Jim Tressel is not Bruce Pearl

Written March 22nd, 2011 by MaliBuckeye
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Both a good source of vitamins. Other than that, not the same

To be clear, we have our biases here at tBBC. We wear scarlet and gray colored glasses, to be sure, and even with that we’re disappointed by all of the events that have transpired regarding “Tattoogate” or “The Tress Mess” or whatever you want to call it.

We know that Jim Tressel has violated NCAA regulations, and that he should be held accountable for this. We would also not be surprised to see the NCAA extend the five game suspension in addition to other consequences for his decisions, and we will at that time argue whether the sanctions are justified, too lax, or too stringent.

However, to say as the Orlando Sentinel did today, that Jim Tressel’s firing is imminent is speculation based on faulty logic and (in my opinion) lazy journalism.

The line of thinking goes like this: Jim Tressel is currently under investigation for a violation of Rule 10.1 for unethical conduct, and has been suspended for part of the upcoming season.  Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl is also under investigation for a 10.1 violation and was also suspended for part of this past season, and was yesterday fired by the University of Tennessee. Therefore, Jim Tressel will also be fired.

I’m sorry, but it’s not that simple.

First, it should be noted that the violations under critique are significantly different based mostly on the magnitude. For Jim Tressel, the investigation and consequences are centering on the following:

  • In April, he received notification that several players might be involved in a NCAA violation, selling their property to an outside party, which is an illegal benefit.
  • He did not report this potential issue to the Ohio State Compliance office, the Office of General Council, or the Athletic Director at any time from April through September.
  • In September, he (like all NCAA employees and student athletes) signed documentation to indicate that he had no knowledge of any violations of NCAA policy, in spite of the knowledge mentioned above.
  • Throughout the 2010 season Coach Tressel allows players to play that may have been ineligible due to potential violations that he was aware of.
  • In December, the University is made aware of the situation that Tressel was informed about in April, and suspends the players involved. During the University investigation, it’s safe to assume that Coach Tressel did not come forward with his prior knowledge.
  • The NCAA suspends the student athletes involved for parts of the 2011 season, after letting them play in the Sugar Bowl.
  • In January, the University is made aware of Coach Tressel’s knowledge of the situation and begins working with the NCAA to respond appropriately.  The University chooses to suspend Coach Tressel, first for two games and ultimately for five, while the NCAA investigation continues.
  • The NCAA has not set a timeline for this matter to be concluded, although many speculate that it will wrap up some time this summer.

Again, these are egregious violations- at surface level, it appears that Coach Tressel is responsible for his a) initial failure to disclose, b) failure to disclose in September, c) allowing participation of ineligible athletes, and d) failure to disclose in December.  Whether the NCAA chooses to see these as one violation or several separate ones is yet to be determined.

The facts of the Pearl situation are, as far as I can gather, these:

Given this, it’s possible to see several differences between the two situations. First, Coach Pearl’s falsehoods were direct lies to NCAA investigators about a situation that he himself facilitated.  He broke a rule, encouraged potential student athletes and their families to be dishonest about it, and was not honest to the NCAA staff when asked directly.

This is not an attempt to excuse Jim Tressel’s behavior; but like it or not, there is a difference between breaking a rule and blatantly lying to cover it up and not being forthright. Both are egregious and should be dealt with firmly, particularly if college sports is a part of a University who hopes to shape young adults for the future.

But what should be kept in mind here when thinking about the University of Tennessee’s decision to fire Coach Pearl is that there are a number of other factors at play. First, there are the additional recruiting violations (improper phone calls, improper contact, improper guest priveledges at University events), several of which happened after the University thought they had addressed this issue with Coach Pearl. Second, there might have been concerns about other issues within the basketball program (ESPN alludes to potential substance usage issues, and there was a New Years Eve arrest in 2010). Third, Coach Pearl has a couple of violations in his past- nothing significant, but they are still present.

A final factor, and a significant difference between these two circumstances in my opinion, is the ongoing NCAA investigation into the Tennessee Athletic Department.  Former coach Lane Kiffin has already been reprimanded for failure to monitor his staff, and there are questions surrounding the University’s use of hostesses in recruiting that have emerged following a 22 month investigation by the NCAA.  It’s quite possible, given this climate and the factors mentioned above, that the University is seeking to “clean house” in order to put their best foot forward for the NCAA. Firing Coach Pearl might have been one additional aspect of that process.

In contrast, The Ohio State University’s athletic department is not currently under investigation by the NCAA. And, while players in Coach Tressel’s programs in the past have been sanctioned, at no time was he.

