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ESPN Going Easy On Tressel, OSU? Uh, No

From across the SEC — and especially from Tennessee and Alabama — they pour in… emails telling me that ESPN isn’t going after Jim Tressel and Ohio State with the same gusto with which they pursued UT’s Bruce Pearl and/or Auburn’s Cam Newton.

But just to set the record straight, ESPN’s Pat Forde has now called for Tressel’s head on a plate.

ESPN’s Ivan Maisel has also made it clear that the writing is on the wall.

Meanwhile, former Buckeyes Kirk Herbstreit — video here — and Chris Spielman — video here — are showing some serious backbone, too.  The two ESPN analysts aren’t holding back in their assessment of the situation:
Spielman: “I’m a good friend of Jim Tressel’s and if my son’s ever good enough to play for Ohio State I want him to play for Jim Tressel.  That being said, I do believe his intention was to protect the players first and foremost.  However, he still lost sight of his contract and what he’s obligated to do. … I think he probably, if he had it all to do over again, (would) get up, grab the emails, walk 10 feet down the hall, take a left and hand them over to the compliance office.  Every college football coach is put in this situation on a daily basis and they are trained — according to the college football coaches that I’ve talked to — that anytime they get a phone call or email of player misconduct, they hand it over to compliance.  And that’s where he went wrong.  I think his intent was pure, but his actions justify the punishment that’s coming his way, in my opinion.”

Herbstreit: “The fact that he was vague or not forthcoming with information initially with the NCAA… I mean when you get into that area, that’s a danger zone when it comes to coaches and their involvement with the NCAA.  And there are countless examples of coaches — that when they’ve decided to do that — they are no longer staying onboard as the head coach. … It’s just a real black eye on the entire university.”
Considering those fellows played at OSU, those are some pretty strong comments.  And then there’s this from Herbstreit:
“The Ohio State fanbase, blindedly, are just supporting Ohio State and Jim Tressel.  I mean, it’s almost gotten to the point (where) he beats Michigan, he wins 10 games, he goes to BCS bowl games… they’ll support him no matter what he does, as far as the fanbase. … It goes to show you — when you win games and you win championships and you beat Michigan then a lot of fans… they’ll find a way and a reason to twist any kind of story to try to be pro-Ohio State.”
Hmmm.  Sounds like some Tennessee fans with Pearl, Auburn fans with Newton, Kentucky fans when it comes to questions regarding John Calipari’s reputation, etc, etc.

We all see things through our own lenses.  That’s why fans of School X never understand why anyone would ever dare question School X.

It’s also why many fans of School X always believe School Y is getting off easier than the ol’ School X did.

But in this case — if Ohio State is School Y — the Buckeyes and Tressel are getting wall-to-wall coverage just like Pearl and Newton, Tennessee and Auburn.  The only difference is Tressel’s case broke just two months ago.  Give it time and you’ll find that the national media won’t let up on OSU any more than it has let up on Auburn or did let up on Tennessee prior to Pearl’s dismissal.

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of ESPN.  As I’ve written previously, I think it’s dangerous for a network that own various leagues, bowls, and games to also act as the largest news source covering those leagues, bowls and games.  But in this instance, any objective viewer can see that the four-letter network is covering Ohio State just as it covered UT and AU… right down to the infamous timeline graphics.

A friend of mine from Cleveland emailed me last week to say how sick she is of ESPN’s non-stop, anti-OSU coverage.  I just smiled.  If she and other OSU fans could only hear how some folks outside of Ohio believe ESPN is actually going easy on their Buckeyes.

It’s all about perspective.

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Irony Bites Tennessee

Talk about ironic.  Just think about what’s going on in Knoxville today.

The majority of the Volunteer fanbase is outraged at the Tennessee administration for firing Bruce Pearl and not standing by him.  That’s not surprising because Pearl was hugely successful and popular.

But that viewpoint is also 180 degrees from the truth.

Tennessee didn’t stand by Pearl?  Please.  Tennessee stood by Pearl longer than other schools who’ve had coaches lie to the NCAA and attempt cover-ups. 

When Pearl’s transgressions came to light last September, UT was blistered by the national press for not dismissing him on the spot.  Vol athletic director Mike Hamilton was called a joke — and worse — for not showing Pearl the door.

