Two Years after TatGate, Things are Just Fine, Really

By Kyle Rowland on May 28, 2013 at 9:30a
The low point for many Ohio State fans

On Memorial Day 2011 one of the country’s leading sports programs had reached its lowest point. Mired in a scandal that drew national headlines, Ohio State’s legendary head coach, Jim Tressel, resigned under intense scrutiny and pressure.

Two years later that day seems like nothing more than a distant memory. When Urban Meyer was hired six months later, a 6-6 regular season that ended days prior immediately became a forgotten period.

There were more than 100 wins – nine over Michigan – a national championship, countless Big Ten titles and a decade of memories during Tressel’s tenure. But the Buckeyes’ outlook 24 months after his ouster has rarely been brighter. Meyer is yet to lose a game at Ohio State and he has reinvigorated a fan base that is intoxicated on positive energy.

To look back and see where the program sat on May 30, 2011, is almost unfathomable. Tattoo-Gate didn’t just damage Buckeye football, it fractured the entire athletic department and the university. Athletic Director Gene Smith and President E. Gordon Gee were swept up in the controversy not only because of their job titles but also because of missteps along the way.

Both men kept their jobs – something Tressel can’t say – and have come out the other side of the scandal upright and in command of their respective parties. Tressel received a five-year show-cause penalty, putting his coaching career on hold.

Now at the University of Akron in an administrative role within the university, Tressel is doing what has always been his passion: helping young people. It’s part of the reason why he’s no longer the head coach at Ohio State. Instead of alerting his superiors to the improper benefits a handful of prominent players received, Tressel chose to stay mum.

In a win-at-all-costs society, though, it’s hard to believe that Tressel kept quiet simply because he was “protecting the kids” as he put it. The Buckeyes were entering a season with high expectations – aren’t they all like that in Columbus? – and the absence of quarterback wunderkind Terrelle Pryor would have put those title chances on life support. The sporadic play of Joe Bauserman was put on display one season later and the results were less than desirable.

Time heals all wounds, though, and it appeared last November that fans were forgetful of Tressel’s violations when he received a hero’s welcome at the Michigan game. Later that afternoon, Meyer’s Buckeyes finished a 12-0 season but were denied an opportunity at playing for the national championship due to Tressel’s inaction with the NCAA.

The savior
Meet the new boss, same as the – oh, thank you, thank you, thank you for the new boss.

Even a bowl ban was nothing more than a minor speed bump for Ohio State. With three months remaining until the season opener, anticipation is nearing an all-time high. The Buckeyes have been good before and they’ll be good in the future, but the present state of recruiting, the vibe within the program and the intensity in which it’s all occurring seems like nothing that’s ever taken place in Columbus.

The 18-month recovery period has been akin to finding a cure for the incurable. Buckeye Nation was writhing in pain, awakening everyday with a doom and gloom attitude. Meyer’s presence has changed everything, though. The winning returned and a run of unprecedented success seems to be on the horizon.

It all began with a selfless group of seniors that stayed even when the odds were stacked heavily against them. Unlike what occurred at Penn State, there was no mass exodus from Columbus. John Simon, Zach Boren and others helped re-lay the foundation with a season that will be talked about for years to come.

The senior leadership is a void on the 2013 roster, but when one of the most exciting players in the country touches the ball on every offensive play, some lapses can be forgiven. Few quarterbacks can match the skills of Braxton Miller and even fewer players are able to duplicate the amount of game-breaking plays Miller has each Saturday.

Quarterback and head coach were made for each other. Both are elite in their positions with qualities that mesh. Meyer has Miller at his disposal for two more seasons, which is scary for the rest of the Big Ten – and perhaps the country. The true measure of Ohio State’s resurgence will come during the postseason.

Since his arrival, Meyer has stockpiled talented recruits, signing blue-chippers across the board. He’s brought the same philosophy with him that won two national championships at Florida. Shifty playmakers at the skill positions have been the top priority. The Buckeyes welcome three speedsters to campus in little more than a week that could make an impact this season.

A happy ending
Jim Tressel, cheered once again in Ohio Stadium last November.

Tempering expectations – if it’s possible at Ohio State – would be wise, even after an undefeated season. The difficulty involved in winning every game becomes apparent when the inevitable upset strikes. Despite a roster filled with contributors, Meyer is always on the lookout for bigger, faster and stronger.

He turned a middling class into a top-five group in less than three months in 2012 and signed what some consider the nation’s top class this season. The staff has already turned its attention to 2014 and beyond, securing the commitments of some of the top recruits in the country. It’s been a major change of pace from the Tressel regime’s recruiting efforts.

