Step Outside So We Can Settle On Your Soul

By Johnny Ginter on April 28, 2011 at 1:00p

"On August 12th," reads the overly dramatic voice, "Ohio State will face the music." Cue loud klaxons, as Jim Tressel's disembodied head floats ominously against a dark background while a distorted version of "Hang On Sloopy" plinks and planks. Images of the 2010 Ohio State football season flash across the screen, slowly becoming back and white as the voice continues, "Will the NCAA buck the Buckeyes? Will Jim Tressel survive his fall from the chestnut tree of fame? Find out in TATGATE 2011!!" Explosions. Smash cut to a talking head making a lame pun before he begins an interview a hyperbolic college football "insider." Repeat 500 times.

As I mentioned in Tuesday's Skull Session, I'm not a huge fan of long, drawn out sports narratives designed to perpetuate scandal. Which is why, unless something new comes up, this will likely be the last post from me devoted to the issue. Still, there are a few things yet to be gleamed from the NCAA's Notice of Allegations, and today what I'd like to do is break down what the NCAA has requested that OSU provide at their hearing in August. Most of it is pretty routine stuff, but on the other hand a few items have the potential to reveal some interesting underpinnings to the program that we don't generally get to see.

If you've ever wanted to know exactly what Ohio State football players were told with regard to NCAA rules, or just how many secondary violations OSU has committed in the last five years, or who the hell Ted Sarniak actually is, then get ready, because in a few months it looks like we're going to find out (or, at least, Ohio State's interpretation of these issues).

A lot of the requests are procedural items that likely show up in every NCAA investigation of this nature. They want a detailed explanation of the violations committed, including a description of what was sold (including the Gold Pants), and then also the actions Jim Tressel took in trying to investigate the incidents himself. More mundane details such as sampus size, total number of student athletes, total number of university sponsored teams, etc. are also to be included. In other words, any information that will provide background for NCAA investigators as they go through the rest of the material. And while the NCAA did not accuse Jim Tressel or Ohio State of anything new in their Notice, it does appear that they will also be looking for any irregularities in the Athletic Department as a whole.

For instance, Ohio State is to provide numbers for both the total number of football grants/scholarships paid in the last four years and the average overall cost (tuition, room, board, books, etc.) for attending Ohio State for a year. There are other requests, such as bowl records, official paid visits for recruits, and lists of who withdrew from the football team and why, but what it all adds up to is that the NCAA is going to attempt to determine if there is any kind of monetary fraud going on within the Athletic Department. I don't think anyone foresees them uncovering any kind of "pay for play" situation, but the NCAA wouldn't be doing their jobs if they didn't at least check.

A few of the other items seem to be included as part of an effort to determine what kind of further punishment might be handed down, or even if Ohio State might qualify as "repeat offenders" of NCAA rules. OSU is to submit details about their television contracts, but a television ban of any sort seems unlikely. More likely is the "repeat offender" label, at least if Ohio State's numerous secondary violations could be enough to constitute a major violation in the eyes of the investigators, as OSU is required to submit a detailed explanation of all their secondary violations in the last five years, including a separate list for those form the football program. Which is a very, very long list. Adding to the issue is that the NCAA wants to know exactly what Ohio State players were told in terms of compliance, obviously with special attention paid to what players were told about selling memorabilia.

Background information aside, other pertinent information related to this particular case will be coming to light. The NCAA wants to know exactly what punishments the university gave out to both Jim Tressel and his players, and who exactly in the Athletic Department knew of the player's violations. It's unlikely we'll get any more names or details from either of these; so far the company line has been that Jim Tressel and Jim Tressel alone knew about this, conducting his own investigation and telling no one. If that's the truth, Tressel did a hell of a job of keeping a lid on everything for so long. If it's not, then someone else is about to pay the piper.

Probably most interesting is the chance that we'll finally get to find out exactly who "Uncle" Ted Sarniak is, and what his relation to Terrelle Pryor has been in the past five years or so. Honestly it's hard to fathom a situation where a wealthy guy takes a college athlete under his wing as being completely innocent, but OSU will likely try and put the best face on Sarniak and the situation overall. Also to be identified is Chris Cicero, the lawyer who first alerted Jim Tressel to the violations.

The NCAA's overall aim in collecting this information is to determine three things: first, that there are no further issues or irregularities within the Ohio State Athletic Department that need to be addressed. Secondly, that OSU has been consistent in its self-reporting of both the Tat Five incident and the Jim Tressel coverup. And finally, that the self-imposed punishment handed out by the university is sufficient in light of the violations committed.

I don't expect that the NCAA will find any new bombshells from the information that OSU will provide, although the smaller things may add up, such as the mountain of secondary violations committed by the football program does worry me somewhat (although Ohio State's meticulous reporting of them may help their case here). Could OSU get off with the punishments they've already imposed on themselves? Possibly, but given the scope of information that the NCAA wants, I feel that once they make their final determination there will be more punishments headed our way.


