Tressel docked, but what does it take for a coach to get fired?

Not on his To-Do List: "Find out about tatto parlor." (AP photo)

Not on his To-Do List: "Find out about tatto parlor." (AP photo)

Jim Tressel said he’d “get on it ASAP” and didn’t get on it at A-L-L, and now the famous Ohio State coach has been fined a quarter of a million bucks and precluded from coaching two games. And that giggling you hear is from other coaches who’ve long believed the man in the sweater vest is just as, er, human as anyone else in his cutthroat business.

Stipulation: Tressel is a good coach, one of the best, and seems — I say “seems” because he goes to great lengths not to reveal much about himself — to be an OK guy. But his program at Youngstown State was penalized (and Tressel cited for not investigating closely enough), and his BCS title with the Buckeyes was won largely on the legs of the infamous Maurice Clarett. Now this.

When last Tressel’s team played, it was with five players, including the noted quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who had been handed NCAA suspensions for their part in the memorabilia-for-tattoos case that had, in April 2010, been called to Tressel’s attention via e-mail. (This prompted the “ASAP” response, which was followed by … nothing.)

Even some Buckeye fans were appalled that The Ohio State University would stoop so low as to use players who’d already been banned for five games  in the crass attempt to break that 0-for-forever postseason losing streak against the SEC. (Mission accomplished, FYI: Ohio State beat Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, barely.) But now Pryor and Friends get to sit at the start of the 2011 season, and suspended alongside them, at least for the first two games, will be the coach who’d been given reason to be suspicious long ago.

At a press conference Tuesday night, OSU president Gordon Gee — not to be confused with Gordon Liddy — was asked if he’d considered firing Tressel. “No,” Gee said. “Are you kidding?”

All kidding aside, someone needs to ask: What exactly does it take for a big-time coach to get fired? Consider:

• Bruce Pearl is still coaching Tennessee basketball after admitting he lied to NCAA investigators and then, four days after his sobbing admission, managing to make illegal contact with recruit Jordan Adams, a junior from Lawrenceville who plays at Oak Hill Academy.

• Jim Calhoun is still coaching Connecticut basketball despite being cited by the NCAA for failure to foster compliance, which means he didn’t much care if anybody around him was cheating.

• Jim Tressel still gets to coach Ohio State after doing nothing when he should, at the barest minimum, have asked, “Is this true?”

Pearl was suspended eight games (by the SEC); Calhoun has been suspended three games (by the NCAA); Tressel will be suspended two games (by OSU). But not one of them has been fired for not doing what the the NCAA and every self-respecting university would identify as Job 1 — respecting and playing by the rules. The president of The Ohio State University even laughed off the suggestion: “I’m just hoping [Tressel] doesn’t dismiss me.”

And there you have it, an admission in the form of a joke. The same Gordon Gee who sought to put sports  in their place by abolishing the athletic department when he was president at Vanderbilt now turns into Henny Youngman and essentially concedes that this particular football program matters more than the the reputation of his current university.

And people wonder why so few take this blather about “student-athletes” seriously. The cold truth remains as it has been for decades: If you’re a student-athlete in a cash-cow program, you’re an athlete first. And you’d better believe your coach is the biggest man on campus.

By Mark Bradley

287 comments Add your comment

Buck Commander

March 9th, 2011
10:01 am

Back in the Danger Zone!!

Buck Commander

March 9th, 2011
10:03 am

Oh Well, somebody has to do it. FIRST AGAIN!!

SmyrnaMan

March 9th, 2011
10:03 am

Losing to UCF in the liberty bowl

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 9th, 2011
10:05 am

Worm

March 9th, 2011
10:07 am

The Ohio State and Stanford’s panties are showing.

T-Bone

March 9th, 2011
10:07 am

Am I first? Did I make it in time?

JB

March 9th, 2011
10:07 am

IF this was Mark Richt…If this was Georgia…….2 games would be the least of it. This is a joke. The NCAA does not hand out justice fairly. Ohio St is a Protected program.

Buck Commander

March 9th, 2011
10:08 am

After reading your article Mark, you are right on target with this one.

