More than a week after the Jim Tressel firing, the disappointment in Columbus caused by the situation has not subsided one bit.
The fall from grace for the former head coach was swift and painful. Only a year ago, the Buckeyes nation was basking in the glow of a Rose Bowl win and whispers of a national title contending team could be heard from coast to coast. The scarlet and gray were returning a load of starters and many in the national media pegged Ohio State to be playing for another shot at a BCS title.
Things didn’t work out that way, thanks to the Wisconsin Badgers, but they did get that SEC monkey off their back with a thrilling (although inherently corrupt) Sugar Bowl win down in New Orleans.
By then, we all knew about the discounted tattoos and selling of trinkets but figured that was going to be the end of it. Unfortunately, reporters smelled blood in the water and the incessant digging revealed just how deep this scandal went.
What I wouldn’t give to be back to that ignorant bliss I enjoyed last summer.
The first thing that bugs me about this whole situation is the long term effect that NCAA sanctions and penalties will have on players, students and fans that had nothing to do with any of these violations. I fully expect a bowl ban for at least next season to go along with a reduction in scholarships. Ohio St. will always be a brand name in the world of college football but there is no question our next few seasons could be hurt in the recruiting war.
No kid coming out of high school wants to play for a team that has no chance to appear on the big stage at the end of the season. That is just a fact. Sure there will be the handful of Ohio kids that grew up watching the bucks that will come to Columbus no matter the circumstances but the OSU name will take a huge hit on the national level. I can just picture opposing coaches in the living rooms of potential recruits lambasting the Ohio St. name. These sanctions will no doubt be the first words out of these guy’s mouths when trying to sway an impressionable youth to a different campus. I can’t blame them for it and there is nothing that Fickell or any other buckeye staff member can say to try and soften the blow. I cringe at the thought at losing 5 star guys to other schools because of this fact but know it is inevitable.
I know that there were numerous players involved in this scandal but one seems to pop up over and over. Does anybody out there think that Terrelle Pryor will ever play another down for Ohio St.? Even if he could, does anybody really want him involved with this great university anymore? I sure as hell don’t. The arrogance and self involvement with Mr. Pryor is disgusting. I remember a few summers back discussing Pryor’s recruitment with other fans and we all couldn’t wait for him to sing on the dotted line. He was a freak of an athlete and was supposed to be the one to take us back to the promise land. If I could page Marty McFly and punch myself in the face back then I wouldn’t hesitate to do so. We were all smitten with this kid and I feel partly responsible for creating the monster that stands before us today.
When he showed up to that team meeting in a brand new car with dealer tags on it, I had to rub my eyes a few times to make sure I was seeing straight. Is there anything else you need to know about him? The gall of that single act is staggering. Good riddance to you Pryor. I hope you can play receiver because nobody will be signing your paycheck as a quarterback at the next level. I could go on and on about this guy but I just threw up in my mouth a little bit so I’ll stop for the time being.
The third thing that gets at me is what this does to the fans. I know it is just a game and really doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things but Ohio St. football means a hell of a lot to me and most of this state. It is something that we can enjoy on fall Saturday’s to escape the daily grind of real life. It is what Ohioans identify with when to talking to folks from out of state. It is a way of life in this football crazed state and taking the competitive edge off of seasons to come is something that I can barely stand. Currently have a younger brother who is a freshman at the university along with a sister who is enrolling in the fall. Because of a few people’s greediness they won’t be able to enjoy watching the team fight for big ten championships and bowl games.
Sure there will still be games along the Olentangy on Saturday’s but the urgency and excitement of these games has been stolen from them. I am the ripe old age of 30 and have enjoyed the last decade of success but the younger generation of fans have been stripped of some of the things we all have taken for granted.
I am not sure what games this fall will feel like but I imagine it won’t be anything like the last ten years. That’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to all of us who support this team with blind allegiance and but up everything with that logo on it from the team shop. It’s just very sad in my opinion.
Finally, we come to the man who could have stopped the whole thing. Jim Tressel knew about these violations and didn’t forward the information to the correct people. It would have been bad if he had come forward right away but I bet he would still have a job. No doubt the Buckeyes would have had to play most of last season without many of their star players.
We probably wouldn’t have won the number of games and still would have that glaring 0-9 record against god’s conference. However, the university would still have most of its dignity and these seasons coming up wouldn’t have been affected. I can’t blame Tressel completely for sitting on this info though. A coach at a major university is under all kinds of stress to be successful.
Trying to babysit 100 people involved with the football program is impossible. Even though coaches are more than fairly compensated for this task, I still feel a little bit for these guys. I can’t even imagine trying to run a program that big. That being said, Tressel completely messed up and is paying the price. I wish him good luck but the coach had to go to begin the healing process. I hope his firing illustrates the universities stance on major violations to the NCAA. I guess we will just have to sit on pins and needles until August to find out.
This school’s good name has been drug through the mud over and over the past few months. I have every confidence that the program will emerge stronger and better for the experience but it is going to take time.
All we can do now is hope for the best in the NCAA hearing and begin to look forward to next season with Fickell at the helm. I can’t wait until fall practice starts and we can all finally talk about football again. Won’t that be refreshing?