Comments Show All Comments

AngelHeartsBuckeyes's picture

Does the O'Brien basketball situation figure into the repeat offender status as well?  I thought the time limit had not expired (ten years, I think).  Also, it does seem ridiculous to punish us, or any school for that matter, for the number of reported secondary violations.  How can that be held against us and factor into the repeat offender status?

I still think the Federal investigation is a mitigating factor in all this.  Correct me if I am wrong, but when JT signed the NCAA letter in September, the investigation was still ongoing and if so, this also has to be taken into account.

Also, regarding playing ineligible players for the season and thus vacating wins; In December when this whole situation came to light, did the NCAA not know then the time frames of the selling/trading?  How can the NCAA vacate the 2011 season for the playing of ineligible players NOW just because JT knew about it is what causes the season to be lost is those players playing?  Were they not just as ineligible when the NCAA suspended them for five games this season?  I guess my convaluted point is this: How does JT's knowledge have anything to do with their ineligibility if they knew from the beginning what and when things had been sold/traded?  Further, if the season is vacated due to ineligibility, why then should the suspensions stand? Honestly, a few trinkets is giong to cost us 17 games?  This is just absurd.

Buckeye born and bred. Buckeye til I'm dead.

RBuck's picture

The O'Brien probation does come into by only 2 months.

Long live the southend.

M Man's picture

We faced the same thing.  The Ed Martin/Chris Webber/Robert Traylor/et cetera Thing came to light so long after Webber had gone, that there was some lingering probationary period even as we prepared to meet the Stretchgate allegations in the fall of '09.

And in the end, that threat (repeat offender thing) turned out to be no big deal.  Rightly so.  I'd expect a similar result in your case.

Johnny Ginter's picture

i think five years is the timeframe we're looking at, which i THINK unfortunately means that the troy smith problem falls under that time frame (albeit just barely)

Johnny Ginter's picture

nope, it's the obrien deal, thanks for pointing that out

RBuck's picture

I'm to the point where I'll take any punishment except a post season ban. That would absolutely kill recruiting.

Long live the southend.

AngelHeartsBuckeyes's picture

I donk know if it would kill it--look at USC.

Buckeye born and bred. Buckeye til I'm dead.

Johnny Ginter's picture

it wouldn't kill it, but it certainly might hurt it

M Man's picture

Curious -- Would the B1G Championship count as "Post-season"?  I'd think not.  It's part of the season, to determine a conference champion.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

A post-season ban would be better than forfeiting the 2010 season IMHO. Especially the bowl win over an SEC team. Albeit a "bad" SEC team (according to all SEC fans and the stupid media AFTER we beat them). I dont want to be 0-9 again...

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

btalbert25's picture

I don't think the bowl game can be vacated.  The NCAA ruled to let those inelligible players play.  Is the NCAA going to go back and say we were wrong those inelligible guys we deemed elligible are not inelligible again lol?  A post season ban would be bad, but just like the NCAA does with bowls, do you really think they are going to tell the B1G that their premeir program can't play in the inaugural B1G Championship game?  Are they going to tell the BCS that all those eyeballs and dollars that are spent by hordes of Buckeye fans at bowl games can't be done this year?   I just don't see it.  The NCAA is just as corrupt and in bed with all the filth that surrounds college football today.  They may want to make an example out of someone, but I can't see it being Ohio State with the other circumstances.  I think it'll be much more likely that the season minus bowl is vacated, Tressel's suspension/fine are deemed suitable, and they get put on probation. 

I could, though, see the NCAA nailing Tennessee.  There's no doubt t hey have a huge fan base, but UK or Georgia could send just as many fans to the Music City Bowl as Tennessee, and that's all the Vols have been good enough for much of the last 8 years.  I would say Oregon, but with USC down and Stanford having a new coach and some uncertainty, I can't see them drilling the PAC 10's signature program right now. 

Maestro's picture

Vacate the heck out of anything in the past IMHO.  Don't mess with the future any more than it already has been.

vacuuming sucks

Matt's picture

Re: Sarniak, my limited understanding is that he has had a relationship with TP since TP was in middle school, so I don't think this is about a wealthy guy taking a college athlete under his wing all of the sudden.  Impossibly gifted player or not, I have a hard time believing that Sarniak intuited years in advance that TP would be a hot NFL commodity and wanted to get in good with TP while the getting was good.  Rather, reports about Sarniak are that he is a successful local Jeannette businessman who is also kind of an ostentatious blowhard.  It could just be that he saw TP had potential in middle school, saw that his mom was fairly poor (I also think TP has problems with his father), and wanted to provide some stabilizing influence.  Maybe it was an exercise in grandfatherly ego-driven decision-making; he could see that TP was going to put Jeannette on the map and wanted to do his best to ensure that happened.  I'm not going to go all MGoBlog conspiratorial just yet.

M Man's picture

I presume that the inquiries into Sarniak are to see whether he qualifies as a "Booster" under the Bylaws.  If he is, I think that deepens the problems, and they might go out of their way to insitute a ban with Sarniak, although that falls in the "horse ==> out of barn" category.