JB

March 9th, 2011
10:08 am

I know the two game was self imposed….Sorry…Let’s see what the NCAA does.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 9th, 2011
10:08 am

Big time coaches that are winning won’t be fired for anything short of getting caught on camera passing the cash to a player. if the fans and alumni were already calling for his job because of say two terrible seasons he would be gone.

Mark Bradley

March 9th, 2011
10:09 am

Thanks, Buck C. And I offer kudos as well.

g'villertr

March 9th, 2011
10:09 am

lose consistently to your rival will get you fired, unless your rival is UF

T-Bone

March 9th, 2011
10:11 am

It is time to abolish all of these silly NCAA rules, and go ahead pay the players. This is a business and the players are the employees. Let’s quit fooling ourselves.

NoGaGator

March 9th, 2011
10:14 am

In our bizarro world, somewhere out there Bruce Pearl is ssaying thank you, thank you, Mr. Sweater.

headley lamar

March 9th, 2011
10:15 am

Losing will get you fired but cheating. Nope.

bucket

March 9th, 2011
10:17 am

I would imagine that this situation @ OSU is far from resolved as far as the NCAA is concerned. The NCAA had to pull off some moral gymnastics in order to allow the 5 “future suspended” players to participate in the Sugar Bowl. I doubt they will be that generous to OSU the second time around.

sec fan

March 9th, 2011
10:17 am

Wonder what Dez Bryant thinks of the penalties for coaches lieing. He lost an entire season for lieing to the NCAA about a lunch. The NCAA is totally gutless when it comes to coaches breaking rules and lieing. The bigger the school the more gutless the NCAA becomes. Now if Tressel was a black coach at Grambling, the NCAA would ban him for life. Outside of OSU fans, the happiest two people in the world with this situation are Lane Kiffin and Bruce Pearl. Their offenses just became very insignificant if there is to be any semblance of consistency by the NCAA. Those thinking the NCAA will drop the hammer on Tressel are dreaming.

Dawgdad (The Original)

March 9th, 2011
10:18 am

JB, is right this is a joke! Tressel should be fired for willfully covering up a serious violation in order to keep alive, what he thought was going to be a championship season.

If he is the Worlds Greatest Football Coach and can’t be duplicated as mr gee (whiz) thinks, the NCAA needs to step in and suspend him for one year and put the team on probation, with stiff penalties for two years, minimum.

Poisonous Nut

March 9th, 2011
10:19 am

Wait until the Tressel/Herby love tapes are released.

Dawgdad (The Original)

March 9th, 2011
10:21 am

T-Bone, if you pay them to play, they will then have more money to buy drugs and tats, and we will be investigating them for other things, so what is the point.

JoeFan

March 9th, 2011
10:23 am

Integrity is clearly not something required at many universities comprising the college football BCS group. It is way past time for the NCAA to step up and hand down penalities, including the “Death” penalty, that are severe enough to eliminate the corruption that appears to be over whelming these institutions. BCS college football needs a thorough cleaning if there is anyone out there strong enough morally to take a mop and broom to it.

headley lamar

March 9th, 2011
10:24 am

Wait until the Tressel/Herby love tapes are released.

I dont know about that but either

1. Herby will be on ESPN spinning this thing like crazy

or

2. They wont mention it at all.

wdm

March 9th, 2011
10:24 am

Obviously, from your own recent history of trying to get Richt fired for a bad season, it takes more than hatemongering from so called journalist like you.

Saint Richt

March 9th, 2011
10:24 am

What Tressel did was WAY worse than Bruce Pearl. So far Bruce has lost $1.5M, 8 SEC games and been cited by the NCAA for violations, what are you going to do NCAA????????????

If I were head of the NCAA....

March 9th, 2011
10:27 am

…I would make Tressel resign,
…make OSU forfeit all wins from the ‘10 season, including the Sugar Bowl win,
…return all bowl money,
…reduce scholarships by 10 for two years,
…suspend all players involved for the ‘11 season(they got to play the whole ‘10 season),
…and put them on double secret probation for five years with the next step being the Death Penalty.

Then I would abolish the silly rule about selling “personal items”.

I wonder how this is being received in Stillwater and Chapel Hill?

