Posted on: July 5, 2011 1:56 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
As soon as the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Doug Lesmirises tweeted yesterday that his local suburban Columbus Fourth of July parade featured a "Tribute to Tressel" float, one flanked by some 20 parade marchers in Jim Tressel sweatervests, we knew that photos would surface eventually. And that they'd be, well, remarkable.
Sure enough, via Twitter user Michael Calo, here's our picture. And yes, I think this qualifies as "remarkable":
We'd question the wisdom of dressing children up to honor a man now synonymous with lying and deception just because he won some football games, but those children do look gosh-darned cute, don't they?
And this being Ohio, that wasn't the only Buckeye-themed parade entry on view this holiday. From Upper Arlington, also outside of Columbus, here's a photo (from @Bucknik of the OZone) showing a car advertising "Pryor's Tattoo and Gold X-Change." But the "Cash 4" gold pants poster is, really, the perfect touch here:
Now if we can find an audio recoding of whatever happened to be coming out of that megaphone, we'll be totally set.
Posted on: June 21, 2011 1:49 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Drip, drip, drip.
That's generally how news comes out about NCAA investigations at schools and it appears Oregon fans are finding that out all too well this week. Monday night Oregon released several documents to the media as part of open records requests stemming from the NCAA's investigation into the scouting service run by Will Lyles. The biggest nugget to come out of the documents was the fact that the university paid $25,000 for a scouting report that was two years old.
Lyles' "2011 National Package" was full of recruits from the 2009 class and had, among the notable names, SMU's junior starting quarterback Kyle Padron. In fact, none of the 140 players in the booklet Oregon turned over were identified as recruits in the class of 2011. Lyles has been connected to current Oregon running backs LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk and former running back Dontae Williams, all of whom are from Texas.
So what's next?
CBSSports.com Senior Writer Dennis Dodd, who is in Eugene this week, wrote Tuesday morning that it's hard for him to believe Oregon could be this dumb. After all, paying $25,000 for something that pales in comparison to any other national package and paying that amount for old and relatively useless information is something they can smell all the way in Indianapolis.
While most Oregon fans can admit that the entire episode seems shady, it's hard to see what NCAA bylaws the school broke in paying Lyles $25,000 for his recruiting service.
There are four main bylaws that govern scouting or recruiting services: 220.127.116.11 (school personnel can't consult or endorse services), 18.104.22.168 (services can distribute student-athletes information but can't be paid a fee based on placing them at a school), 22.214.171.124 (coaches can't watch off-campus video of athletes provided by services) and 13.14.3, which is the main definition of a recruiting or scouting service.
Oregon needs to be concerned about 126.96.36.199 and 13.14.3 (below):
Based on the documents turned over to the media by Oregon, Lyles' service he provided the school fails to fit (c) and (d) because he did not distribute reports at least four times per year and his geographical scope does not fit the definition of a national package. The "National" package Lyles sent was supposed to contain information on 22 states yet only contained information from five states and all but five players were from the state of Texas. A national package it was not.
According to George Schroeder of the Register-Guard, the media requested the video Lyles sent along but a school spokesman said 'Lyles delivered some video, but said the school had difficulty retrieving the video from its computer system, or separating it from video gathered by other means.'
While it is difficult to predict what the NCAA enforcement staff will do, it's very possible they will declare this an impermissible recruiting service. The staff could then argue that the $25,000 was - in essence - a payoff for delivering players and a violation of bylaw 188.8.131.52. This would place the players eligibility in question as well and could result in victories being vacated for playing ineligible players. It would also mean Oregon committed a major violation.
Oregon and the Ducks' coaching staff would certainly have to explain themselves (so far the university has issued a no comment). The Committee on Infractions would certainly want an explanation and would no doubt dare Chip Kelly and the compliance department to show how they could justify $25,000 for old information. Saying they were just defrauded by Lyles likely won't cut it and failure to answer the question truthfully or a failure to explain why they didn't raise the issue beforehand could result in a 10.1 violation for unethical conduct. Ask Jim Tressel and Ohio State what happens when they commit a 10.1 violation.
One BCS conference compliance officer told CBSSports.com that based on what they've read, "It doesn't look good but I won't predict how it plays out." Another said, "It's possible Oregon thought what they were doing was permissible but got it very wrong."
