Posted on: October 5, 2011 1:35 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Ohio State president Gordon Gee addressed his beleagured athletic department in a statement this morning, and while his interpretation of the words he used isn't necessarily incorrect, it's certainly tone-deaf.
“We are the poster child for compliance," Gee said, "and whenever we discover a possible infraction, we resolve and report it to the NCAA, no matter how minor the violation. That’s what we have done here."
Now, the popular sentiment among writers thus far has been to remind Gee that "denial isn't just a river in Egypt," but I'd amend that slightly to "compliance isn't just a department in your office." It's one thing if Ohio State quickly and dutifully reports all the potential violations it hears about to the NCAA (though are we just going to pretend the Jim Tressel era never happened? Really? This soon?). That's what a compliance department ought to do.
If you want your athletic department to be the poster child for compliance, though, the correct way to go about that is to stop committing such an unholy amount of violations in the first place. That's what real compliance is, and on that front, Ohio State has failed miserably -- espectially relative to just about every other school in Division I. Where that systemic unusual frequency of individual failure comes from can be debated endlessly, but the point is that it's there, and as long as Ohio State keeps pretending there's no big problem the violations are going to keep happening.
My solution? An Ohio-wide media campaign called "STOP PAYING OUR PLAYERS IT DOESN'T END WELL FOR ANYBODY." Use Maurice Clarett and Terrelle Pryor in TV commercials to talk about how accepting improper benefits torpedoed their college careers right when they were getting good. But don't just go up there and tell people OSU's doing everything right. C'mon.
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Posted on: July 15, 2011 3:11 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 10:20 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Mike Leach's new book, Swing Your Sword, was released Thursday, and Leach's co-author on the book was famed scribe Bruce Feldman (The Meat Market, 'Cane Mutiny). Small problem: Feldman also writes for ESPN.com's Insider section, and that may prove to be something of an issue when Leach's book contains a litany of complaints against ESPN on-air personality Craig James for his role in getting Leach fired from Texas Tech.
And yet, according to reports, Feldman was given the green light to proceed with the book, and he never engaged in any promotion for the book before or after its release. Non-issue, then, right? Well, wait:
Such is the report from Sports by Brooks, anyway, and thus far there's been nothing to indicate the report isn't accurate. Feldman, who's normally a fairly active tweeter, has been silent since Wednesday on his ESPN-branded Twitter account @BFeldmanESPN, and no other ESPN personalities are commenting on the matter.
Just about everybody else in the world is commenting, however, and "Bruce Feldman" became a trending topic fairly quickly Thursday night on Twitter. Twitterers made use of the #freebruce hashtag early and often, especially after Sports Illustrated writer Andy Staples canceled his ESPN Insider subscription in protest:
Now, since ESPN hasn't released its side of this story yet, and since all we're working on is one report from one media outlet, it would be premature and assumptive to rake ESPN over the coals for this decision at this point. All reports indicate that Feldman was given the go-ahead to help write this book before the ugliness between ESPN and Leach. So if there was some amendment (whether explicit or tacit) to the arrangement after ESPN became directly involved, obviously, that would be relevant information that hasn't been released yet. We're all operating with limited information, and rather than build 1,500-word arguments based on assumptions that could be disproved by a single PR release before sunrise Friday, it's probably best to wait and learn more from the parties involved.
That all said, it's worth noting that, generally speaking, suspensions from organizations (whether sporting, media or otherwise) rarely improve the product being put out. Dez Bryant getting banned by the NCAA for the rest of his senior season didn't make Oklahoma State or the Big 12 any better or more entertaining, for example, to say nothing of what the NCAA lost when it wouldn't let Ohio State RB Maurice Clarett or USC WR Mike Williams get drafted or come back and play after their second seasons out of high school in 2004. Rules are rules, but taking talent off the field makes what happens on the field worse.
Obviously, that's not to say that all suspensions or other disciplinary actions are inherently bad -- discipline is important, and to keep the examples in college football, nobody would argue that Lawrence Phillips didn't spend enough time off the Nebraska squad after his domestic assault charge during the 1995 season. So yes, clearly, suspensions or firings/dismissals serve a well-needed purpose.
Yet, based on what we know now, Feldman didn't do anything wrong. He helped write a book that a whole lot of people really wanted to see written, and it wasn't even that one about ESPN itself that so many past and present ESPN employees gave testimony for -- under their own names, no less.
No, instead, ESPN is apparently degrading its PR standing (to say nothing of its paid Insider product, to which Feldman actually contributes) in order to punish Feldman and push this notion of ESPN as a faultless company that virtually zero of its consumers actually believe. It's extremely difficult to find a benefit to the company itself in this decision. The product is worse. The public perception is worse. The journalistic freedom within is now demonstrably worse. Exactly what is ESPN trying to accomplish here?
Posted on: May 14, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: May 14, 2011 2:03 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
But nothing indicates quitting is part of Tressel's thinking right now. And Gene Marsh, the former chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions who has been retained by Tressel in recent weeks, agreed with that sentiment in a brief interview with The Plain Dealer on Friday.