Howard

March 9th, 2011
10:28 am

Another reason for me to conclude that this recently completed college football season was one of the most disturbing and corrupt and insane one ever. I really have lost my taste for this one-time wonderful phenomena called “Division I college football.” Tressel was probably just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, Sports Illustrated, in light of its recent feature on football players and past criminal records, should next do a feature on college football coaches and their prior offenses.

Gator Mike

March 9th, 2011
10:29 am

I am in no way an Ohio State fan, but I feel bad for most of their fans and alumni. The 5 Amigos should not have played in the Sugar Bolw Game, and Chris Spielman (Buckeye Great) said that on the Mike And Mike show this morning.
It was not fun when the Gators got smacked in the late 80s for being unethical. It is time for the NCAA to get off of their pompous butts and hammer the likes of Tressel, Pearl, Kiffin, etc and their respective universities. If the rules are not strictly enforced, the NCAA and all of their rules should be dissolved. I wonder what the arrogant Big Ten Commissioner (Delaney) is gpoing to say about this incident.
The Buckeyes did it to themselves. Enjoy the misery!

BobDawg

March 9th, 2011
10:31 am

.. OK, Buckeye…. what say U???? BTW..Mark, I heard Tressell is a Master at Raising funds for Ohio State… Raises Millions….. That is why Gee said what he said…

TRUTH HURTS THEM, NOT

March 9th, 2011
10:31 am

if Ohio State had a losing record or lost to Arkansas and Michigan, Tressel would be a no good SOB and fired. It is ridiculous for a coach to get suspended for two sister of the poor games. And no one at that university has a bit of shame, no one.

Calhoun needs to give the 2004 national championship trophy back and give it to GT. Pearl is a disgrace and a coward. I am sick of these lying shameful buffoons acting as if they are the truth of anything making 7 figures and not blinking eye about what was uncovered.

YOU ARE ALL LOW LIFES, TRESSEL, PEARL AND CALHOUN

Opelika Hampton Inn night manager

March 9th, 2011
10:32 am

When the Federal Bureau of Investigations releases their docs on the Victoryland dog track winnings of certain AU football players and the fact that Daddy Newton never, ever lost a bet there, well, the wheels will come off.

AU …………. be nervous, be very nervous ………it is coming.

TRUTH HURTS THEM, NOT

March 9th, 2011
10:33 am

Enter your comments here

schmeckdawg

March 9th, 2011
10:34 am

2 games…REALLY! And who does OHOHO State open with for the games Tressel will be suspended, their usual Sister’s Of The Poor, and the JV team from a local high school! And 250K for the fine, he probably gets more than that for his coaches show. The NCAA & The OHOHO State University are both jokes!!!!!!

Gator Mike

March 9th, 2011
10:35 am

Oh, I bet the folks in An Arbor, MI are laughing today.

Gator Mike

March 9th, 2011
10:36 am

I mean Ann Arbor, MI! Sorry.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

March 9th, 2011
10:37 am

Mark,

Stealing from Cowherds show its about credits and debits. Tressel simply has enough credits at OSU and now he is forced to cash them all in. If this were a coach at OSU who had not one a BCS Title,dominated Michigan and won several Big 10 Titles he would already have been dismissed. Make no mistake all Tressel chips are cashed in and if he slips up again OSU will be forced to fire him. Is this stance right? I do not know, but this seems the most logical take on the story.

GTBob

March 9th, 2011
10:37 am

The NCAA has been criticized a lot lately for being a joke of an organization. It will be interesting to see how they handle this situation. If they accept Ohio State’s own punishment then they are officially owned by the major schools in the country. The evidence is pretty huge in this case and making a coach miss the Akron and Toledo games is barely a punishment.