The on-field product features similar changes. A conservative approach that brought victories by the bushel but in a boring fashion that drove fans crazy has disappeared. Instead, Ohio State resembles the SEC North. Linemen are lean and fast, linebackers can chase down running backs and quarterbacks can run and throw equally well.

Tresselball had run its course. Now an Urban renewal has sparked change for the better.


Comments Show All Comments

TLB's picture

Still miss him.

45buckshot's picture

+1 taking nothing away from the urbanator, I do believe JT's motivation was mostly good. Keeping TP out of trouble helps Tress, but also helps TP--I think he was hoping it would all work itself out, none the wiser.
what I take away from the whole thing is never trust a lawyer...
actually, I heard the rat got disbarred, so he's a lawyer no more... Not kidding, I hope that works out for him too. And I hope TP is investing the NFL $ he's getting right now wisely... 
But mostly I hope history judges  JT as I see him: that if he loved not wisely, that he loved at all.
The man that gave us what Troy gave deserves no less, methinks.
ps the king is dead, long live the king!!! ;)

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
—G.K. Chesterton

fear_the_nut70's picture

This is 100% speculation on my part (with a dash of circumstantial evidence) but I believe that JT did come forward and tell his superiors (remember when he was asked that question at the presser about if he came forward and JT started to answer but was shut down).  I think he took one for the University.  Regardless of whether I am right or not, I will never forget what JT did for The Ohio State University.  Time does heal most wounds...

Ethos's picture

Question, is Miller a gaurentee to be back next year (as in he isn't eligible for the draft) or is this just assumed because of his skill level?  If it isn't because of eligibility, what makes everyone so certain he'd be back if we won an NC?

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Riggins's picture

He'd be a true Junior and would be eligible to enter the draft early.  However, unless he massively steps up his passing game this season, Brax will return for another year in Columbus.  I anticipate improvement in the passing game, but unless you're a projected 1st round pick, I don't think I would leave early.  Plus he comes from a family who isn't in dire need of the quick cash.

chicagobuckeye's picture

He will be eligible for the draft after this season. I think the assumption is that unless his throwing skyrocket (which everyone certainly hopes for) then he will still need one more year of refining to get the throwing mechanics into order.
EDIT: Post above just beat me out, but yes they are essentially the same thing.

Buckeye06's picture

"The senior leadership is a void on the 2013 roster, but when one of the most exciting players in the country touches the ball on every offensive play, some lapses can be forgiven."
Outside of Simon last year, did we know who the leaders would be in May 2012?  I mean this year OSU has 3 multi year starters in the secondary, a 3rd year starting qb (basically), 4 veterans on the O-line, and a senior RB anxious to be Meyers first 1,000 yard back.  That's not even talking about Shazier or Philly or Hall
I think there will be leaders emerging, but we won't know til the fall

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Yes - Buckeye Nation was writhing in pain, and we thank 11W for helping us all to work through it. A heartfelt thanks to those that created content, contributed to this site, and provided a support community during tough times. GO BUCKS! 
And now our future is so bright we need sunglasses....

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Tresselball had run its course. Now an Urban renewal has sparked change for the better.

I'm pretty sure Tresselball showed up a few times during the 2012 season.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Poison nuts's picture


"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

nickma71's picture

Cheering for the Senator had nothing to do with forgetting anything.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I have always been, and always be a huge fan of Jimmy T - but there is just NO way you can't be swept up in the Urban Renewal going on in Columbus!  These are exciting times Buckeye Nation!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Chise47's picture

Coach Tressel recruits:
Braxton Miller,Kenney Guiton, Cardale Jones, Cory(Don't call me 'Philly')Brown, Cris Fields, Devin Smith, Michael Thomas,Carlos Hyde(El Guapo), Jordan Hall, Rod Smith,Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley, Marcus Hall, Jeff Heuerman, Nick Vannett, Warren Ball, Evan Spencer, Blake Thomas,Antonio Underwood(IR-will miss '13),(& the ones folks think aren't "good" enuff), Darrel Baldwin, Jacoby Boren, Pat Elflein & Chase Farris, Drew Basil, & YES, Bryce Haynes damnit!!!!!!!!
Michael Bennett, Joel Hale, Cris Carter Jr., Steve Miller,J.T.Moore,(and ya think you can convince me Adolphus Washington wasn't coming to THEE Ohio State University, 'tat-gate' or not? HAH!); Ryan Shazier, Curtis Grant,Josh Perry, Joe Burger,Bradley Robey, Doran Grant, C.J.Barnett, Christian Bryant,Corey(Pittsburgh)Brown, Devan Bogard,Tyvis Powell,Adam Griffin,& Najee Murray!
Now, we could argue about Tracey Sprinkle, Joey Bosa, Billy Price, Jalin Marshall , Eli Apple, Cam Burrows, Evan Lisle,Jayme Thompson, Darron Lee, Christopher Worley, & even Michael Hill/Donovan Munger, but let's not.
We are all overjoyed to see the offensive uptick w/UFM. Because it's all we had to moan about as spoiled fans: "Tressel-ball!!!) Yet, let's be realistic. This NC will be  Tressel talent, with a little Urban seasoning!! 

