With reports surfacing Monday that Ohio State had, as expected, received their “notice of allegations” from the NCAA, and even as it contained no “new” information, the Jim Tressel “situation” seemed to get that much more real for Ohio State.
In appearances throughout the day yesterday on various ESPN platforms, a trio of high-profile ex-Buckeyes got down to straight real talk when it came to the current head coach at tOSU. And, to their credit, they refused to bite their tongue when it came to their former school.
Perhaps the strongest words came from former OSU running back Robert Smith, who heavily intimated that he doesn’t see this ending any other way than The Vest losing his job.
“Quite frankly … the information may be there, but I haven’t heard anything that in my estimation wouldn’t lead to his firing,” Smith said by way of the Detroit Free Press.
While not going as far as Smith, former quarterback Kirk Herbstreit, the most polarizing ex-Buckeye amongst the TV talking heads, “think[s] it would be very difficult moving forward with Jim Tressel” as OSU’s head coach, even as the school appears to be solidly behind Tressel at this point in time. And even as Buckeye Nation is “blindly” supporting the institution and coach.
“The Ohio State fan base is blindly just supporting Ohio State and Jim Tressel,” Herbstreit said. “It’s almost gotten to the point where he beat Michigan, he wins 10 games, he goes to BCS bowl games and they’ll support him no matter what he does as far as the fan base. If this would have happened to John Cooper, not only would they have fired him, they would have actually lined him up at a firing squad and fired him.”
Herbstreit, who created a stir earlier this year when he revealed that he was forced to move his family from Columbus to Tennessee due to a “relentless… 5 to 10 percent of the [OSU] fan base”, on the one hand believes that ”people are being a little unfair to (Tressel’s) character”. On the other hand, Herbstreit notes that “the bottom line is he broke the rules by the NCAA” and that such a situation makes it “very difficult after you do that to go into the future homes of recruits and try to recruit and try to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to do things the right way’ when you have this in your background.”
For ex-OSU linebacker/bad ass in perpetuity Chris Spielman, the recruiting issue is not really an issue at all, despite all that’s gone down in regards to The Vest over the past few months.
“If my son’s ever good enough to play for Ohio State, I want him to play for Jim Tressel,” Spielman said.
That said, even Spielman, who acknowledges a close relationship with Tressel, can see that a well-deserved hammer from the NCAA is coming.
“I think if you’re a true fan of Jim Tressel and a true fan of Ohio State, you understand that there has to be action taken against his mistakes that he’s made,” Spielman said. “He’s admitted he’s made mistakes and I think … the NCAA’s going to come down hard. I don’t think you can have a coach who knowingly put ineligible players on the field and you’re not going to take those games from them last year. …
“I think his intent was pure, but his actions justify the punishment that’s coming his way.”
Just what that punishment will ultimately be remains to be seen. Will the NCAA be satisfied with the self-imposed five-game suspension and $250,000 fine? Or, because of Tressel’s blatant dishonesty and outright lying, will the NCAA make an example of Tressel and turn him into the coaching equivalent of Dez Bryant?
Those were the same questions the NCAA was facing when it came to Bruce Pearl before Tennessee took the decision out of their hands by firing their men’s basketball coach. We still say that, barring any negative future revelations, OSU will not go the UT route. Then again, out of the 120 Div. 1-A head football coaches, we would’ve thought Tressel would’ve come in right around No. 120 on the list of coaches who would’ve participated in a cover-up, let alone be the mastermind behind it.