BUFFOONS ALL OF THEM

March 9th, 2011
10:37 am

Tressel is a shameful, gutless wonder. Getting suspended for two sisters of the poor games is ridiculous. Pearl and Calhoun likewise. None of them even blink an eye over their shame. COWARDS YOU ALL MAKE ME SICK

kteezy

March 9th, 2011
10:37 am

Jim Tressel will not be fired because he’s consistently won ballgames. He needs to be suspended at least as many game as those players will miss next season. Then he made them promise to come back next year and knew that he had been withholding information that needed to be told. Cam’s dad, manipulating the system and so did Jim Tressel to get more wins last season.

bucket

March 9th, 2011
10:37 am

@ Head of the NCAA. Good post. I personally wish the NCAA would target the coaches more when they pass down punishment, especially in situations where the coach was directly involved in instigating or covering up violations. I don’t like the fact that schools like Tennessee are going to be punished for stuff that the previous staff did. I agree that AD Hamilton knew or should have known what Kiffin and Orgeron were up to, but the vast majority of Tennessee employees, players, and fans should not suffer while Kiffin continues to make millions. Tressel should be fired and banned from coaching for awhile to send a message to the coaches to clean up their houses. Instead, I’m sure the people that were the least responsible for the shenanigans in Columbus will suffer the most from the NCAA’s punishment.

gcs

March 9th, 2011
10:37 am

Not only will Tressel will be suspended two games but the opponents are Akron and Toledo. I think Ohio State could win those games with a mannequin wearing one of Tressel’s sweater vests as head coach.

Former YSU Chick

March 9th, 2011
10:38 am

Come on – This is still the “old boy network”. Athletic associations and coaches start turning their backs with high school sports. Everyone wants to be a “winner”, and will do what they can to be there or stay there. We are making MONEY for the schools -not developing athletes. College football is in reality semi- pro football. The NCAA tries to govern the schools – but not every rule is followed. I equate this with Clinton and his female problems – it isn’t a problem unless you get caught ! ! !

Andy

March 9th, 2011
10:38 am

Losing is what it takes to get fired. If you cheat and win you keep your job.

DZ

March 9th, 2011
10:39 am

Basically, Tressel’s excuse was “oops”.

Tressel, Gordon Gee and AD Gene Smith are disgraceful. They should all be fired.

dw

March 9th, 2011
10:40 am

Pretty harsh analysis coming from the heart of the most corrupt cabal of schools in the NCAA, the SEC. True, this tattoo incident is ’scandalous’ in the normal squeaky-clean Big Ten (carpetbagger Rich-Rod aside). But weigh the severity of this firable offense (your estimation) side-by-side with the garden-variety of rule-mocking incidents that occur by the hour in the SEC before you go getting all self-righteous, Mr. Columnist.

KB

March 9th, 2011
10:40 am

1) all wins from 2010 should be vacated
2) Players involved should receive a season suspension as should Tressell
3) Loss of minimum 6 scholarships per year for 2 years.
4) Send the sugar bowl trophy to Arkansas

Josh

March 9th, 2011
10:40 am

What does it take for a coach to get fired? In Tressel’s case, losing two in a row to Michigan would probably do the trick.

Seriously, it doesn’t matter how corrupt (whether actively or passively) these coaches are as long as they run a profitable program. Even though they’re supposed to be representing UNIVERSITIES, it’s clear that the Almighty Dollar is really the determining factor in their continued employment. Embarrass the university, undermine its standing as an ACADEMIC institution, but don’t you ever, and I mean EEEEEEEVER, disrupt the flow of cold hard cash you’re bringing in, or heads will roll.

Now is the time...

March 9th, 2011
10:41 am

…for 24 teams to secede from the NCAA and form a Super Conference. They can pay the players, make going to class optional and allow them to participate in the free enterprise system in American business. They can have four divisions, a playoff at the end of the season with the division winners. The only caveat is, the school gets 50% of the profit and the football team, not the AD, gets the other 50%.

JB

March 9th, 2011
10:41 am

The BCS does EVERYTHING it can every year to get these guys in the title game.Even with a loss and those 8 or 9 pansy games they play every year.

JB

March 9th, 2011
10:43 am

Now is the time……..Auburn will be the first to secede….LOL

PMC

March 9th, 2011
10:43 am

Perhaps the Big 10 simply isn’t scrutinized by the NCAA as much as the SEC.

It’s not like anyone at the highest level does anything differently. They have boosters at Ohio State that are just as fanatical as anywhere else in the country.

When it comes to paying bills no one gives a crap about academics.