11 May 2011
On ESPN’s Big Ten Blog, Adam Rittenberg (whom I’m actually a fan of) answers emails from the fans on his “Mailblog”. It’s always entertaining stuff. Anyway this morning Lance from Bedford, PA poses the hypothetical of: what if Jim Tressel actually did do everything correct? What if Jim Tressel sent everything to compliance back in April? What if he undoubtedly did everything the NCAA and America could ever expect of him? This isn’t new. This is something we have all pondered.
Rittenberg answers that our players would have only gotten 4 games suspended like AJ Green and that Tressel, as well as OSU, wouldn’t be in the current predicament they are in which is realistic to presume.
But as I’m reading this from Adam, I’m thinking “But that’s not all”. Rittenberg is completely forgetting the media onslaught that would be reigning down upon Tressel, the players and the OSU program. It’s probably hard to imagine for writers at this stage. In their heads they’re probably thinking “If only Tressel would have done this we wouldn’t have to pile on him”. But when you go back in time, you wouldn’t have known an alternative future. So back in April 2010 when Jim Tressel hypothetically comes clean and the OSU Athletic Department self-reports, the headlines are still going to be damning of the OSU program. There are still going to be penalties. There is still going to be negative recruiting. And there will certainly still be more media scrutiny, investigations and exposes.
This bothers me. Because if that was the case, shouldn’t the headlines be “Jim Tressel honorably throws in the towel on the season by self-reporting a trivial violation”? But that’s not what would happen. The media gains nothing by celebrating morality. And Tressel has discovered this the hard way. We kicked Clarrett off the team and gained no positive press. We self-reported Troy Smith and were taken to the wood-shed. We suspended our starting QB (Bellisari) before the Michigan game. This OSU staff has self-reported more minor violations than any other NCAA University. And instead of being praised for it, Tressel’s program was heavily criticized. The media had every opportunity to credit that these minor violations were an example of the transparency of the program. But instead they used the opportunity to characterize OSU as one of the dirtiest programs in America.
Riddle me this NCAA and sports writers. With the current landscape of college athletics, that you have enabled, what motivation does any University or any coaches have to self-report? What do they have to possibly gain? Maybe not even gain anything, but just be left alone?
Lets look at the alternative. Auburn right now is enjoying their National Championship and Heisman trophy winner, off of an athlete that was kicked out of Florida for an academic impropriety and laptop theft as well as having his father auction this kid to the highest bidder. Cam Newton and Auburn get away with it under the veil of plausible deniability, which is highly in question. All the while the NCAA has egg on their face over being punked by Cam’s dad.
What is to stop every kid, coach and program to follow Auburn’s lead at this point? And when you self-report, keep in mind that every single penalty OSU is facing originated from self-reporting, you get destroyed by the media.
Today’s sports media kick people when they are down. And celebrate the people who get away with crimes. Look in the mirror Rittenberg and ESPN. This is who you are. This is the environment that you, your peers and the NCAA have manifested.
Tressel deserves his punishment. We’re not feeling sorry for him. But soon enough you, the sports media, are going to have to be held accountable for your irresponsibility.