By Ramzy Nasrallah on March 8, 2011 at 9:13p
WHACgateThe Woody Hayes Athletic Center

(Ed: The timing could certainly be better, but we're still pumped to introduce 11W's newest contributor, Ramzy Nasrallah. Most of you are probably familiar with his fine work at Bucknuts (and bringing lulz to Twitter) and we're expecting nothing less here. His first regular column tackles the topic on everyone's mind.)

When you finally got to bed on Monday night (softly mumbling the words to Carmen Ohio through your tears) you were led to believe that it was the work of a two-month Y! Sports investigation that had implicated Jim Tressel in deliberately obscuring his knowledge of the Tatgate scandal that broke in December for several months, including the entire 2010 season.  We now know a lot of that supposition to be false, especially the part about the crack Y! Sports investigation.  Getting to that story wasn't nearly as cunning or sleuthy as Dan Wetzel and Charles Robinson had intimated: Someone simply tipped them off.  Someone on the inside.  As pissy as that might make you feel, that's actually a good thing.

Amidst our collective racing thoughts and spontaneous bowel-evacuating nervousness was the notion that a couple of writers could uncover the sordid details of what went on behind Tressel's desk back in April better than Ohio State or the NCAA could.  The idea of Tressel as a naive, Ken Lay-type patriarch conveniently not-knowing or "forgetting" misdeeds that he was directly informed of was hard to stomach.  It was perfunctory math for even the least cynical hypothesis: The 2010 Buckeyes were so loaded that Tressel was not going to allow anything to prevent them from hitting the field come September intact and at full-strength.  So upon hearing about his players' interactions with Edward Rife (you know him better as the shady tattoo parlor guy) Tressel "forgot" about it. 

The math was off.  Tressel had his reasoning, some of it circuitious to be sure, but at no point during Ohio State's press conference last night did he fail to remember any element of what had transpired - the man has a memory like a steel trap to go with the keen self-awareness to recognize everyone knows already knows this about him.  To believe what Tressel said in copping to his actions, you have to first believe that he buys into his own mantra of paying forward, developing men and it - being the Ohio State football experience - not really being about the ball.  If you don't believe that, you can stop reading now, because you'll hate the rest of this.

Ohio State football is bigger than one bad season, one missed opportunity or one off-the-field disaster.  Buckeye football history is already spotted with bad seasons, smited by off-the-field disasters and a veritable start-to-finish tapestry woven almost exclusively with missed opportunities.  Jeopardizing a program much bigger than he is on the bad bet that the media, a university compliance office that employs nearly five dozen people or a simple public records search would all somehow miss this could not have crossed his mind as a viable option.  I have no doubt that the Tressel and the compliance office at large get daily, detailed emails about players getting free chips at Chipotle, discounted car washes or unsolicited high fives from swarthy, jock-sniffing miscreants.  I also have no doubt that Tressel reads every email he receives, from ones about how poorly one of his kids is doing in a 100-level Psychology class to others on how much someone's Nana appreciated his birthday card.

Now that Ohio State has gone on the record with what really happened (it was an exhaustive internal investigation, not some 1970s-era Washington Post staffers prying facts from the abyss) there is some comfort with how it was conducted.  There are schools that exploit scholarship limits, deliberately cover up rampant cheating and endure booster activities that would make the shadowy, pocket-lined figures around Columbus blush.  Ohio State self-reports violations like absolutely nobody else.  They're wholly interested in policing the enormous athletic department that brings with it the full spectrum of attention. 

What would be more suspicious would be a large athletic department that did not report a similar list.  College athletics are far from virtuous, and the sanctity of a program will always lie with the athlete's ability to shun temptation - at Ohio State and everywhere else.  Maybe I'm just easily appeased.  Perhaps it was seeing Tressel take the blame, apologize and do so with palpable difficulty.  It's hard for middle-aged men to fake remorse, and Tressel only has one character he's fit to play: Himself.

When Y! Sports' report broke, immediate comparisons were made to USC, which felt the wrath of Y!'s investigative brawn to the tune of weapons-grade probation (still under appeal) from the NCAA investigation borne from it.  As it turns out, Wetzel and Robinson were merely leaking a story that the Ohio State compliance department was already almost finished writing.  As lousy as the Tat Five suspensions and at least half of a September without Tressel on the sideline is going to be, castigation came from within.  It's not the kind of news you wanted to hear, but the retribution could have been far worse: It could have come from somewhere else.