The situations and circumstances between these two matters are vastly different if you’re willing to move past the easy thoughts of fans and commentators. Again, both men should be held accountable by their institutions and the NCAA for their actions.

But to judge one institution’s response to an incident based on another institution’s decision to act on a longer pattern of behavior is simply a mistake.

49 Comments

  1. Jeff at The BBCNo Gravatar
    March 22nd, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Mali, I’ve told you before. Using logic in a post that involves a team from the SEC is useless.

    They don’t understand it.

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  2. KenNo Gravatar
    March 22nd, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Mali, nice explanation, thank you. I like your choice of graphics with Scarlet apples and TN oranges. Well played.

    Based on this, no question that BP’s actions were more egregious. I can only image recruits’ and parents’ reaction to BP telling them not to mention they were at his home… No wonder Aaron Craft (allegedly) blew him in.

    On a related note, with everything going on, I am truly happy and grateful that Tressel and Matta are our coaches.

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  3. David BellNo Gravatar
    March 22nd, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Whether or not the offenses were the same or not doesn’t really interest me. Suffice it to say that unless the NCAA starts giving out SEVERE punishments to the offenders, these kinds of actions will still occur. Spare the rod and spoil the athletes and coaches!

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  4. BrianNo Gravatar
    March 22nd, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    So, since an SEC school had a basketball coach (who was fired yesterday) go awry, and a former football coach receive a reprimand, the NCAA and the general public should just thank your football coach for dressing so spiffy? I guess Tennessee’s 2 for 1 special on infractions trump this little indiscretion? Your coach should be celebrated for goofing up something so trivial as notifying the NCAA and the university of serious violations that would have rendered significant contributors to the football team ineligible for the season? How could he be expected to disclose something that would damage the Buckeyes season, and BCS Bowl bid? That makes a lot of sense….

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    March 22nd, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I’m not sure how we could have been any clearer. What has happened is a violation of the NCAA’s guidelines, and we expect the NCAA to deal with this as severely as is appropriate.

    However, to attempt to correlate this with another situation that is only nominally similar is misguided.

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  5. ErictBBCNo Gravatar
    March 22nd, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    That was weird.

    I’m at a conference in Dallas and just came out of a talk that used that exact picture of apples and oranges.

    Definitely not what I expected when I pulled up tBBC afterwards!

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  6. SushiNo Gravatar
    March 22nd, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Ha! You’re on the Kool-Aid. Same as TN boys. Your time will come.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    March 22nd, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Which Kool-Aid would that be? Apple flavored or Orange flavored?

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    Jeff at The BBCNo Gravatar
    March 22nd, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I see what you did there.

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  7. J-BirdNo Gravatar
    March 22nd, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Journalism has been a fraud, and it was fully realized in 2008, “journalists” are nothing more but partisan hacks these days, in the mainstream media, and a lot of the sports media.
    The guys tBBC are the real deal — these jerks at the Orlando Sentinel are a joke.

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    JimNo Gravatar
    March 22nd, 2011 at 7:23 pm

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    ErictBBCNo Gravatar
    March 22nd, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Thanks J-Bird. We keep rolling thanks to readers like you!

    [Reply]

  8. MoNo Gravatar
    March 22nd, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Can’t freaking believe Tressel has to sit out five games just because didn’t forward some emails.

    Its tatoos! Not like we are paying for players….

    NCAA just wants to make an example out of Ohio State.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    March 23rd, 2011 at 12:41 am

    I hear your frustration, but thems the rules.

    We should have been complaining about the justice of all of this when AJ Green got 4 games for selling his jersey, while Marcel Dareus only got two for going to an agent’s party (about twice the cost of Green’s indiscretion).

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  9. Lurking_MichaelNo Gravatar
    March 23rd, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Mali,

    One of the things I looked forward to most after reading your excellent post was seeing people completely miss your point and respond as Brian and Sushi have. Once again, humanity fails to disappoint in being disappointing.

    I have been dealing with a yahoo parent on my daughter’s soccer team for the last couple of weeks over this issue. Some people miss the fact that we aren’t excusing Tressel for breaking the rules and that we aren’t calling for zero punishment. We do acknowledge that he did something wrong and we acknowledge that punishment is appropriate. Yet, we also know that every coach who has been fired for violating rule 10.1 has violated OTHER infractions (usually numerous ones) besides 10.1. As far as anyone can ascertain in this case, it is solely 10.1 in play here.