nickma71's picture

I am excited that the OSU is once again controlling the line of scrimmage, where the game of football is won and lost. It most definitely got away from the Senator during the run of the walrus. There was almost never any push aside from playing the nerds.

niblick's picture

we've been spoiled beyond description since 2001, plain and simple.

WC Buckeye's picture

So true. I loved Earle and thought the folks who complained about 9-3 every year were a little off base at the time, and although Cooper could recruit and produce NFL-caliber talent like crazy, we all know how that went. We have been absurdly spoiled - there are a whole lot of D-1 schools and fan bases who would love to have had the run we've had, really, since 1980, but more particularly since 2001.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

sb97's picture

I have a real problem with the statement:
"Time heals all wounds, though, and it appeared last November that fans were forgetful of Tressel’s violations when he received a hero’s welcome at the Michigan game. Later that afternoon, Meyer’s Buckeyes finished a 12-0 season but were denied an opportunity at playing for the national championship due to Tressel’s inaction with the NCAA."
1.  Its not that people forgot what Tressel did.  We all remembered.  How could we forget, the media at large reminded us every chance they got.  The reality is JT lost his job and in some respects his legacy.  He screwed up but that doesnt mean that he should be shunned in perpituity. Tressel paid what he owes and I have no problem celebrating his positive accomplishments both on and off the field.  Why should I waste my time focusing on the worst parts of the Tressel era when the good, far and away outweighed the bad?
2. It wasn't just Tressel that got us banned.  There was a goodly number of players that broke rules in the first place.  They knew what they were doing was wrong and chose to do it anyway.  The argument that they are just kids holds no water with me.  We may well have avoided the bowl ban had we not had the slow leak of issues surface (Robert "Bobby" DiGeronimo is a good example).  Sure Tressel played the biggest role but there are plenty of people that need to share in the blame.  Gene Smith said it best in an ESPN article:
"Smith said in a statement that the school accepts "that we should have done more to oversee Mr. DiGeronimo's activities."
"On a personal note, I deeply regret that I did not ensure the degree of monitoring our institution deserves and demands," Smith added."

andretolstoy's picture

I still don't believe that Tressel did anything wrong. Why report something that had been (and still is) accepted for years at many schools as a loophole for kids to make extra cash to buy food, go on dates, or pay for parents' rent? If they're buying drugs, slapping girls around, then throw the book at them, but selling their stuff for rent or a show?? As if only football players sold their things on Ebay? As if our 'run of the mill' students don't jump at getting something for nothing if they can while in college? Right. And this happens only at theOSU, right? But he broke the rules - blah, blah, blah. The NCAA, yadda, yadda, yadda - we follow the rules at our jobs ... why shouldn't he? gobble, gobble, gobble ...
Yeah I mean, sure the cop that stops the driver that goes 10 over the limit is doing his job since that person broke the law. He did, he broke the rules by going 10 over - But then again, while he is doing this someone else in the neighborhood is committing highway robbery or worse and getting away with it. Moral equivalency ... what's this?
And as topper - six months ago the University sold old gear on their 'licensed' website for $100 a pop? What hypocrisy. When I was in High School, Ohio State was giving away their shoes, their pants, etc. Charity right? Write off, right? That gear belongs to the University, right? Right. And all the  freebies that Credit Card companies give away on campuses to lure kids into criminal interest rates is a-ok by the NCAA and the University. The overbloated book prices (and then selling them back at 100% loss), and parking is a-ok, right? The kids should know better, right?
I'm not about paying the college athletes. Maybe a stipend to get an extra taco, or something. But give me a break if a kid sells the shirt off his back that he sweat (or did worse) on. Or if he traded it for a tattoo. Heck, sit the boy down and tell him that desecrating his body is immoral, teach him that perhaps traditions are good for the soul, but not that the ideal of barter and trade is. This is ludicrous. Our sense of right and wrong is totally out of whack. We crapped on the players for selling their 'gold paints' and we chided them about traditions. Tomorrow, NIKE will make a mockery of our uniforms and we're going to jump for joy. What hypocrisy.
If anyone is guilty of the win-at-all-costs mentality it sure ain't Tressel. It's the fans, and even the higher ups at the University who pushed Tressel under the bus at the prospect of getting Meyer. And no disrespect to Coach Meyer. He also didn't do anything wrong.
Leave Coach Tressel alone, finally. Let him do what he loves. He has given us enough.