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Denny's picture

Solid piece. I agree with the notion that Smith runs a very open office (by NCAA standards), and that's appreciated.

Also, hello friend. 


The_Lurker's picture

Ramzy = #WINNING

gravey's picture

Welcome aboard Ramzy.  Used to read your stuff always over at BNs...til I stopped going there. 

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Nice to see Ramzy here.  Love the tweets, loved this, looking forward to seeing what you contribute.

Colin's picture

I like your style.

Is this a permanent switch from Bucknuts or just an occasional contribution? And if it is permanent...why the switch? Just curious.

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Thanks for the welcomes. 

While I'll continue to be an infrequent contributor at Bucknuts, the plan is to be here permanently, both in a writing and business development capacity.  No disgruntling, no divorcing, no unhappiness - just want to be a part of the great things we've got going on here & am humbled to have been invited.

Matt's picture

After reading the emails, I am absolutely shocked that Tressel could be so stupid.  Even if he had confidentiality concerns, there is absolutely no reason for his in-house silence.  Assuming that he didn't tell others -- which may not be 100% true, either -- the most likely conclusion is that he was protecting a loaded team.  It is clear from the emails that he knew Pryor was involved.  Bauserman quarterbacking that team?  Capital One Bowl, at best. 


Meanwhile, in Terrelle Pryor land:


 Like Hov say, First they love you then they hate you then they love you again!!!! " Jay-z     less than 10 seconds ago  via Echofon 


Terrelle Pryor, go f*** yourself.  I would be happy if you never played another down in an OSU jersey again.

J.B.'s picture


You just pimped Pryors name by admitting we are Cap One at best without him... yet pimp slapped him by saying you hope he never plays another down and telling him to f*** himself... 


tomcollins's picture

I'll take losing over having an asshat for a QB.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

EDIT:  Too drunk and I changed my damn mind about it.

Colin's picture

It looks like one of those, "you're really good, but I don't like you," scenarios.

Matt's picture

How is that inconsistent?  I pointed out Pryor's importance to the 2010 team in the context of saying that keeping Pryor eligible was the most likely reason that Tressel kept this from his bosses' eyes. I am not disputing that Pryor is an incredible athelete.  I am disputing his character.  Your coach just got publicly humiliated cause you wanted to sell your swag to pimp the dodge charger -- Haterz gonna hate, HOVA!

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Don't forget pimping the Yankees hat and tats because you know, he did this all to help his mom.

tregleesflattop's picture

Matt--This is spot-on...I'm a huge homer, but way too many people are drinking the kool-aid.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I was going to avoid reading the emails, but LMAO, wow!  HOW IN THE HELL do you not escalate this?  He was writing back funny ass comments too, like, I'm going to drop the hammer and shit.  Damn.  Were we conned?

Denny's picture

Would it be more acceptable if he would have quoted Aristotle.


William's picture

Matt have you ever sold anything you owned? If you have then don't judge Pryor, he sold what he damn well earned, so if you want to join Herbstreit as a Fake Buckeye and defame a player who has given more to the program than you ever will go right ahead. Call me blind, call me a homer, I don't care if Pryor sold his gold pants or a championship ring, or his sportsmanship award. They were his, not your's, not mine, not the NCAA's, and not Ohio State's, so he can do whatever he damn well wants to do with them in my opinion. This is Tressel's fault for witholding the information, and while he was doing what he thought was best, it led to his Punishment. By the way I completely back Tressel on what he did, the whole Tat-5 scandal as well as this are completely bogus. Who are we to judge Pryor for his character, I don't know him and unless I'm mistaken you don't know him either, so before he is called an asshat or a punk, why don't you hold your judgement since you don't even know the guy. Also concerning Pryor's character, considering how we all hold Tressel in such high regards, why don't we ever respect the fact that the guy sticks up for Pryor as player, leader and student?

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

It's Tress's fault that Pryor broke the rules that he admitted to knowing were wrong?  Man.  You have your TP love-on way too hard bro.  I think the rules suck and the NCAA is being way too hard on the kids and the university but don't blame Tress to defend Pryor because that is just fucking silly.

Matt's picture

For someone who is so concerned about my criticizing the character of someone whom I've never met (to your knowledge), you are pretty quick to criticize me -- I presume we've never met.

You are arguing that the NCAA should allow Pryor to sell his gear.  I agree.  That and a buck will get us something off the dollar menu.  The NCAA rule is what it is.  Our disagreement wtih that rule means absolutely nothing in terms of changing what Tressel has done.  That is a fact.  Here are some more facts:

Tressel makes $3.5 million per year.  He is the highest paid state employee in Ohio.