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  10. NealNo Gravatar
    March 23rd, 2011 at 8:46 am

    To start with, I hope Tressel doesn’t get fired. I thought you article was well written as long as you are preaching to the choir and not trying to be objective. I see nothing wrong with you presenting the situation through rose colored glasses just as I see nothing wrong with anyone seeing the similarities with the Tressel and Perl cases. Your trying to make Mike Bianchi look jaded is jaded in itself. I have a few pair of friends that identical twins. Depending on how well people know them, people run the gamut from not being able to tell them apart to just thinking they look somewhat similiar. Tressel and Pearl are similiar on the important aspects. The details are different just as identical twins are different in the details.

    No, I don’t want Tressel fired although the NCAA should drop the hammer if they want to save their integrity. It is too late for Ohio State University. I do think his transgression was as at least as bad or worse than Bruce Pearl’s though. He lied so that he would have a chance at the National Championship by playing players he KNEW were inelegible (see A.J. Greene case). The worst part of all of this are all the people defending his actions beginning with Gordon Gee. Tessel is just one man. He action makes himself look bad. Everyone’s defense of his actions makes the university look dirty. If you want to defend Tressel, ok. Just stop throwing stones at Tennessee, USC, or anyone else. You are no different. Well, mabye a little, identicals twins have differences.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    March 23rd, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    But do we get to have that cool twin language? :)

    Good point, and please recognize that this situation wasn’t a “throwing stones” matter. Like I said, it was a response to the fifteen conversations I’ve had to have in the last 36 hours and to Bianchi’s article, which got picked up by NBC.

    And I don’t think he’s jaded- as a writer in Florida, I’d actually be surprised if he didn’t have an anti-UT bias. But I do think that he wrote an article that was “easy” rather than indepth.

    Not that we understand the situation(s) any better, but there are other points of view.

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  11. VABuckeyeFanNo Gravatar
    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Missing in all of this is the fact that tOSU did self-report, which is essential to the NCAA. While I was initially disappointed in a man I had put on a pedestal, I have almost come full circle. What would have been the reaction if Tressel had outed a Federal drug trafficking invsetigation? It would have been that Tressel cares only about winning football games and endangered lives in doing so. In a saturated media world stink sells. It’s just a shame that Cicero put him in a no win situation. Damned if he did, damned if he didn’t.

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    gcateNo Gravatar
    March 23rd, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Cicero has no blame in this, are you being serious? All Tress had to do was sit the boys for a few games, notify the NCAA and they could have said it was for violating team rules and that would have been the end of it. No need to out any Federal investigation. He made a huge mistake that may end up costing us dearly. Cicero did what any of us would have done in informing his alma mater.

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    VABuckeyeFanNo Gravatar
    March 23rd, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I would like to think you’re right, but the assumption today must be that any situation involving a program of this stature will be leaked. See our own department for proof. How much of the USC story did you not know by the time the NCAA reported? Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

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  12. gcateNo Gravatar
    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:31 am

    First, I am a Buckeye fan living in Knoxville, so I see both of these issues up close. The bottom line is that Jim Tressel lied as well as Pearl, period. None of the players that Pearl was recruiting ever signed with UT, one being Aaron Craft. Tressel’s lies allowed ineligible players to play. Pearl’s lies did not gain UT any advantage on the court, while Tressel’s did give him an advantage on the field. I was as big a supporter of jim Tressel as anyone, but the fact is he has lied and is someone that can no longer be trusted to tell th truth and for that he should be gone for his actions. I know my comment will not be popular but so be it. Pearl and Tress both did wonderful things for their universities and programs, but once they can no longer be trusted to do the right thing, then they have to face the consequences of there actions.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    March 23rd, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Interesting take… thanks!

    And yup, consequences are a part of our choices. At least that’s what I keep telling my 4 year old.

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  13. John SheridanNo Gravatar
    March 23rd, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Forget the apples / oranges and Pearl / Tressel comparisons…Bottom line for Buckeye Land…in the eyes of the NCAA and they are the only ones who count…had your coach reported what he knew , when he knew it the players would have been ruled ineligible for some period of time. By playing them when he knew they would have otherwise been ineligible means in NCAA terms “unethical conduct” and you might as well start listing 2010 as an 0-12 season.

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    Lurking_MichaelNo Gravatar
    March 23rd, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Vacated wins are not losses.

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    VABuckeyeFanNo Gravatar
    March 23rd, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    …and in any event, the NCAA has already determined that ineligible players, the Tat-5, participated, but chose not to vacate. Worse case from here would be no bowl appearance this year. I would hope the self-report would garner only probation though, particularly considering the circumstances.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    March 23rd, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Indeed… although that may be difficult for Michigan fans to hear.

