Posted by Adam Jacobi
Bob Stoops and Jim Tressel aren't so dissimilar, fashion senses aside. They're both from the Youngstown area of Ohio, they were both coaches of perennial powerhouses up until Memorial Day, and as such they've got plenty of experience with unsavory characters trying to give impermissible gifts to their star players. These things just happen from time to time.
The difference between the coaches from Oklahoma and Ohio State, then, is that Stoops still has a job, and Tressel doesn't -- and that's directly related to how the two men handled similar situations with benefits and star quarterbacks in their past. Tressel quite famously declined to inform anybody of potential eligibility issues for Terrelle Pryor, whereas Bob Stoops decided to address an issue involving QB Rhett Bomar more directly:
During the program, Stoops took questions from fans and was asked about the difference in the way Tressel handled the Terrelle Pryor allegations and the way Stoops handled Rhett Bomar's excessive benefits in 2006.
“Our conversation wasn't very long,” Stoops said of Bomar. Stoops said he confronted Bomar with the evidence that he had been paid by Big Red Sports & Imports for work not performed and told him, “You're not playing at Oklahoma.”
For a year, Bomar wondered?
“No, it's going to be forever,” Stoops said he said. “We'll move on. You can transfer.”
Said Stoops, “Our players are educated. They know. If you knowingly break the rules, we're going to move on. We'll find someone else to play quarterback.
Cold-blooded, to be sure, but Stoops' approach is correct: if any player knowingly does something that could affect his eligibility, that's an issue that could impact his entire team, and he's got to be made an example of.
Of course, it helps that Stoops had Paul Thompson, a senior QB-turned-WR-turned-QB, behind Bomar, and Sam Bradford calmly redshirting behind Thompson. And yes, Thompson wasn't great, but OU still went 9-4 with a trip to the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State. Stoops' career marched on without a hitch, and here we are today.And that's what makes Tressel's transgressions so infuriating. Yes, Terrelle Pryor is a unique talent and the main catalyst for success on that Buckeye offense, but this is Ohio State we're talking about. Joe Bauserman can quarterback that team to nine wins. Heck, Joe Biden can probably quarterback them to at least eight.
Moreover, Tressel's job wasn't exactly on the line coming into 2010. If anything, he was one of a few coaches in college football who had the political capital to punish his star player even more heavily than usual and take a couple extra losses as a result, just on the principle of the matter. He could have done that. He should have done that. Instead, Tressel punted on the Pryor issue several times, then went through with punishing and obligating Pryor and his teammates only after the issue became public. Then he lied about it. Why on earth did he think he needed to do that? It just doesn't make sense.