Apparently, Ohio State needs NCAA help to get punishment right

by | CBSSports.com Senior Writer
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So Ohio State wants to vacate some wins. Well, isn't that special.

The Buckeyes just don't get it. They never have.

Ever since the school learned nine months after the fact that Ohio State coach Jim Tressel received an email about potential NCAA violations back in April 2010, the school has stumbled and bumbled every step of the way.

If the Buckeyes were this inept on the field, they never would have won the past six Big Ten Conference titles. Oh wait, that last title will be vacated. Big freakin' deal. Correction: It's only five Big Ten titles in the past six years.

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The Columbus Dispatch reported Friday that Ohio State is "embarrassed" and recommended to the NCAA that it vacate all of its wins from 2010 and that it doesn't deserve any further punishment.

Embarrassed? Ohio State was so "embarrassed" by the findings that Tressel lied and covered up NCAA violations that the school initially decided to suspend Tressel for all of two games against Akron and Toledo.

That would be laughable if it wasn't so pathetic. Only later did Tressel decide to take one for the team and volunteer to extend his suspension to five games, to match the length of time his players would be suspended. By the way, who will serve Terrelle's Pryor five-game suspension this fall?

Finally, weeks later, Tressel was asked to resign.

Sorry, but that's too little, too late.

This week and next, CBSSports.com is reporting on cheating in college football. Can programs win without breaking the rules? One thought is that cheating has increased because the NCAA punishments are not severe enough to deter schools from getting caught.

There is no fear in the punishment.

Ohio State certainly fits that profile. The head coach -- I guess this is the obligatory time to mention Ohio State's president Gordon Gee said he hoped he didn't get dismissed by Tressel -- knowingly played ineligible players, covered up NCAA violations and was not truthful or forthcoming about them. But, hey, did we mention he was 9-1 against Michigan? Gold pants for everybody!

Now Ohio State tells the NCAA everything is Tressel's fault. Cue sound of semitrailer backing up over Tressel's career.

Ohio State reported to the NCAA that it committed major violations, but says it should not face harsher punishment because no school official besides Tressel was aware of player violations, the Dispatch reported.

"The responsibility is upon Tressel," the school reported to the NCAA. "No other institutional personnel were aware" of the violations and Tressel failed in his obligation to report them. Ohio State says "The institution is embarrassed by the actions of Tressel."

That all sounds great and everything. I actually got teary-eyed reading it.

And I'll even go along that no one but Tressel knew -- well except for the Tressel's email buddies and the guilty players and their teammates and their buddies and their girlfriends and their girlfriends' friends and ... by the way, who in the heck in Columbus didn't know?

Anyway, fine, Ohio State wants to use that defense: Tressel was the only one who knew about the violations.

So then Ohio State has to answer one question: Why didn't the school fire Tressel the very nano-second it discovered all of his illegal activities? I'm still waiting.

It didn't. Instead, the school continually backed its coach and defended him. They kept spinning faster than the spokes on an (alleged steroid-fueled) Lance Armstrong bicycle.

The university also reported to the NCAA that it is a "repeat violator" of NCAA regulations but contends its "corrective and punitive actions are appropriate" and asks that the football program be spared additional punishment. It took the liberty of placing its football program on two years probation but believes it should not lose any scholarships or be banned from postseason play.

So as far as Ohio State is concerned, the only punishment the school deserves is to vacate some victories, return a Sugar Bowl trophy -- it still keeps all the BCS bowl riches, by the way -- reprint some media guides and change the number of wins in 2010 to a scarlet letter "O."

Maybe in August, the NCAA's Committee on Infractions finally helps Ohio State get it. The Buckeyes certainly haven't so far.

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