Tressel has coached football for decades.

Tressel frequently attended NCAA seminars and is aware of the rules.

Tressel has a compliance department at his disposal that is staffed by dozens.

Tressel could pick up a phone and call a dozen attorneys at OSU's Office of Legal Affairs, for free, at a moment's notice to solicit advice.

Tressel knew about the issues that led to player suspensions at least 8 months in advance.

Tressel allegedly told no one else about this revelation.

When the US Attorneys' Office called OSU, OSU investigated and disclosed the issue.  When questioned by his superiors, Tressel did not inform them of his knowledge.



You want me to respect a guy for having lied by omission for almost a year after he has espoused accountability and honesty for years -- does not compute.


Another Jason's picture

When the US Attorneys' Office called OSU, OSU investigated and disclosed the issue.  When questioned by his superiors, Tressel did not inform them of his knowledge.

Do we know that for sure?  I'm asking this sincerely, because to me it seems like the story goes like this:  Tressel got the emails, thought he was being told to keep it quiet to not interfere with federal investigation, and made the mistake of not seeking legal/compliance advice.  When the US Attorney's Office called, OSU asked the players about it and they admitted to it.  During this investigation, Tressel tells them about emails or they are discovered another way and he admits to it.  The separate investigation into his actions begins, possibly upon discovery or possibly after the conclusion of the NCAA's ruling on the students.  This investigation involves the NCAA and resulted in last night's self-report/sanctions (although there is a chance that there could be further punishment).

If at any point there is actual proof that Tressel did NOT admit to the emails/knowledge during the investigation into the students' actions, then you have a point.  I'm not sure if that's the case though.

AJ's picture

correct me if im wrong....but didnt tressel sign something he has no knowledge of the tat-5? im pretty sure i read that somewhere...i thought that this is why it was such a big deal because he lied to the NCAA and? another thing that i havent seen brought up, but in the emails that dirty tatto guy has a national championship ring and what seemed like much more than he got from pryor and the others which would seem like this has been going on more than just a couple years?

"Without winners, there wouldn't even be civilization." -----------Woody Hayes

Type G's picture

Well said, William.

Pryor obviously has some character issues, but they're overblown at times by fans. Compared to some of the REAL asshat star players at other colleges, I'm ok with Pryor and he seems tame in comparison.

"No time for love, Doctah Jones!"

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

10.1 violation......sounds like shit will get worse.  Gotta love already paying for those season tickets.  Shit.  eSECpn just said Tress misled and lied to the NCAA and that he should get worse than the players got

William's picture

I'm not blaming Tressel for what he did, but I think it's ludicrous for anyone on this site to judge Pryor's character.

Denny's picture

Agree 100% re: Pryor.


BucksfanXC's picture

I'm not judging his character either. He's a 19, 20 yr old kid in the spotlight. But this is the price you pay when you go get the #1 recruit in the country. Shit follows him. Ppl will be around him, asking for money, offering money, offering cars, tattoos, drugs, women, etc. It would be hard to be virtuous and ethical for anyone, let alone a young kid. I'm not gonna say the kid is blameless, but I will say he might be.

It sure makes me appreciate the Jared Sullingers, the Greg Odens, the Eddie Georges, the Orlando Paces, the big time recruits that avoid these problems.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

GAWD.  Why in the holy hell does everyone keep saying that OSU forced the issue of the kids playing in that damn Sugar Bowl when the BCS was the driving factor!  How soon these assholes forget.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I need to see some Sully dominating the post with a healthy portion of Threebler just going batshit insane behind the arch with WB showing off some of his NBA type skills topped with a healthy dose of some crafty Craft.  Football will work itself out.  Right?

buckeyedude's picture

Hell yes, brotha! Got my tickets to the B1G Championship game in Indy on Sunday! It's great to be a Buckeye!



buckeyedude's picture

I agree that this shit would've never have happened had the boys not sold their stuff. I argued that it was there's to sell, as this is still a free country, I think. Even so, it was a mistake. But it's amazing how far this has gone.

Just get this mess over with, asap. The longer this drags on, the more it's going to hurt. Mistakes were made. Get it over with and move on. People(haters) love talking about Ohio State because they are envioius. Let them talk.

This is not on the level of Reggie Bush or Cam Newton, IMO.

I disagree with those that voted to say "this has huge implications for Tressel and OSU."