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    CaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    March 25th, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I hope you are right, because I would be sorely disappointed if we vacated wins. The unmentioned victims here are the outgoing Seniors of last year. Players who did nothing wrong who are now going to have their streak of big ten championships taken away from them. For a class that will always be near and dear to my heart(I’m looking at you Mr. Sanzenbacher) nothing they did deserved this. I can’t help but feel this is the beginning of the end of our run of dominance. The Huns have a new coach who actually coaches Big 10 Football, and the mothership has always been quick to dump dirt on us before we are dead. Now they get to use every bit of circumstantial evidence(I’ll take Santonio Holmes for $400 Alex) and call us the NEW U. When you add all that together with the fact that Tressel losing his main selling point in the living room, The football family who does things the right way, and I think we are in big big trouble. Even a Bowl ban will put us in a very bad place for recruiting over the next 4 years. No one wants to send their son to play for a cheater. Well except that Newton Guy.

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    NC_BuckeyeNo Gravatar
    March 26th, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    One of the things I’ve learned thru all of this — there are no bigger haters of the Buckeye Nation than the “good” people of State College and Iowa City. Not the Michigan people nor the S-E-C trolls, not even the college sports media, has spewed as much bile at us as Penn State and Iowa Hawkeyes fans.

    For my part, as an alumnus and son of Ohio, I want Tressel to remain no matter what sanctions we get. And if he gets a “show cause” penalty (which I feel is totally undeserved given the facts as we presently know them), I say we lawyer up and sue the NCAA.

    It’s time for our Big Ten brethren to realize that a black eye for us translates into a black eye for them as well.

    BTW, Cornhuskers welcome to the Big Ten. Not as harmonious a place as when you accepted, huh?

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  14. mikeNo Gravatar
    March 25th, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    wow ohio state fans cry too much…making an example out of them!? boo hoo…you miss a few conference games, tennessee is in shambles, at least pearl went back the next day and admitted he lied unlike tressel.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    March 26th, 2011 at 12:56 am

    Ummmm… you must be new here, or a bit illiterate. We’ve done nothing but call for the appropriate penalties in this matter, but are wise enough to allow the NCAA to determine what that is rather than the court of public opinion.

    One similar thing about both coaches “truthiness” is that it came after being confronted with evidence- a photo in Coach Pearl’s case and an email in Coach Tressel’s. So, while JT wasn’t initially forthcoming, let’s not hold St. Bruce up as the example of how it should have happened.

    If Tennessee is in shambles, it will be due more to the work of their own hands (or the hands of their former coaches) than anything in Columbus.

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  15. TomNo Gravatar
    March 30th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    His players were selling their jerseys and stuff to drug trafficers. Not only did the coach keep it quiet, he continued to play them. Guys he knew were selling OSU property to drug dealers. You want that guy as your coach? I’d rather go 0-12.

    Not so fast about the ‘we don’t pay for players thing’. Watch Bryant Gumbel’s show tonight………

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/campusrivalry/post/2011/03/auburn-players-money-hbo-real-sports/1

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    JimNo Gravatar
    March 30th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    So a player from almost a decade ago claims that an Ohio State co-ed propositioned him during his visit (shocker) and received an undisclosed amount of money during the visit from an unidentified person or persons (prove to me that Coach Tressel had anything to do with any of those things)… said player then chooses to go to Auburn during which time he continues to receive payments throughout his career.

    Got it. So are you arguing with us or against us about paying for players?

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  16. TomNo Gravatar
    March 30th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Ohio State is the black eye. We want them to be punished and get rid of the black eye. Once it’s gone, we can clean up the image of the Big 10. If he stays, we stink like the SEC.

    Success With Honor.

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    JimNo Gravatar
    March 30th, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Penn State has players arrested for assault and other unseemly behavior almost every off-season.

    Michigan just got busted for out right cheating by practicing too much and recently had a player set a building on fire while trying to run a narcotics ring out of his dorm room.

    Iowa has half their team hospitalized with kidney failure (or something)a few months ago.

    Those are just off the top of my head.

    Every school has their issues. Ohio State wins more games than everyone else so people like to pile on and make it a bigger story when things get rough.

    Unless you are a Northwestern fan, cut the righteous indignation, it is disingenuous and obnoxious.

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  17. TomNo Gravatar
    March 30th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Penn State had one incident a few years back. All there other ‘trangressions’ are underage drinking and stuff like that. College kids drink underage. Stop the presses.

    I’m not talking about the kids. I’m talking about the adults entrusted with their best interest. Your guy knewe his kids were selling school property to drug dealers. He did nothing. Put them in the starting lineup. He has a history of things like that. Check out Youngstown State. He was on his way out there, also.