Which, in my opinion, is incredibly selfish of Tressel.
Posted on: May 7, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2011 1:06 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Over the last decade he's gone 106-22 with seven Big Ten titles and a national championship. Against Michigan, he's led his team to a 9-1 record, and has sent countless players from his school on to the NFL. All are wonderful accomplishments that make sure his name belongs beside the great Woody Hayes as one of the best football coaches in Ohio State history.
Unfortunately that name, Jim Tressel, will likely evoke some other images besides on field success years from now. Much like so many people remember Woody Hayes' name for the time he punched a player to put an end to his career, Jim Tressel's legacy could face the same kind of fate.
Now a lot of people will remember Tressel for his seeming lack of control or his flaunting the rules over the last year. First there were the revelations that Tressel's players had been selling and trading merchandise for discounts at a tattoo parlor, which was only made worse when we found out that Tressel knew about it months before Ohio State reported it to the NCAA.
That story, deservingly, put a huge target on Jim Tressel. It was a blatant and unacceptable skirting of the rules by the head coach. One, that if done by any other college football coach in the country without the accomplishments of Tressel, would have resulted in that coach being fired. But not at Ohio State where the school's president, E. Gordon Gee, was too busy making jokes about whether or not Tressel would fire him.
I don't think Gee or many others at Ohio State are still laughing.
Not with the story that broke on Saturday morning involving a couple of Columbus-area car dealerships, one salesman and a lot of Ohio State players and family members buying cars. Now, this isn't a situation that can be placed solely on the shoulders of Jim Tressel, but the entire compliance department of the Ohio State University. I mean, it's possible that the Committee on Infractions could find out that Ohio State players received discounts on numerous cars, and that Ohio State's compliance department approved of the purchases. That is the kind of thing that happens before the NCAA says those words that no school in this country ever wants to hear.
Lack of institutional control.
While it may not be fair to pin the blame for this latest Buckeye mishap squarely on Tressel's sweatervest, the fact is that right now, the best thing for Ohio State to do would be part ways with their head coach. He needs to go, and as I've already said, he already deserves to be fired for the way he handled "Tatgate."
There always has to be a fall guy. In sports, in business, in politics, in just about every walk of life. As the public face of Ohio State football, Tressel is that fall guy. This latest compliance disaster may not be his fault, but by firing Tressel, Ohio State could save itself some larger sanctions from the NCAA.
Make no mistake, there will be sanctions coming from the NCAA and the COI. If USC could be held responsible for Reggie Bush's car, then you have to think Ohio State will be as well. When the NCAA does get ready to come down on Ohio State, if it sees that Jim Tressel is still the head coach and has survived, it will look like Ohio State is sticking a certain finger in the air at the NCAA, the COI and college football in general.
From outside the NCAA perspective, the longer Tressel sticks in Columbus, the longer the media will continue digging into any other possible transgressions that may have taken place under Tressel's watch. As long as he is there, there will be media scrutiny, and as we've seen in recent months, the media has a tendency to be a better watchdog than the NCAA itself. And who knows what is left to be uncovered? Considering we first began hearing about questionable behavior at Ohio State under Tressel with Maurice Clarett in 2003, you'd be naive to think that these cars and those free tattoos were the only times that Buckeye football players possibly broke NCAA rules over the last eight years.
There are a lot of dark clouds over Columbus right now, and they won't be going anywhere for a while. Still, the sun is going to break through at some point, and the sooner Ohio State says goodbye to Jim Tressel, the sooner the sun will reappear.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 11:32 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:12 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This morning's latest story on the Jim Tressel brouhaha from the Columbus Dispatch answers a few pressing questions, such as: who was the infamous lawyer whose name was redacted in the publicly-released e-mails that Tressel elected not to forward to Buckeye compliance officials? Christopher T. Cicero , a former Buckeye walk-on who had formerly represented the tattoo parlor owner (Edward Rife) whose memorabilia purchases from (and tattoo discounts for) current Ohio State players kickstarted the entire mess.
The story also quotes an attorney with an NCAA- familiar law firm who answers the "could Tressel get tagged with a much longer suspension?" question with a hearty affirmative ("In those periods when he had an opportunity and a duty to disclose, he failed to do so," he said. "I think the NCAA could also come back and add failure to monitor or failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.") But the most chilling answer for Tressel supporters and Buckeye fans is what the Dispatch found in regards to past violators of NCAA bylaw 10.1, which prohibits coaches from withholding knowledge potential violations from the appropriate authorities (emphasis added):
Since 2006, the NCAA has sanctioned 27 schools for violating bylaw 10.1 ... Of the 12 coaches involved, only one kept his job . The others either resigned or were fired by their schools.Of course, most of those coaches didn't have their university presidents joking at press conferences that the coach had the power to fire him, as Gordon Gee did Tuesday. But all joking aside, that so few coaches have crossed the 10.1 line and lived to tell about it (even at OSU) illustrates why Tressel's future in Columbus is no laughing matter.