Buenos Dios amigos y bienvenidos a tus Thursday Skull Session. It's Cinco de Mayo, and depending on your perspective it's either an inoccuous statement of the date or an obscure Mexican holiday that Americans use as an excuse to drink gallons of Jose Cuervo. I, for one, plan on imbibing a Corona or two in honor of our southern brothers. After all, it's not often Mexicans can trade war stories with Germans about the utter incompetence of the French.
For those less familiar with the holiday, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the victory of Mexico over the French in the 1860s. Sadly, the French went on to steamroll the Mexican army and place a puppet ruler in charge. In another example of the utter absurdity that was European politics, the French invaded Mexico to recoup debt by installing a relative of the Austrian Archduke as the Emperor of Mexico. Like the Holy Roman Empire, the Empire of Mexico wasn't much of an Empire. Once the U.S. got it's shit in shape and ended the Civil War, General Grant re-asserted the good old Monroe Doctrine and helped kick the French out, in an example of one of the few times the U.S. actually helped Mexico. On a somewhat unrelated note, Ulysses S. Grant was a badass.
Anyway, enough with the history lesson. Today's theme is The Other Blogs, what do they say? Who do they fancy? Why are people reading them and not us? What do sportsfans think about Kate Middleton's dress? Was Barack Obama's Birth Certificate Bin Laden's last Horcrux?
Wait, what? Our first stop on the BlogoTour is LandLoyalty, a blog about Cleveland sports. Writer Tim Ertle thinks the Buckeyes lack of marquee names the last two drafts will come back to haunt them. With only one player drafted in the first two rounds over the last couple of years, Mr. Ertle thinks players may begin to question Tressel's ability to develop players.
Now, there's little doubt that a school's ability to put players in the league is a recruiting advantage, and Ohio State hasn't had the number of draft hits it had in the middle of last decade, but I think it's a little premature to think the lustre is off the program. Besides, although I'm skeptical that Ohio State is twice as good at developing talent as Florida, hadn't we already determined Tressel was one of the elite?
What Distractions? Adam Rittenberg over at ESPN released his list of the top teams in the B1G coming out of spring. Banking on a heavy dose of Dave, Rittenberg expects the Buckeyes to lay the lumber on defense and hold onto the ball on offense to try and coast through the first five games:
Quarterback is certainly a concern for the first five games, but Ohio State likely will be able to survive, thanks to the run game, defense and special teams -- classic TresselBall.
Can't argue with that.
As for the rest of the teams, Rittenberg mostly sees a redux of 2010, with the notable exception of Iowa. Considering the heavy losses on defense and the graduation of All-American Hero Ricky Stanzi, that's not a bad bet. Whether Michigan can pull itself out of the gutter with their newly refurbished offense will go a long way toward determining the rest of the conference.
Got your back, coach. The O-Zone interviewed Doug Worthington concerning his thoughts on the Tat-5 situation, and what should come as no surprise, the big man thinks Tressel did what he thought was right. There are certainly questions surrounding the FBI investigation and it's role in leading Tressel to withhold information, but by and large it's broadly understood that the Cicero e-mails largely disabuse anyone of that notion. The O-Zone, putting Worthington's comments into perspective:
If Tressel was indeed afraid for his players, his fears were realized in December when Ohio State received a letter from the United States Department of Justice outlining the involvement of as many as 10 players—past and present—with Rife.
Even then, Tressel chose not to come forward with what he had already known for eight months. It wouldn’t be until after the Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas that Ohio State officials uncovered the email exchanges with Cicero, but none of Tressel’s actions to this day have changed anything in the eyes of Worthington.
While it's not surprising to see former players support their coach, it's still comforting. It's unlikely that Tressel is a mercenary conman who only looks out for #1 if all of his former crew constantly and consistently vouch for his character. Say what you will, but I respect a coach who screws up supporting his players more than a coach who screws up supporting only himself.
Why so serious? Peter Bean over at Burnt Orange Nation brings the indignation over the Boise State situation. For those who haven't heard, Boise State has been issued allegations of a 'lack of institutional control.' That is essentially the worst possible violation a school can commit. However, said violations included, among other things, a recruit sleeping on a player's couch. With total misconduct totalling only $5,000, most of which were minor (including a $2.34 charge), there has been much scratching of heads. In addition, the Tennis coach commited an especially serious violation that will likely lead to that program undergoing heavy sanctions.
Boise State committed a handful of ticky-tack violations, the like of which Ohio State has self-reported by the dozens over the years (as has every other school on the planet), and the NCAA -- in conjunction with one major violation -- concluded, "This might be a lack of institutional control."
Think that through to its logical conclusion. On the one hand, you have a rogue tennis coach, trying to slip one by... well, no one, because no one is paying attention to Boise State tennis. Or any other tennis program, for that matter. On the flipside, we have Jim Tressel, who was trying to slip unquestionably ineligible players into... the Fiesta Bowl.
Now, I'm no lawyer (yet), but in what way does Boise State's culpability in various NCAA infractions reflect on Ohio State? While I understand Peter's reaction to the NCAA's seemingly absurd allegations with respect to the BSU football program, that has nothing to do with the eligibility of the Tat-5. The NCAA had full knowledge of the extent of the Tat-5's violations, and rendered their verdict with that knowledge in mind. It's done. Kaput. Over. There is nothing more to be said about Terrelle Pryor, Solomon Thomas, Dan Herron, Mike Adams, and DeVier Posey. The question left unresolved deals exlusively with Jim Tressel and his withholding of information.
That said, a lack of institutional control deals with the athletic department, not just the coaching staff of a specific sport. Whether Jim Tressel is a lying, cheating, piece of human excrement is immaterial. If Boise State's athletic department knowingly allowed a non-collegiate player to suit up (something that, one would assume, the university should certainly know about considering you have to, you know, register for classes and everyting), that's a far cry from a coach lying to his athletic department about violations.
Regardless, pointing to Ohio State and saying "They were worse!" is not a particularly interesting argument at this point, especially when comparing apples and oranges.