While we pointed out at the time that coaches with equity have a chance to hang on to their jobs longer than others, the fact of the matter remains, of the last 20 people to be hit with “unethical conduct” charges by the NCAA, all were fired or forced to resign.  Thus the “show cause” bans each received.

But Tennessee went in the other direction.  They stood by Pearl.  When it was learned that he’d committed another violation and that he’d not informed his bosses of it… they continued to stand by him. 

Eventually, however, the heat got turned up too far.  The penalties for keeping a coach the NCAA viewed as unethical looked too nasty, too rough.  So the UT administration finally dismissed Pearl six months after the fact.

And now Hamilton is being called a joke again — this time for showing Pearl the door (even though it wasn’t his call) — and UT is being charged with not standing by its man.

How’s that for ironic?

Even more ironic — the Tennessee administration will take plenty of heat for trashing the Vol program… something that looks likely today.  Avoiding blame will be Pearl, the man who actually committed the small violations and then blew them up by attempting to throw the NCAA off the scent.

I’m all for second chances and here’s hoping Pearl gets one.  One screw-up shouldn’t define him any more than my screw-ups have defined me (or yours have defined you).  But to blame Tennessee for what’s about to happen to the program and to accuse the school of not standing by Pearl?  That’s lunacy.

Pearl got more support for a longer period of time than the last 20 folks to be charged with unethical conduct. 

And for those who want to scream, “What about Ohio State and Jim Tressel,” I say only this: Give it about seven months and let’s see if Tressel’s any more connected to OSU than Pearl is to Tennessee.

UT didn’t stand by Pearl?  Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

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Writer: Time For Ohio State To Join The SEC

David Climer of The Tennessean will ruffle a few feathers across the South today with his latest column: “Time for Ohio State to join SEC.”

Try this on for size:

Lying coach?


Cheating boosters?


Jock-sniffing president?


Fans in denial?


Yep, the Buckeyes will fit right in.  Welcome to our big, dysfunctional family of quarterback brokers and tree poisoners.

The word scathing comes to mind, no?  After blasting Jim Tressel, Bruce Pearl and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, Climer takes aim on Ohio State president Gordon Gee — the man who did away with Vandy’s athletic director post:

After a change of venue, Gee has seen the light.  He now realizes he is nothing but a lap dog to his football coach, at least as long as his football coach keeps winning Big Ten titles and going to BCS bowls.

That, of course, is the bottom line.  Tressel will survive because he wins.  He is bigger than the team, bigger than the university.

In other words, Jim Tressel and Ohio State are perfect for the SEC.

While we think Climer’s take is a tad over the top — for effect — we don’t see a lot things to argue with in his piece.  And that’s the problem.  Yes, there’s some faux rage in his column — again, we assume it’s for effect — but the truths at the base of his exaggerations are spot-on.

And that’s something to think about.

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Ohio State Players Know Nothing About Arkansas. Petrino, You Have Your Bulletin Board Material

Ken Gordon of The Columbus Dispatch has done a nice job of providing some bulletin board material for Bobby Petrino and his Arkansas Razorbacks.

Yesterday, the hometown paper of the Ohio State Buckeyes — the Hogs’ opponent in the Sugar Bowl — broke the news that no one on Jim Tressel’s squad knows a thing about the state of Arkansas.

The only famous person the players could come up with from Arkansas was golfer John Daly.  And they didn’t even know that Wal-Mart is based in Arkansas!

If you’re a coach looking to create an “insult” to motivate your team, the other guys admitting that they know nothing about your state is gold.

Some Buckeye players also admitted that they hadn’t had many chances to see the Arkansas football team play.  In fact, Gordon writes: “Even OSU coach Jim Tressel said he has not yet dived into video scouting, having just returned from recruiting trips.” 

Tressel said playing the Razorbacks would create “some novelty and excitement” for his team.

Now, there are no direct shots or insults in this piece.  No one mentioned rickets or inbreeding.  Having lived in Columbus for three years with my Kentucky/Tennessee/Carolina-influenced accent, I heard more than a few of those.

But flashforward to the bowels of the Superdome on January 4th…  Petrino stands before his team.

“Guys, this bunch doesn’t know a thing about you.  They didn’t watch you on TV.  They don’t care about your state.  You’re just a bunch of nobodies from down South to them.  Let’s go out there and educate ‘em on Arkansas football and the Southeastern Conference.”

Mark it down. 

(Click the headline for a closer look at that photo… used by us, not The Dispatch.)

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