Bumped - P
…Jim Tressel had a decision to make. His star QB, and perhaps the highest-profile recruit of the decade, was committing NCAA violations that would render him ineligible to play in at least several 2010 games.
But Tressel had some conflicts:
1. Ohio State was well-poised to make a NC run. They would be ranked #2 in the preseason poll, with a very winnable schedule. In addition to their standard lineup of OOC cupcakes, they would host Miami for the second game of the season…a game that Pryor would certainly miss if he was suspended for multiple games.
2. Terrell Pryor was one of the co-favorites to win the Heisman trophy in 2010. According to SI, “Pryor, Ingram among the best bets to make it to New York City in 2010”.
Tressel’s dilemma was very similar to the dilemma that USC might have faced in 2004-5 with Reggie Bush, if USC had known about Bush’s violations…suspend the player, or pursue a NC and a Heisman. While we can debate when and if USC knew about Reggie Bush, it is clear the NCAA COI treated USC as if they should have known and did know about it. And they hammered USC for not taking action. In Ohio State’s case, it’s not even a question whether tOSU knew about the violations. They did, and they (Tressel) turned a blind eye to them. They admitted as much. The only question that remains is how much of a break the NCAA will cut Ohio State because they, in comparison USC, were unsuccessful in achieving either a Heisman or a NC. Fact is, there should be no discount to the penalties at all…as the penalties should be based on the violations themselves, not what was achieved by the violations. And after all…tOSU went 12-1 with a BCS bowl win, largely because they did the exact thing that USC is alleged to have done.
The fact that Tressel failed to disclose his knowledge of the violations initially, and in December, 2010, can only lead to the conclusion that he never intended to report them. So I hardly see that Tressel coming clean now makes him smell any better. If not for the feds, this would still be buried deep. If not for the e-mails, his neglect of duty would remain his dark little secret. In no way should “confession” in the face of overwhelming evidence be construed as “cooperation” with the NCAA..
There are some who might say that tOSU deserves better than USC got because:
1. OSU self reported. While this is true, USC also self-reported, requesting the Pac-10 and NCAA to investigate before the Yahoo story broke. It should be noted that there is clear evidence that Tressel (tOSU) knew about the Tattoo 5 last spring. They had ample opportunity to “self report”, but did not do so. The story broke when the feds turned up the autographed items in the raid…not by tOSU self-reporting.
2. OSU self penalized (if you call it that), while USC did not. But they penalized Tressel only after there was indisputable evidence that he was guilty. In contrast, USC did not penalize Todd McNair. But USC was not allowed to interview or cross examine the only witness (Lloyd Lake) who provided any evidence against McNair. It should be noted that tOSU did not penalize Tressel in December 2010 on the assumption “he must have known” just as USC did not penalize McNair when there was no credible evidence against him. And between Tressel and McNair, only one of them has a prior history of misleading the NCAA.
3. OSU’s violations were not as bad as USC’s. In terms of magnitude of benefits, this is true (as far as we know). In terms of number of players. tOSU has unquestionably more players involved. And tOSU has not been subjected to an exhaustive investigation, yet. According to Antonio Pittman, “Cats been gettin hookups on tatts since back in 01." Furthermore, there is the issue of the multiple dealer cars that Pryor was driving. And finally, there is the issue of exactly what, if anything, that Tressel did with his information back in April of 2010. It is certainly possible that he confronted the players back then and told them to clean up their acts. If so, then the players should have reported to the NCAA in December, 2010 that their violations were known to tOSU as early as April, 2010. Is it possible that the players conspired with Tressel to keep the violations hidden? This needs to be determined.
4. USC’s violations were indicative of an institutional problem. Their compliance department was deficient. The same could be argued of tOSU, who lamented that their highest profile athletes were not aware of the rules regarding selling memorabilia and autographs, so that they could play them in the Sugar Bowl. As far as the institution is concerned, USC’s violations end at the level of a position coach, while tOSU’s go up to the HC, a coach with a prior history of misleading the NCAA, and who continues to enjoy the full support of administration.
5. OSU cooperated with the NCAA. Well...so did USC. Neither the NCAA or USC ever made a public statement about the level of USC's cooperation in the Bush investigation, except for the COI report...which states that USC cooperated. If USC had not coopoerated, then harsher penalties would have been justified, but this was not the case (according to the NCAA).
In summary, both schools could be accused of failing to detect and/or report violations of their highest profile players that would have negatively impacted a NC run and Heisman trophy race. Their primary benefit consisted of fielding player(s) who should have (at minimum) been suspended. Neither school is accused of recruiting violations or academic fraud. USC is not guilty of booster involvement, and this has yet to be determined in the tOSU case. tOSU did not achieve the degree of high profile success that USC did, though many schools would kill for what tOSU accomplished in 2010.
As a USC fan, I don’t want to see tOSU get hammered like USC did. I only wish that USC had been granted the “justice” that will very likely be handed to tOSU. Nobody expects tOSU to get docked 30 scholarships and get banned from two bowls. And I genuinely can’t understand how the two situations are that fundamentally different...except that one involves tOSU and one involves USC...which predicably will be the defining difference to the NCAA when they meet behind closed doors.