I just went through a divorce after 20 years of marriage. Life happens. Mistakes are made. It's how you respond to those mistakes that defines you. I believe Tressel is a man of good character, and look forward to him being Ohio State coach for another 20 years.



Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I think those haters are influencing even those closest to loving this program, even some of the 11W faithful into thinking the punishment should be worse.  Folks are worried about other fanbases' perception of our program.  Kids sold things they earned a few years before it was okay to sell them. That's it!  Tress learned about it early and fucked up by not saying anything.  God, I'm having a hard time buying why he didn't report anything after reading those emails.  Why didn't he escalate this?  I'm almost convinced we are going to get wins vacated now.  I hate this. I almost think Tress sent it on and nothing happened to it.  I think Tress if falling on one very sharp and pointed sword.  Damn.  None of us will ever know.

Maestro's picture

So thanks Ramzy, well done.

Tress messed up and will pay a price, but I respect the heck out of him.

I seriously would love if the blacked out names on those April emails were Whiting and Thomas.  That would shut up the people who think he was motivated by something other than the kids' safety.

vacuuming sucks

Matt's picture

Regarding the blacked out names -- I think one hint is the blacked out portion that says "4-5 jerseys, all signed by players, the [REDACTED] (whoever that was awarded to)."

It's just a guess, but I suspect is that this redacted portion -- which, judging by length, appears to be a few words long -- is referring to the sportsmanship award from the Fiesta Bowl.  It doesn't look like the attorney knows who was the recipient of that award (hence, "whoever that was awarded to" line).  However, I think it's a fair bet that Tressel would know that Pryor was the recipeint of that award, and he would have surmised that Pryor was selling gear (if he did not know already from the emails).  We will not know for sure unless we see unredacted emails.

Denny's picture

"It's just a guess, but I'm going to go ahead and just run Pryor's name through the dirt because I don't like him."


tregleesflattop's picture

Tress should have gone with the old "my email account was hacked" routine...Nearly as plausible as his ridiculous defense at the press conference.

If you're going to own up, make it count and lose the bullshit.

Sgt. Elias's picture

Here's the offical internal findings as conducted by the university enforcement services.

 I just popped over to ESPN, the hate bonfie is well stoked over there. The thing is, any top 10 program has some dirt under the rug, the need to win and the metric tons of cash involved will have this effect unfortunately. The ESPN boards litterally destroy brain cells, I would rather gargle thumb tacks than read that shite. MSM Sporting news blackout for me for a while (`cept hoopyball). I secretly enjoyed USC's troubles but held my tongue because violations exist everwhere (and Petey bolted to non-extradition territory aka Seattle, which made the punishment sackless), plus karma's a bitch.  Fans of major programs are delusional if they think everything is squeeky clean at their joint. Not sure how to remedy this issue. Oregon better hope the wrath of Khan doesn't hit them too. Perhaps the NCAA wants to nueter every conf. except the SEC, what joy.

"Okay -- I've got an El Camino full of rampage here." 

Greenbriar's picture

Tressel needs to self-impose a penalty of five games.  The players are out for five.  He should be out for five. As he said, he is not asking for pity, so no one should give it to him.  He is expected to hold himself to the highest standards.  He didn't.  He should face the consequences.

He also needs to be more honest as to why he did not take action.  All he had to do was talk to one lawyer or compliance officer at Ohio State and he would have fulfilled his responsibilities.  Doing so would not have in any way put players at any risk.  Doing so would not have undermined the federal investigation.  (In fact, there was a simple solution to the conflict between keeping the investigation private/reporting to the NCAA:  (1) call up the US attorney and let him know what OSU knew and (2) ask him if OSU was authorized to talk to the NCAA.  If the answer to (2) was no, OSU has a great excuse for why it did not disclose.)  The reason he did not talk was he did not want his players to be suspended.  He thought he could slide on this.  

Also, note that he has provided absolutely no explanation for why he did not disclose what he knew in December--after the investigation had become public.  Any concern about confidentiality was gone then.

In sum, while I love Tressel, his speech was Clintonesque.  He needs to own up to what he did to get back some respect. 





gravey's picture

I wondered aloud to my wife when Tress signed Pryor if he'd die on the cross for him, like he nearly did for 13-that-shall-not-be-named.  Of course Pryor wasn't the only one willing to put his coach in a bind, but this scenario is such a common refrain in sports (and parenting I suppose).  It's a black day.  I love Tress, because I thought he wouldn't let shit like this happen on his watch.  I hope he wasn't lying to just win games.  I'll try to tell myself that he was lying to protect the players or the program.  In any case it's stunning because you know he so frequently espouses "honesty is the best policy" rhetoric...and I still believe in those simple truths.

