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Story Archives: Tressel's resignation a reminder
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|Tressel's resignation a reminder|
Jim Tressel's resignation Monday as head football coach at Ohio State was a stark reminder that college football is out of control.
Tressel got into hot water at Ohio State when it was learned last year that five of his players – including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor – received cash and discounted tattoos from the owner of a tattoo parlor who was being investigated by the federal government in a drug-trafficking case. When word surfaced about Edward Rife's involvement with Ohio State ball players, the NCAA suspended the players in December for the first five games of the 2011 season. However, the NCAA allowed them to play in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans in January. Ohio State won that game in convincing fashion, 31-26, against the University of Arkansas.
In January as Ohio State prepared to appeal the five-game sanction of its players, investigators discovered Tressel knew about the tattoo parlor connection as early as April 2010. Up until that point, Tressel had denied he knew anything about it.
In March, Ohio State suspended Tressel for two games in the 2011 season, fined him $250,000, required him to publicly apologize for his program's mistakes and attend an NCAA compliance seminar. Ohio State later raised the suspension from two games to five.
Last week, Sports Illustrated reported Ohio State ball players had received cash and discounted tattoos as far back as 2002, or beginning in Tressel's second season at the university. According to SI, at least 28 players were involved – including nine current players.
The SI report apparently was a breaking point evidenced by Ohio State's reversal from steadfastly supporting Tressel to forcing his resignation earlier this week.
Tressel's resignation reminded us that even coaches who supposedly operate above board can become blinded from doing what's right because they're under enormous pressure to win. They're under enormous pressure to win because so much money is involved in college football these days. Television networks pay universities and their conferences millions of dollars to broadcast games. Alumni across the country fork over millions of dollars for season tickets and in donations to the athletic departments at their respective alma maters. Coaches are paid millions of dollars each year. They're paid that kind of money because alumni and fans want their schools to win. Moreover, the winning teams are the ones that are picked to play on television.
Lost in the shuffle are the young men who earn scholarships to play college football. Though they are awarded an opportunity to obtain a college education at a university's expense, they are not handed a paycheck to play like professionals. Think about it.
We suspect shenanigans will continue to plague college football for as long as universities benefit from their football programs. After all, there is a direct correlation between a university's enrollment and the success of its football team. LSU is an example of it. When the Bayou Bengals won the 2003 National Championship, applications for enrollment for the fall 2004 semester skyrocketed.
Yes, college coaches will continue to cut corners to win and college football programs will continue to get into trouble with the NCAA for as long as there are millions of dollars to be made from it.