|Only just that U-M benefit from Tressel's resignation (very long) ...||Reply|
Bri’onte Dunn, come on down? With the news of Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel’s resignation, the four-star running back and others are now back on the market. And the “family atmosphere” that proved to be nothing more than a facade and a house of cards in Columbus is real and alive in Ann Arbor, and it could lead to a seismic shift in Midwest power.
It would be a just occurrence given the stacked deck the Wolverines have played against for the last decade.
Several state of Ohio recruits have said in recent months they’d wait to see what happened to Tressel before deciding to commit (or, in Dunn’s case, de-commit). All eyes are now on Dunn, defensive ends Se’Von Pittman and Adolphus Washington, wide receiver Dwayne Stanford and so many others who could help create a monster recruiting class. And while the company line in Columbus will no doubt be “stay the course with [assistant and interim coach] Luke Fickell," how can recruits - or anyone else, for that matter - be certain Fickell and the rest of the Buckeyes coaches will be around a year from now? That it won’t be discovered that they, too, had knowledge of the goings-on in Columbus?
It’s hardly a far-fetched notion, and frankly, who wouldn’t consider that at this point?
For years we’ve been implying Tressel wasn’t what he appeared; rather, a snake in a sweatervest. Finally - thanks, in part, to the Feds’ involvement in Ed Rife’s tattoo-gate - we get an inevitable conclusion to what amounts to 10 years of fraud, capped by juicy details that are sure to come in Sports Illustrated and elsewhere, some of which are already leaking and that have reportedly led to further suspensions for the players involved.
As one good friend of mine, a respected attorney and Michigan grad wrote this morning, “You just have to know that this hasty resignation is motivated by (1) the soon-to-be-published SI article and (2) a hope by the administration that if his resignation is offered up as a sacrificial lamb to the NCAA, the NCAA will go lighter on them.”
Looking back, Tressel wasn’t OSU’s first choice to succeed John Cooper in 2001, and with a little digging, the Buckeyes brass probably could have found ample reason not to hire him.
But did they ever really care?
History would indicate no. “Just beat Michigan” was apparently good enough for the higher-ups, too, still reeling from the John Cooper era.
For the last several years, we’ve heard, one compliance department (not OSU’s, obviously) has been keeping its own file on the Buckeyes and their transgressions on the recruiting trail. It had gotten to be an inch and half thick, and that was as of three (or so) years ago.
We can only imagine what Tressel might have been thinking while Michigan was being investigated for practicing too many hours under head coach Rich Rodriguez. If he didn’t already feel like the cat that ate the canary …
There have been other, more public OSU transgressions, too, from running back Maurice Clarett to quarterbacks Troy Smith and - most recently - Terrelle Pryor. Publicly, it was the laissez-faire, “nothing to see here” attitude that seemed to make them all disappear. Folks close to it, though, told us it was the strong-arm tactics (like the kind that led to Clarett’s ex-communication from the program, to those more recently from former players (via Twitter) against Ray Small when he essentially told the truth about what’s been going on in Columbus for years) that really put the kybosh on the Buckeyes being exposed … and that it wasn’t just the players doing the strong-arming.
Protect the family at all costs, or risk alienation and excommunication - that was the “family atmosphere” in Columbus - but they’d begun to believe their own lies (Tressel included), and history indicates that’s usually the beginning of the end.
Word has it, though, that the bullying tactics weren’t flying recently like they once did. Essentially, many - and especially family members of kids - were getting tired of Tressel’s garbage. By year 10 he must have figured he could get away with anything, probably because he had for the better part of a decade, and his reactions - refusal to apologize, continuing his “stay the course” mentality - seem to indicate a guy who believed he was invincible.
Such signs were there years ago, too, which is why it stunned me when I spoke to a Michigan player’s dad a few years back and learned he was thinking of sending his kid to Ohio State from U-M, citing lack of family values as the rationale. It wasn’t my place to try to convince him otherwise - we don’t get involved in the process - but I do recall saying, ‘everyone has their skeletons, you know,’ thinking of Tressel, of course.
And you wonder now what Mike Boren and his family must be thinking having sent two of their kids to Columbus (and a third, Jacoby, on the way). For the record, I like Mike and had a great relationship with him. Hopefully the “Michigan Man” in him allows for some remorse and that he hasn’t been fully assimilated as a Buckeye (in other words, that he doesn’t share the line of thinking, “well, we have our two rings and didn’t lose to Michigan!” like much of the rest of the deluded OSU fan base).
If I were him, I’d be on the phone with Brady Hoke to ask him if he could use a hard-nosed fullback like son Zach, knowing that Hoke is beyond reproach and as much a real family man as there is. But that’s just me.
Where does Ohio State go from here? Hopefully not the way of some of the NCAA’s repeat offenders (many in the SEC) and doing what they’ve known - which, as one former Michigan standout you know well and who posts here, alleges has been going on since long before Tressel arrived. A former college roommate of mine who works with a former Buckeye quarterback, too, told me he was getting tired of hearing “they’re going to enjoy those bonus checks!” every year his Bucks beat Michigan, insinuating that he certainly enjoyed his “back in the day.”
My friend wasn’t certain if he was joking or not. It appears more and more that he wasn’t.
Maybe the Buckeyes surprise and look for their own Brady Hoke rather than the next snake oil salesman (oh, the irony) in a wizard hat trying to convince everyone how saintly he really is. More likely they’ll try to find the guy that can fix this mess quickly and get back to beating “That School Up North,” following the SEC “we just need to hide it better” model.
Either way, here’s hoping that Michigan benefits from OSU’s troubles, and that the worst of them get exposed. It would be the fitting and fair extension to Tressel’s fraudulent regime in Columbus.
From the Wolverine .com Chris Balas