The school has not been issued a Notice of Inquiry, which marks the formal start of the investigation but the NCAA is certainly looking what has been going on in Eugene. Combined with an inquiry into the basketball program and the fact that Oregon coaches exchanged around 400 text messages and numerous phone calls with Lyles, things are starting to get very interesting.
No one knows how things might turn out for Oregon but there is cause for concern in Eugene.
Posted on: June 17, 2011 11:29 am
Edited on: June 17, 2011 12:02 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With Jim Tressel gone and the NCAA hammer seemingly poised to fall this August, it won't be a surprise if some recruits who signed in February with Ohio State have second thoughts.
And now the first of those signees has made those second thoughts official. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Pittsburgh-area linebacking prospect Ejuan Price has requested -- but has not yet received -- a release from his letter of intent.
Price's Woodland Hills (Pa.) High School coach George Novak told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Price "just didn't feel any stability there" in Columbus, even before Tressel resigned and Luke Fickell took over as the Buckeyes' interim coach. Per Novak, Price doesn't have any particular school in mind as his fallback destination, but he has "some ideas."
As far as losing recruits go -- and assuming the OSU administration grants the release, a likelihood but not a certainty -- the Buckeyes could have absorbed a bigger blow than this one. Price was just one of four linebackers in Ohio State's 2012 class, including five-star recruit Curtis Grant; as things stand today, the Buckeyes have much, much bigger problems on their plate.
But if Price's decision to leave the program is just the first of many, the Buckeyes will end up needing all the bodies they can get. And right now, it looks awfully unlikely Price will ever be one of them.
Posted on: June 13, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 12:18 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Part of Ohio State's school-imposed punishment for former head coach Jim Tressel was to attend an NCAA rules seminar this weekend in Tampa. The punishment was issued well before recent revelations regarding Tressel and former Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor, when both thought there was a chance of taking the field in 2011.
But after Tressel's resignation and Pryor's hasty exit, the former head coach opted to skip the rules seminar this weekend. Gene Marsh, Tressel's attorney for the upcoming meeting with the NCAA Committee on Infractions, told The Columbus Dispatch he understood why Tressel did not attend the seminar. Marsh pointed out that Tressel, who has done no interviews since his resignation, would likely draw unnecessary media attention to the event - which was meant for much more than Ohio State.
Also attending the seminar were Connecticut men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun and former Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez, among others. Because of the resignation, Tressel will not be obligated to attend Ohio State's meeting with the Committee on Infractions on Aug. 12. Marsh also told the Dispatch that he is unsure if Tressel will appear at the meeting.
Should the COI hold their meeting without Tressel, it could have an effect on where the blame is placed as the committee sorts through the details of the violations. Some have suggested that Tressel should be present in order to have a chance to defend himself, others believe that less emphasis on the former coach will lead to more blame placed on the university. One thing is for sure, if Tressel skips the COI meeting as well there will be a lot less questions answered and more speculation into the shady ongoings with the football program in Columbus.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 7:29 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 9:14 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
In a March 21, 2007 email to Tressel, which was provided to the Plain Dealer, a source gave the following warning about the alleged online activities of Talbott, a Columbus-based freelance photographer who also is involved in memorabilia sales:
The Dealer goes on to say that even though Ohio State and Jim Tressel had been warned about Talbott in 2007, that did not stop Talbott from receiving free tickets to eight games in 2008, though the names of the players who left the tickets were redacted from the record.
The second warning about Talbott to OSU came in the summer of 2009. Two employees of Scioto Reserve Golf Club contacted members of the athletic department after seeing Talbott and Pryor golfing together. One employee said he talked to an Ohio State assistant coach he knew socially, and was told the matter would be taken care of. Another employee, Regan Koivisto, the club's general manager, said he called the football office and detailed his concerns while talking to an administrative assistant.
So you'll begin to notice an alarming trend taking place at Ohio State under Jim Tressel. Tressel would be alerted about potential problems with his players and then do nothing about it. Despite the concerns about Talbott expressed to the school, that didn't stop Ohio State from allowing Talbott to work as a credentialed photographer at home games in 2009.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 12:22 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Resigning as head coach at Ohio State doesn't mean Jim Tressel will escape the fine the school gave him.