RBuck's picture

My thinking is that if Sarniak was TP's sugar daddy, he wouldn't have sold his stuff.

Long live the southend.

NC_Buckeye's picture

I think I saw this on an SI "Truth & Rumors" comment yesterday. It made sense and I hope it doesn't come to pass.

The guy said the wording used by the NCAA in the Notice that violations relating to the coach are considered "potential major violations" -- this might be NCAA code for tOSU administration to get rid of your coach now and you'll avoid major violations. Otherwise, the shitstorm is on it's way.

Unfortunately for Tress the goodwill capital he's built up over the years doesn't extend beyond the state borders. All the hate out there for this otherwise decent guy just makes me physically ill. That map that Jason embedded yesterday really hit home. We're besieged.

Rooster Buckburn's picture

My gut feeling is that all of last years victories - sans the Sugar Bowl for reasons mentioned above - will be wiped away.  We played with inelligble players the entire season essentially, so this seems likely to me.  Since the NCAA lets OSU keep the Sugar Bowl championship - they will rule OSU inelligible for postseason play this season.  This will really suck (prediction alert) because we will go undefeated this season and become this years version of the 1993 Auburn football team.  Tressell will resign at season's end - we lose a few schollies.  Life goes on.  We rebound in 2012 with an even better team.

Nitz25's picture

Based on those predictions, how can you say we come back in 2012 with an even better team after losing our head coach and potentially the entire coaching staff (if they bring someone else in who wants their own staff to come with them).... That doesn't make any sense at all.

Losing Tressel might placate some of the nationwide hate and avoid more serious sanctions from the NCAA, but it will crush our programs performance in the short term.

And if Urban Meyer ends up coaching tOSU, I will be taking a fan furlough and rooting for Arizona State (only Pac-10 team I really like) as my #1.  That Vontaze Burfict guy is scary.

Rooster Buckburn's picture

yeah, I guess it would hard to be "better" than an undefeated team on the field - but better in the sense of no clouds hovering over the program

Nik's picture

no way we lose schollies.  We didn't commit any recruiting violations

Brady's picture

I really hope the missing "lack of institutional control" phrase in the letter implies that no post season ban is on it's way.  Go ahead and vacate whatever you want.  We all know who won those games and the NCAA erasing victories from some magical record book is fine with me.  Hell, even suspend Tressel for the whole season.  It would suck but OSU football is bigger than one man.  The only punishment that would really upset me is taking away the opportunity to play in the postseason.  That would really take the air out of next season.


Cleats8's picture

Lol anyone see this!? Devier Posey is on the draft list for WRs..

AJ's picture

cam newton and dad look like 250000 bucks!

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

Nick's picture

The NCAA needs to be flipped upside down and changed or abolished and something new come up

BuckeyeChief's picture

Man, I really hate to say this, but until someone quits their job, works their way up the AD ladder and becomes the NCAA President, none of this shit will change.

Was Tressel wrong? yes.

Can you compare him to Pearl/Kiffin/Carrol? No.

Did Auburn get away scot free? Yes.

My biggest issue isn't the SEC. I hate them as a whole, but the only team I cannot stand for the life of me is Florida.

Right now my immediate goals are finishing my degree, getting a commission, retiring at 30 years, then working my way up the ladder.

"2014 National with it!!!"

GoBucks713's picture

How about worrying about what is going to/may/may not happen, let's change the subject to something better. Like giving. Give to the Connor Senn Memorial Fund. The Ohio State Men's Soccer team will be playing against the Dayton Dutch Lions on May 3rd at 7pm. Tickets are $5, you can buy your tickets via Ticketmaster or at the box office at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Homage is also selling shirts to raise money for the fund. Half of the proceeds go to a scholarship for a Buckeye Soccer player and the other half will go to heart research. Help raise awareness and help out our fellow Buckeyes. The money you help with could potentially save a loved one's life, or even your own.


Check out the shirt at


Go Bucks!


-The Aristocrats!

Joe Beale's picture

+100 for continuing the Fugitive theme.

Matt's picture

Way to go, Cam. 

741's picture

Finally Cam Heyward gets picked. (Here we go Steelers!) I can't believe he's considered to be the third best DE in the B10 in this years draft - that's bullshit.

btalbert25's picture

You know what, that's fine, he's going to be on the Steeler's.  That's one team that would truly be an honor to play for.  A franchise that does nothing but succeed.  Could you imagine know you were going to have to go to the Bengals, Browns, Carolina, or Lions?  He didnt slide too far, as I was hearing and believing he may end up with Baltimore, so I guess he couldn't o wrong, but the Steeler's are definitely  the organization I would want to play or get drafted to.  I'm not a Steeler's fan, but living in an area with a team that can never get it right in the Bengals, but seeing a team in the Division do everything right like the Steeler's I've really come to respect that franchise.


BuckeyeChief's picture

Congrats Cam; apparently Steelers fans and the city is going apeshit over having Ironhead's son there.

"2014 National with it!!!"