moves on to the NFL (Kelvin Sampson became an NBA assistant at Milwaukee after devastating IU’s basketball program). Perhaps he starts a tattoo parlor. Coaching college football is over for a guy who won five national titles (one at Ohio State), and a ton of Big Ten championships and games (he was 106-22 in 10 years with the Buckeyes) in a 37-year career.
Yeah, you’ll read about Urban Meyer and Bo Pelini and others taking over after next season. Ain’t happening. Coaches have seen what Tom Crean has gone through at IU. Big names won’t want any part of that.
Tressel is done and Ohio State is going down big time.