On Thursday Ohio State president Gordon Gee let the world know that Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor weren't the only people who had left the school in recent weeks, saying that the NCAA investigators who were around left Columbus a week ago. Of course, just because the investigators have left, that doesn't mean the investigation is over. As for Jim Tressel, just because he's no longer the head coach of Ohio State, that doesn't men he's allowed to stop paying for his mistakes.
While Tressel is no longer required to meet with the NCAA Committee on Infractions on August 12th, if he hopes to coach again on the college level, it's a move he should make. Still, that's a choice he's allowed to make. A choice he doesn't have, according to Gee, is whether or not he'll pay the $250,000 fine the school originally gave him -- along with the five-game suspension -- in an effort to ease any future punishment from the NCAA. Gee said on Thursday that Tressel will pay the fine, and the school said the details of the payment are still being worked out.
Which is a pretty big dent in Tressel's wallet, especially now that he won't have the regular income as Ohio State's head coach. So even though he won't have to deal with any penalties likely coming Ohio State's way in the future, Tressel will still feel hit in his bank account.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 9:49 am
Edited on: June 13, 2011 1:55 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
First Terrelle Pryor's lawyer threatened a lawsuit during an outraged radio interview, and now the photographer brought into question for paying Pryor for signed memorabilia has issued a denial of his own. Columbus photographer Dennis Talbott denied ever giving money to Pryor when speaking to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer on Thursday.
"They are potentially destroying people's lives," Talbott said in a phone interview. "It's not true. I haven't given him a dollar. I haven't given him anything perceived as an improper benefit."
In the damning anonymous interview on ESPN's Outside the Lines, a former friend of Pryor suggested that as many as 35 to 40 payments were made by Talbott for memorabilia, with the total earned ranging anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000. The website Sports By Brooks ran their own investigation on Talbott, collecting a series of photos and screen shots which suggest Talbott has not only been using an eBay name, "infickelwetrust," to sell autographed and game-used items from Ohio State football players, but also has been operating a side business - Varsity O Memorabilia, to sell signed memorabilia. Photos from Varsity O's Facebook page show items being signed/signed by A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Beanie Wells, Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Maurice Wells, Mike D'Andrea, Troy Smith, Quinn Pitcock, and former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel.
Talbott tried to tell the Plain-Dealer that he doesn't "have the wherewithal" to shell out the kind of money reported in the Outside the Lines piece. If Talbott, 40, has been running this multiple organization operation he should surely have the cash to arrange these payments. As far as the "infickelwetrust" eBay account, by Wednesday night the account had been deleted and all of the items had been removed.
Another case of he said-she said in Columbus, as the scandal slowly unravels and reveals a community - not just a coach - embracing ignorance in order to experience immediate success and gratification.
Posted on: June 9, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:41 am
It's fitting that Jim Tressel's nickname was The Senator. In Columbus and around the rest of the nation, that nickname was used as unironic praise, a testament to the Ohio State coach's maturity, open faith, and businesslike approach to running his football program. The name stuck because it fit. It also stuck because people conveniently forgot that Congress is and always has been one of the most reviled institutions in American history, one whose abysmal approval ratings are fueled by an institutional history of corruption, hypocrisy, and mistruths. Oh, Jim Tressel is a senator, all right. People just didn't really know it.
Back in 2010, Senator Tressel made the grave error of placing his players, his program, and himself above the law of the NCAA, and that's why we're here today (here's the full timeline). He found out that QB Terrelle Pryor and several teammates had been receiving impermissible benefits back in April, and hid the evidence from his athletic department. Astonishingly, there isn't a guarantee that the compliance department would have punished Pryor or would have withheld him from the 2010 season; after all, the department ordered memorabilia dealer (and purported Pryor payer) Dennis Talbott away from the program during the season, but Pryor was allowed to remain eligibile.
So now, not only is Tressel out of a job and likely facing a mammoth punishment from the NCAA -- not an ideal situation for a newly unemployed, 58-year-old coach to find himself in, to say the least -- but Pryor is gone from the program now as well, right on the heels of a major NCAA investigation into his relationship with several prominent Columbus figures, and there's even been some speculation that AD Gene Smith's job is on the line too, along with president Gordon Gee.
