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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Ohio State's actions signal deeper trouble


After careful examination of his conscience over the last 216 hours, Jim Tressel has decided to do the right thing.

Feel better? That solemn news conference that Ohio State staged nine days ago was apparently some kind of pregame show. That was the right thing then. This is the right thing for now. Check back in 15 minutes. Conviction is a moving target. The ground in Columbus is shifting so quickly who knows where the game-worn apparel market is going to end up?

At the initial news conference, it was announced that Jim Tressel would only miss two games. That's been upgraded to five. (AP)  
At the initial news conference, it was announced that Jim Tressel would only miss two games. That's been upgraded to five. (AP)  
C-bus, you are burning and you know it. You are a national headline, bordering on national punch line. You ran one of your own out of town. The football program is being run into the ground. That firm and just decision the school made on March 8 to suspend Tressel? Just a warmup, it turns out. Ohio State is becoming Do-Overs R' Us. At the same time it lost an appeal of the Buckeye Five suspensions Thursday, the school turned around and added three more games to Tress' suspension. At Tressel's request.

And we thought the days of a coach running the university were over. No sense in waiting for president Gordon Gee to make a ruling. He'll be the first one to blurt out, "I was afraid he would suspend me."

If you think these actions, in any way, mitigate the NCAA spanking awaiting Ohio State and Tressel, you've been smoking Brutus Buckeye's socks. In this game of Who Wants To Believe A Millionaire, the Ol' Stall Coach (at disclosing his e-mails) is running out of lifelines.

This was not closure. The NCAA door on this investigation has barely opened. Think bigger, more damaging penalties. The NCAA might start at five games and scholarships, recruiting visits, maybe yank Tressel's PC. That eliminates any tough decisions on which e-mails to report. Thursday added to the layer of muck. Ohio State just admitted to the world they didn't go far enough when the coach was suspended for two games.

Will the NCAA agree?

In the two biggest developments of this scandal, Tressel has tried to work the system in his favor. First, trading "promises" from the draft-eligible Buckeye Five so that they would return in 2011, in exchange for Sugar Bowl playing time. Then, on Thursday, staging some kind of non-violent revolution with his players against injustices by The Man.

Read his statement. Tressel couched his new suspension-on-steroids as a solidarity movement, "so that the players and I can handle the adversity together." Nevermind that the "adversity" was caused by the same coach and players who are facing it. Ohio State is making a potential institutional control charge from the NCAA look like Tressel's non-conference schedule.

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Manageable, bordering on easy.

By extending his suspension, Tressel must be starting to think bad thoughts. This could be the beginning of the end. Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton began to hint at the dead weight that Bruce Pearl has become for his basketball program and school. Hamilton said Wednesday "the jury is out" on Pearl's job security. The same, now, can be said of Tressel whether you Bucknuts want to believe it or not.

Urban Meyer might be wise to stay close to his cellie. The free-agent coach/TV analyst is currently unencumbered by employment in his chosen field. There are miles to drive on this road trip. The NCAA is around the next curve with radar.

Columbus, you are burning and you have to know it. In the past week it was revealed that ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit is moving to Nashville to get away from the Scarlet and Gray criticism of his work. This is a former Ohio State player, a good person and a fair commentator. Banishment came for a high-profile alum who apparently wasn't loyal enough. The only things missing were pitchforks and torches.

What about the outright critics -- without Ohio State degrees -- who dare tread on the negative side of this Buckeye saga in C-bus? The question must be asked: Is free speech dead in the city of Buckeyes?

David Teel of the Daily Press in Newport News, Va. had some interesting thoughts last week. He suggested that Ohio State AD Gene Smith had no business chairing the NCAA men's basketball committee. Not only was Teel right -- it showed, dramatically. Smith is one of my favorites, one of the top in his field. He has to be to manage the second-biggest athletic department (in revenue, next to Texas) in the country. But his explanation of the bracket over the last few days has been vacuous and sounded uninformed.

Three days into the tournament I still have no idea why VCU and UAB got in and Virginia Tech and Colorado were left out. Smith seems shaken. His current position is a sad commentary on the state of college athletics. The chairman of one of the NCAA's most powerful committees is also overseeing a burgeoning scandal at a Big Ten football factory.

"Until the NCAA has completed its investigation, we will not be publicly discussing the details of this case," Smith said in Thursday's statement.

That seems to be a good idea at the moment. The less people talking at Ohio State, the smarter everyone appears.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.

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