fear_the_nut70's picture

You are confusing "not wrong" with "should not be wrong."  It is absurd that kids were given possession of these things and yet, according to the NCAA, they did not own them until they graduated.  This is beyond stupid.  That said, everyone involved knew this was the case and did what they did anyway.  Then, someone from the Buckeyes admin decided to try and bury this (as I said above, I am not 100% convinced JT didn't tell his superiors).  So, for the most part, I don't buy what you are selling above.

andretolstoy's picture

I'm not really selling anything. However, I am stating how I see things.
I see you my confusion on "not wrong" "should be wrong" to your "possession" "owning" :) Perhaps, I base my standards more on a Golden Rule than that of office rules? I guess technically my boss has every right to fire me for taking an office pencil home, or printing personal stuff on a company printer. But, since we happen to have somewhat of a budget that can absorb my "unfair advantage" that he marks it off as a bit of a perk. You see, football players can get more for their jersey or autograph than say, a Lacrosse player, so the NCAA has to punish them and 'make things fair.' Call it redistribution? Or maybe an opportune moment to get even with the man who didn't allow them in the locker room? Or even the "right moment" to avalanche the man who was never going to get rid of a mediocre offensive coach? Who knows, I guess I'm just confused? :)
I'm not sure if Jim Tressel told anyone or if he was surprised by the sudden "fact" that he had too? Especially, since he reported a lot more serious stuff in the past this one really must of have left him stumped - perhaps a little broken hearted when the media turned it into 'murder' while his superiors twiddled their thumbs. My guess is that he saw the writing on the wall, he saw that backs were turned, so he just went with the flow hoping not to take others down with him. He broke an office rule, he admitted it, and took the consequences.

45has2's picture

Buckeye Faithful, all hail James "The Weasel Slayer" Tressel. I disagree with the presumption that, in part, JT kept silent because of the promise of the up coming season. How many opportunities has Jim had to turn his back on Mo Clarrett? And I mean AFTER Mo's playing days at TOSU were over. On the contrary, he has gone out of his way to help Maurice get tryouts and opportunities.  I think Tressel has demonstrated that he "adopts" his players as his own and will walk through fire for them regardless of their past transgressions. 
With JT as with Woody, I refuse to let one bad moment of judgement soil what was a great career at TOSU. 
After all that, man, I'm glad we have UFM! 

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

chillyd65's picture

Listen, the rules JT and the boys broke are silly and outdated and if I'm not mistaken, are being looked at for change at just about every meeting the NCAA higher ups have. But for me, it wouldn't have mattered if JT had even paid a recruit like Jim O'Brien did for that Ukranian dude (can't remember his name now) before Thad came around. Bottom line, the man beat scUM and let's all be honest, that's the biggest measure of a coach at tOSU isn't it? Always has been in my 47 years!! That's why Cooper got bounced right!

andretolstoy's picture

Boban Savović - Montenegrin.

chillyd65's picture

Thanks for the info Andre. Although Savovic and O'Brien did have trouble at tOSU, after "Googling" Savovic, Aleksandar Radojevic's name came up and this is the guy I was talking about. Doesn't matter which, they were both incidents I could've lived with as long as we beat those jack wagons from up north!! By the way, my last name is Meyer, been thinking about playing the long lost cousin thing and scoring some good tickets!! Go BUCKS!!!