There's also a distinct possibility that the NCAA forces Ohio State to vacate some or all of the 2010 season's victories. Tressel knowingly used several players who, under NCAA statutes, were ineligible to play. And if the NCAA does indeed come down hard and takes away the 31-26 Sugar Bowl victory -- the bowl for which the "Buckeye Five" had controversially been allowed special eligibility -- oh, how the cackles of glee will ring forth from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and throughout the rest of the Southeast. The one thing OSU had been able to hang its hat on from the 2010 season that it never could before is that elusive bowl win over the SEC. It's one thing for Arkansas fans to claim that the Buckeyes only got that win by cheating, after all; it's another for the NCAA to agree with them.
Still, it's worth reiterating that since the NCAA investigation is ongoing, it's impossible to know precisely how the story ends just yet. With Tressel and Pryor both gone from Columbus and thus no longer obligated to comply with the NCAA investigation -- though if Tressel ever wants to coach in the NCAA again, complying would be a wise idea -- the NCAA doesn't have as much to work with. That's not to say OSU's going to get off easy, though, since the NCAA probably has enough to justify significant penalties. How bad we're talking here remains to be seen.
As far as on the field goes, 2011 might be a little rough. Luke Fickell is the interim coach for now, and while there's probably a reason why Jim Tressel had named the 37-year-old his assistant head coach back in March, there's virtually no chance that Fickell has the gameday coaching chops, players' respect, or recruiting skill that Tressel had. No first-year head coaches do, for that matter. Fickell's going to have to make sure all hell doesn't break loose on that roster, keep as many recruits in the fold as possible, and also try to keep the team motivated for 2011 even if Ohio State receives some sort of postseason ban (an apt possible punishment, considering the strings pulled to keep Pryor and everyone else eligible for the game).
Meanwhile, under center, the loss of Terrelle Pryor could be disastrous. The long-running joke in Columbus was that the depth chart had been "Pryor and Prayer," and now Buckeye fans will have to prostrate themselves in front of the football gods in search of mercy. Left on the depth chart are four quarterbacks whose benefits scarcely outweigh their drawbacks at this point, and it's unlikely that any of them will be given a long leash in 2011 until a clear No. 1 QB emerges. Braxton Miller has the highest upside, but the kid is 18. Joe Bauserman was the backup last season, but he might not actually be any good -- and he's already 26. Neither Kenny Guiton nor Taylor Graham seems ready to start yet. Yes, this motley crew was going to have to take care of the offense for the first five games no matter what after Pryor was initially suspended by the team, but now there's no cavalry coming -- and Big Ten defensive coordinators know it.
The biggest consequence of Ohio State's fall from glory, though, might have nothing to do with Ohio State itself. Now, every compliance department is under increased scrutiny, whether from outside media sources or from within the program. There's no shortage of secretly terrified athletic directors who look at what's happening in Columbus and now have to double-check that their own athletic departments are actually on the up-and-up or if there's the possibility of serious malfeasance. Colt McCoy's wife gave the city of Austin a collective minor heart attack when she went on the radio and described the uphill battle Texas' compliance office faces, but she stopped short of actually saying any violations had ever occurred. Is that because none had occurred, or she just knew better than to publicly admit anything? That's the type of million-dollar question every major football program faces now, thanks to Tressel and Ohio State.
And yet, regardless of what happens from here on out, the fall of Ohio State is still going to be an endless topic of debate in the 2011 season -- just as it has been already. Everyone's got an opinion on Tressel, and everyone's going to have an opinion on what the NCAA ends up doing to the Buckeyes. Once football season rolls around, all it'll take is one "how about this Ohio State situation" from a play-by-play announcer, and all of a sudden the guys in the booth have something to talk about for the rest of the fourth quarter of some inconsequential September blowout. Most of the opinions aren't exactly going to be positive, though Tressel will probably remain something of a sympathetic figure among the talking heads. He is not a crook, they will say, and they will be correct. Tressel is not a crook. He is a senator, and one whose senatorial hubris brought down his entire football program. Other powerhouses should take heed.