Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ohio State, Jim Tressel Get a Slap on the Wrist from the NCAA

The Ohio State Buckeyes and Jim Tressel quickly became the talk around the sports world late Tuesday afternoon.

Turns out, Tressel knew about his quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, and four other players selling merchandise eight months before the sale took place.

The university held a press conference on Tuesday evening to address the allegations as well as give Tressel a chance to tell his side of the story. What ended up happening was their head coach falling on the sword and taking full responsibility. He said he wasn't hiding anything from the NCAA or trying to purposely protect his players from any sort of punishment.

What could have happened and what ended up happening are two different things. The facts are what they are and no matter how much Ohio State fans argue and defend their head coach, they can't argue what's already on the table.

He withheld information, proven by emails exchanged between Tressel and an unnamed attorney who was working on the case against a tattoo shop owner. Information he could have easily shared with his athletic director but made a conscious choice to not do so.

But here's where I go from taking shots at Ohio State's head coach to calling out the NCAA for being as weak as they could possibly be.

If you don't think they've already taken sides, all you have to do is look at how they've handled the violations against Buckeye players and now the head coach.

The NCAA had gotten wind of Pryor and four other teammates selling everything from rings to their game jerseys for cash, it was the perfect storm against Ohio State. A chance for the governing body of collegiate athletics to come down hard on them.

Instead, they suspended the five players for the first five games of the 2011 season but still allowed all of them to play in the Sugar Bowl.

While five games isn't anything to sneeze at, it's who the Buckeyes play in those five games that has a lot of college football fans as well as the media fired up.

Four of the five games on the 2011 schedule come against Akron, Toledo, Miami, Colorado and Michigan State. Their road game against Miami could be the one single game that could bite Ohio State.

The rest couldn't be more meaningless.

Turns out, not suspending any of the Ohio State players for the Sugar Bowl saved the Buckeyes in a hard fought 31-26 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Was Ohio State getting preferential treatment?

How could the NCAA possibly look at themselves in the mirror and be ok with the decision they made regarding Pryor and the other four Ohio State players? Wouldn't suspending them for the bowl game be sending a bigger message?

While the NCAA has yet to make its decision against Tressel, it didn't stop Ohio State from making their own suggestion to the governing body about what they felt was fair.

The suggestion was nothing short of laughable.

They want to suspend their head coach for the first two games of the season and hit him with a $250,000 fine. Basically, they feel this is a non-story and their self imposed sanctions prove that.

Another slap on the wrist and another "don't ever do it again."

The NCAA needs to come down hard on Tressel and they need to show Ohio State that two games isn't enough.

No matter what Buckeye fans want to say about their head coach and no matter how many fans want to call this a "non story," they should not get past the fact the head coach withheld information he knew would land his players in hot water.

If they allow the self imposed two-game suspension to stand, it sets a dangerous precedence for years to come.

The NCAA needs to put a stop to this now and make sure head coaches can not and will not take issues into their own hands for no other reason than trying to protect their players.

Follow Todd Kaufmann @T_Kaufmann and National Football Authority @NFAuthority on Twitter

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