Buckeyeneer's picture

I think Jimmy O gave him cash for the right reasons, even though it was wrong in the eyes of the NCAA. Boban was not the sort of player that you pay to get them to come and stay as OSU. I simply remember him being a turnover machine.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

OSUs12-OH's picture

I was wondering if you or anyone would write an article about this.  It was on my mind a lot more than I thought it would be yesterday.  I'm not sure I liked how it went down, but I'll say this, it may have been the best thing for OSU football with the direction things were going with the Three pinnacle situations that had transpired since 2001.  1.  Mo Clarrett, 2.  Troy Smith, and 3rd and final chapter with TP.  
Yes, I know, I've heard it all about the Matt Hayes article and all this and that about Urban Meyer and FL.  He's openly said that his last year at FL was a regret (along with regret from time missed with family).  Now was this the lack of talent or 4*and 5* guys that didn't pan out..??  Know one knows for sure but this can be said.  12-OH in his first year, with or without those being Tress's guys, doesn't matter to me.  Urban has learned from the past and will not do things that way again.  All I know is Urban's home and I'm happy he is:-)

"I want a hungry team. I want a team that can't wait to get out there. I want an angry team! You're the Ohio State Buckeyes. You're an angry football team. You're a hungry football team and I'm proud to be your coach." UFM

Hovenaut's picture

I'm just happy and proud that all involved, even the lay fan such as myself, stuck through it all thick and thin.

For all the mudslinging, I'd say Buckeye football took that crisis and dealt with it the best way possible - Looking at you Oregon, Auburn, Miami, et al.

Though not perfect, and who is, I miss Tress. But I sure like where this team is today.

Tomorrow doesn't look too shabby either.

What a difference two years makes, not many programs can go through similar times of trouble and recover like our program has.

OSUs12-OH's picture

What a difference two years makes, not many programs can go through similar times of trouble and recover like our program has.

A lot of people will call our fan base this and that as far as negativity (arrogant, full of ourselves or whatever).  However this point you made above was what I thought of way more than the three examples I pointed out (I just pointed those out bc it was the demise of the program IMO to put one player above the rest).  Good stuff Fred;-)

"I want a hungry team. I want a team that can't wait to get out there. I want an angry team! You're the Ohio State Buckeyes. You're an angry football team. You're a hungry football team and I'm proud to be your coach." UFM

Poison nuts's picture

Great comment Hovenaut!

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Hovenaut's picture

Here to help, thanks brother.

sb97's picture

One thing I would like to point out.. I really did like this article and agreed with the majority of it despite my earlier post.  Sometimes I feel bad when being critical of an article on this site because I do appreciate the hard work the staff puts into it (that doesn't just go for this blog, I feel the same way about other blogs like tBBC).  I tend to treat these articles like discussion points.  Sometimes you agree, sometimes you dont.   The thing is, I don't often acknowledge the ones I agree with.  As a result, sometimes I feel like I am being overly critical.

Buckaroo's picture

Jim Tressel has always been a model of integrity and genuine care for his players. He noted that he saw coaching as his ministry to youth. A man with his exceptional track record of doing things the right way doesn't just forget all that he stands for as a person. It has never been proven that Coach Tressel didn't verbally inform Gene Smith's compliance staff. IMHO the Athletic Director's office blew it and JT was simply a good soldier and took one for the team.
The much larger issue is that NONE of the actual Tat5 perpetrators of misdeeds were punished on a level commensurate with JT. I FIRMLY believe that each should have been mandatorily held out of professional football for the same 5 years that JT is spending in purgatory. THAT type of action will go far in changing the attitude of Primary Donna college players! They messed up, they should equally pay!


9Route's picture

amen Buckaroo

I'm just happy to be here

OSUs12-OH's picture

I will always love Tress, but he allowed some of his players to think they were above the university and above all the team (I'll never forget hearing about a SR player telling TP to put his helmet back on during a game in 2008-2009 season and the coaches supported TP.  That's the problem on the field...let alone off it.  That was his Freshman year for cring out loud).  Did the compliance department and Gene F-up?  Of course but just like Donnie Nickey said, Tress was the fall guy (that I agree with but it was at his own choice to not divulge that info to EVERYONE which he did fail to do and tried to cover it up). The scandal is never as bad as the cover up.  That's the bottom line. 
Lets just hope that culture never seeps back into the halls of the WHAC and OSU's campus.  If it does....look out!

"I want a hungry team. I want a team that can't wait to get out there. I want an angry team! You're the Ohio State Buckeyes. You're an angry football team. You're a hungry football team and I'm proud to be your coach." UFM

DannyBeane's picture

I will say I will missing cheering for the perfect punt an nailing like 95% of field goals. Oh wait a sec no I won't because touchdowns are awesome.

OSUs12-OH's picture


"I want a hungry team. I want a team that can't wait to get out there. I want an angry team! You're the Ohio State Buckeyes. You're an angry football team. You're a hungry football team and I'm proud to be your coach." UFM

redfox's picture

While i want to thank JT for what he did by winning games at OSU i could not stand his tresselball offense and i want to thank him for us getting Urban Meyer.