    Hey, if you’re ok with that, good for you. But JT is a step below Rich Rod. Be truthful, your guy is a bum. He wins (and not really that much more than everyone else, they certainly haven’t dominated the Big 10) but he wins dirty. Be honest and take the guy for what he is, don’t make excuses.

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    JimNo Gravatar
    March 30th, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    “He wins (and not really that much more than everyone else, they certainly haven’t dominated the Big 10)”

    I wish I had paid closer attention to this post the first time around. This quote demonstrates unequivocally that you are uninformed at best (something more insulting at worst) and are not worth spending time having a discussion with.

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  18. TomNo Gravatar
    March 30th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    How many NCAA violations does Penn State have in the past 10 years? How many does OSU have? Argue that point.

    Your QB drives around in differnt cars every week from a dealship that has OSU stuff all over the walls. Coincidence. College kids can all afford lots of cars.

    Curtis Enis talked to an agent about 15 years ago. That is the extent of PSU’s NCAA violations. No one even knew about it. You can’t compare the two.

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    JimNo Gravatar
    March 30th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    The crop of Nittany Sour Grapes are ripening a bit early this year it would seem.

    I love the attitude that breaking criminal law is somehow less significant than breaking NCAA rules. Penn State legal trouble, let me google that for you.

    The fact that you claim there has only been one transgression proves that you aren’t even informed or aware of your own team, yet somehow you are qualified to judge others? Give me a break.

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    Jeff at The BBCNo Gravatar
    April 1st, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Our coach lied.

    Your coach covered up an assistant coach that likes to shower naked with 12-year-old boys.

    We win. Just like on the field.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    April 1st, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Hear where you’re coming from, Jeff… but neither of these situations are “Win”.

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  19. TomNo Gravatar
    March 31st, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Well, then name me the other NCAA violation other than Curtis Enis. I’m waiting.

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    EricNo Gravatar
    March 31st, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Again, I believe he pointed out that Legal Transgressions are much much greater than NCAA violations. Just sayin’

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  20. TomNo Gravatar
    March 31st, 2011 at 11:25 am

    They haven’t dominated it. You can’t count a shared title as a title. Yeah, you probably have the best Big 10 record the last 10 years, but that’s from domination. You’ve had plenty of bad losses during that time frame. Pick, choose, and insult all you want, but no one has refuted the fact that Ohio State has dominated the Big Ten in one area, NCAA voilations.

    Again, the man you place in such high esteem knew his players were selling their ‘gold pants’ (or whatever the silly thing is they get when they beat a lousy Michigan team that loses to everyone with a pulse) to guys that traffic illegal drugs. He played them. Again and again. He didn’t report it. He lied about why he didn’t report it. He didn’t have the courage to suspend them for a bowl game. If that is better than a couple of drunk college kids getting into a minor scuffle, then be proud of the guy you have.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    March 31st, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Remind me again how many conference football titles that Penn State has won since they joined? Or how many national championships or BCS games they’ve won during that time?

    You’ll never hear any of us defending Tressel’s actions- what he did was against the NCAA’s guidelines, and was wrong. He should deal with the consequences.

    That being said, I’m not sure accusing a fanbase of blindly following their coach is something any Penn State fan should do at this point in Paterno’s career.

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  21. TomNo Gravatar
    March 31st, 2011 at 11:27 am

    One NCAA violation. Curtis Enis. In 60 years. He didn’t play again.

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  22. TomNo Gravatar
    March 31st, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I’ll follow him until he becomes a lowlife like Tressel. If he ever becomes a lowlife, I’ll have the courage to call for his dismissal. By the way, we’ve won the Big 10 three times. In 17 years. Yeah, it’s not great, but when we won it, we won it. We went to the Rose Bowl, we don’t count shared titles.

    Again, your guy stood by and did nothing as his players sold what apparently is one of the most prized possessions a Buckeye can obtain. Sold them to drug dealers. He knew. He did nothing. Then he lied about it. That’s your coach. Any parent that would allow their kid to play football for that needs their head examined.

    I’ll take 0-12 with Paterno over anything Jim Tressel does. Every year.

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    March 31st, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    And I hope you get your wish. Long Live Joe Paterno.

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  23. TomNo Gravatar
    March 31st, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    You used ineligible players. The coach knew they were ineligible. If this isn’t a case for vacating wins, what is?

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    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    March 31st, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Yup, that’s what we’re waiting to see from the NCAA. Luckily it’s them that gets to decide, and not a couple of guys who have enough going on in their lives that they can banter on a sports website.

    [Reply]

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