German Buckeye's picture

Perspective people.  I have Soldiers who go out , get drunk, make mistakes, etc....and who is ultimately responsible for their actions, me.  Same here for Tress.  Five kids (and they are kids really) make a dumb mistake, are greedy, whatever....and now the piper must be paid by Tress, and by extension the university and its fan base.  Of course I dont make 3.5 million dollars as as an officer in the Army, and sometimes if my Soldiers (or I) make a mistake, someone winds up dead, so this whole thing is on a larger scale in world events, relatively small bananas.  Haters will continue to hate, no changing that.  Only thing I really hope the NCAA doesnt do is take away last season.  Really dont want to revert to o-fer vs. the SEC - that's a REAL bummer. 

BuckeyeChief's picture

Funny how I thought the same thing. (Navy Chief though).

"2014 National Champions...deal with it!!!"

RoweTrain's picture

They may be able to take the win against Arkansas from the record books but they can never, and i mean NEVER, take it from our hearts!

"Just bow up and go out and play." ~ D. Lee

"As it stands right now, I know I am the best athlete in college football." ~ B. Miller

moregontrail's picture

Of course we will be officially 0 for 9 again so we will have to listen to that whole spiel once more

Todd-Not Boeckmann's picture

The Arkansas game is still on my DVR. It will never be erased.

On the wall guarding the North Coast from all Weasel invasions.

O-H Kee Pa's picture

Right. I WATCHED OSU beat Arkansas 31-26. Still going to wear my Sugar Bowl champs hat no matter what happens.

Bucks's picture

I'm just curious to know who JT forwarded the emails to. He absolutely affirmed he did before Gene Smith managed to stop that line of questioning. When expressing a concern for confidentiality, admitting you still forwarded those emails along ... instantly puts that at risk. Not sure we will ever know who the other parties are that were privy to this information but it is obvious from his response it wasn't just him & an unethical lawyer(which this lawyer absolutely is).

BucksfanXC's picture

I have the suspicion that it was either his (Tressel's) lawyer, a lawyer for OSU, or some employee of the AD's office/compliance office. Whoever he emailed it to, they are bad at their job and Tress paid the price for it. Class act that Jim Tressel, class act.


“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

The_Lurker's picture

Two points in play on "nod-gate." JT's nod at the question asked (Did you forward these emails to anyone? was the question) could have two meanings. First, having been privy to any number of these types of pressers, I know that it's not unusual for the person at the podium to nod to the person asking the question as sort of a subconscious signal that they're listening or that they are paying attention to the person asking the question (when there are often multiple people asking quesitons simultaneously).

The second possibility is that he was answering affirmatively through non-verbal communication, BUT, since Gene Smith intercepted the question, we'll never know if JT was going to say that he forwarded the emails AFTER the investigation started (i.e. to the compliance dept.) or before. If it was before, then it may be that he's falling on the sword for the entire Athletic Dept.

Bucks's picture

No. Jim Tressel affirmed he forwarded these emails. It was not a not acknowledging the question, and Gene Smith's almost frantic stop to that line of questioning only solidifies it.


I doubt we will ever know the party(ies) who received this information, but based off GS & his reaction + statements, this was an important portion of the NCAA investigation (admitted by himself on line of questioning).


I'm sorry, but that IS a big deal. You cannot claim concern for privacy and confidentiality and then admit you forwarded the conversations w/o people saying ... what? My concern in this is that JT could have actually forwarded this to a party that would have diminished this, but is now taking the fall for.

Bucks's picture

As an additional to the above:


There are numerous press personal who have already made it clear that JT acknowledged he did before Gene swooped in. (I would imagine our own 11W guys would attest to this).


Watching it live, there is no possibility that Tressel was affirming he heard the question. It was an answer of yes to that question & pointed out there is another party in this.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

 I hate this. I almost think Tress sent it on and nothing happened to it.  I think Tress is falling on one very sharp and pointed sword.  Damn.  None of us will ever know.


I started to feel like he was taking the fall last night as I wrote in my drunken stupor.

madhatterhater's picture

did it twice sorry

go bucks

madhatterhater's picture

I think OSU could have made themselves look better if they would have fined him even more.

go bucks