Raise your hand if you thought you'd see the day when the local paper of record would publish a report shooting down speculation that Jim Tressel would lose his job. To call recent developments surreal would be a bit of an understatement. In the time it took for Earth to spin once on its axis, Jim Tressel is suddenly mortal, a flawed human just like the rest of us.
As punishment for sitting on information that would have led to immediate NCAA violations, the university suspended Tressel for the first two games this fall (Akron and Toledo, both at home), issued a public reprimand/apology in the form of an emotional, and at times awkward, press conference that was televised and streamed to millions, fined him $250,000 and said he will attend a compliance seminar.
As it stands, the announced punishment (and the startling realization that a man you admire is fond of double exclamation points) would probably be just fine with most of us. The NCAA may agree, or it may not. We'll have to wait and see where things go on that front, but I have a hunch OSU's self-imposed punishment will be in the vicinity of what the NCAA has in mind.
Now, on to what we do know.
Tressel has earned the right to survive this. Can you imagine if this had happened in year three of John Cooper's tenure, or even year three of Jim Tressel's stint at Ohio State? The Buckeyes would be kicking off a search for a new coach. It's a pretty standard clause in most (if not all) coaching contracts and breaking it leads directly to termination, but Tressel has amassed enough support and built up enough of a track record to get through. Gene Smith was adamant about this fact at the start of the presser and Gee later echoed it with weird joke about hoping Tressel does not fire him (between that zinger and Smith's line in December about adding a tattoo artist to the WHAC, I really wish our administrators would lay off the funnah for a bit).
What all of this means about Tressel's future beyond this season is uncertain. His current contract expires in January 2015, and I think most assumed he'd coach through the 2014 season before moving into a role within the athletic department. He'll definitely be on the sidelines this season -- and I can't stress how great it is that he'll be here to face the music instead of running off to the NFL in dire times -- but does this violation accelerate his timetable at all?
Trolls, trolls, everywhere trolls. We're going to take our lumps over the coming days, but let's face it, if this was any other coach in the country, he would instantly become the most cheating-est (new word, look it up) coach in the history of the world in your eyes. Protecting your own and vilifying others is just a natural aspect of fandom and is part of the game (see also: politics). That said, there are reasonable ways to approach this story and then there are not.
And then there's stuff like this. Clay Travis a) is a middle-aged man that still rocks a fitted cap backwards, b) mistakenly claims to have coined the phrase "Bama Bangs" and most importantly, c) a Tennessee fan. Glass houses and all, but a trollin' ain't easy.
Finally, there's the local clown, rocking a haircut straight out of Footloose and saying whatever he can to invoke mass heart attacks across Franklin County. We have to bust our asses to get press passes. How does this guy have an auto-pass again?
None of this is fun to read (or hear), but we're just going to have to take it for the time being. Of course, a Cam Newton bombshell on Monday morning would be a welcome diversion. Or Oregon. Or USC. Anyone, really.
Start the "we'll be dropping 60 a game jokes". Ohio State did not announce which lucky coordinator would be elevated to the HC spot during Tressel's suspension, but Heacock has to be the odds-on favorite at this point in time. Unlike recent seasons with Darrell Hazell serving as assistant head coach in addition to his duties with the receivers, Tressel does not have a named lieutenant. Bollman is the offensive coordinator, while Heacock and Fickell are co-defensive coordinators. Both Bollman and Heacock have been with Tressel during his entire tenure in Columbus, but Heacock's Ohio State experience dates back to 1996, when he was hired as the team's defensive line coach. Besides, fans would lose their collective shit if Bollman were to be tabbed as acting head coach while Tressel serves his suspension.
At any rate, it will be fun to at least joke about the offensive possibilities with Tressel stuck at home on game day. For two Saturdays at least, perhaps the punt won't be the most important play (though I imagine Tressel's spirit will be alive and well in whatever gameplan is put together).
Yahoo! deserves some credit. While Robinson and Wetzel probably don't quite deserve the credit they're claiming, there's no questioning the fact that the Y! sports team is head and shoulders above the other major outlets (ESPN being the worst) when it comes to investigative journalism. If this had been Auburn, instead of Ohio State, we'd be applauding their efforts. In fact, we did so when they put USC through the grinder. It sucks today, but in the end, that's a good thing for all college football fans.
In case you missed it: The debut of Ramzy's regular 11W column is must-read. He's going to elevate our game.... We have video of the presser... OSU's self-report to the NCAA is here... The emails, in all their glory, are here.