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Tag:Ohio State
Posted on: May 26, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 10:50 am
 

Ray Small now has to talk to the NCAA

Ray Small has to talk to the NCAA now doesn't he?


I don't mean in the legal, compelled sort of way. The association doesn't have that kind of power. But if the former Ohio State receiver is going to tell the student paper The Lantern that he sold his gear for extra benefits and "everyone was doing it", Small needs to sing to the NCAA.


Just for the sheer theater of it, if nothing else.


Small told the paper that he sold his memorabilia for cash because he, like other athletes, was struggling financially. He had four Big Ten rings. "There was enough to go around." He said there friendly car deals. He said Ohio State athletes, "don't even think about [NCAA] rules."


Tell us something we don't know to this point, Ray. And yet, in the middle of a scandal that threatens to take down coach Jim Tressel -- along with AD Gene Smith and president Gordon Gee -- hearing it from a new, recent Buckeye source makes it more compelling.


That's why Ray Small has to talk to the NCAA. In fact, Wednesday's story has the possibility of not meaning much unless Small does speak to the NCAA. The association can't make him talk with an enforcement officer because he is a former player. The NCAA doesn't have subpoena power. But if he doesn't, Small looks, well, small.


He can rat out his teammates and shoot his mouth off to the student paper but his words lose their punch unless Small has the stones to back it up in front of the NCAA. Without his cooperation, what he has alleged can be investigated by the NCAA and certainly puts Ohio State in a more negative light, but Small can skip a bunch of steps by calling enforcement director Julie Roe Lach right now.


If what he says it's true -- and it's detailed enough to make me believe -- then we now know there is a long history of cheating at Ohio State. I can hear some of you laughing out there: "Well, duh!" True, but the NCAA needs some kind of evidence to make a case. Or in this case, make a big case a blockbuster. Why stop at just Tressel hiding emails?


The NCAA already has plenty of evidence the Tressel case. In fact, there isn't much disputing of the facts. Tressel covered up. Tressel knowingly played ineligible athletes. You can't even say that about Reggie Bush and USC. He was rogue -- one guy -- and, unless something else emerges to the contrary, Pete Carroll didn't know. Small's comments suggest a widespread culture of cheating.


Well, duh
, indeed.


Even Gene Marsh, The Vest's mouthpiece, may have to admit that even with his misguided shot at "some dot-com writer somewhere."
 


(Dear Gene: Without those dot-com writers -- they're called legitimate media, by the way -- you would be sucking air for clients.)


Save the NCAA some work, Ray. If you're a man, the best way to use this information is to formalize it with a call to the NCAA. Here's the number if you need it: 317-917-6222.
 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: NCAA, Ohio State
 
Posted on: May 8, 2011 5:45 pm
 

Responding to last week's cfb bombs

Proving once again there are no offseasons ever in any sport, these bombs dropped during my vacation last week. Each one deserves a response from this space's department of justice ...


The Bomb: Pac-12 agrees to a 12-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and Fox.

The Response: The first thing that came to mind: Larry Scott is gold. The commissioner was hired to drag the sleepy Pac-10 out of its past and rocket it toward a lucrative future. In less than two years, he delivered big time. As of right now, Scott can pretty much write his own ticket as a sports CEO. I'm talking about commissioner of baseball, the NFL, head of the U.S. Olympics, maybe even the next president of the NCAA. (More on that later in the week). 

Scott delivered because these commissioner jobs have evolved into giant fundraising endeavors. Sure, every once in a while a commish has to suspend or fine someone but that's small stuff. The commissioners' mandate from the presidents they serve is to make as much money as possible for the schools. Mike Slive and Jim Delany, two powerful guys with powerful NCAA backgrounds, had been the best at it -- until now. In less than two years Scott reshaped and repackaged his conference in such a way that it became the most lucrative league television property in history. Remember, this is a guy who sees profit centers in China for UCLA gear. 

The question now becomes what the Pac-12 schools do with their windfall. You can be sure that most of it won't be spent adding sports. There's a reason that only 10 or so schools out of 120 in I-A are turning a profit. The cash will go to the bottom line -- existing facilities, recruiting and coaching salaries. Adding non-revenue sports adds nothing to the bottom line. 

In other words, the Pac-12 just became a player for the likes of Urban Meyer. I'm not saying Meyer will be hired in the Pac-12, I’m saying that the Pac-12 can now afford coaches of his stature. UCLA, not exactly Fort Knox when it comes to paying coaches, now has the ability, if it chooses, to pay Meyer if it fires Rick Neuheisel. The question is not whether it will, the reality is that it can make that call without getting hung up on.


The Bomb: The Department of Justice writes the NCAA and asks, "What's up?" about a playoff. 

The Response: First, I'm not even sure Justice sent the letter to the right person. Mark Emmert and the NCAA he oversees has minimal control over college football in general and almost none over postseason football. Emmert's answer should be short and to the point: The reason we don't have a playoff is because the membership doesn't want it

Never mind that the NCAA technically isn't responsible, the commissioners seemingly have a way of diffusing any coming legal challenge.

"We never could have believed the regular season would have grown over the last 15 years like it has grown," said Delany, the Big Ten commissioner. "I think that's due, in part, to the BCS. We did what we set out to do, which is [stage] a 1-2 game, preserve the bowl system and grow the regular season ... We feel like we're on good [legal] ground. We never know about what a judge or jury could do, [but] we feel like we've got good representation."

I talked to noted anti-trust attorney Tom Rhodes about this issue last week. He isn't concerned for the BCS, calling the letter a political issue, not a legal issue, adding that assistant attorney general Christine Varney's interest is a "war dance" not a "war." Rhodes also intimates that Justice is a political animal that serves a president who made populist statements about a playoff while trying to get elected.

"It's important to understand what the letter does not say," Rhodes told me. "It doesn't say, 'You're in violation of the anti-trust laws.' ... Second thing is, if she [Varney] thought she had a case she wanted to bring she'd have brought it already. The third observation I would make is that the Department of Justice often has to be responsive to the political realities of the world. A political reality here is [Republican Utah Senator] Orrin Hatch is important to the administration.

Hatch has been a constant critic of the BCS but you wonder who his constituency is at this point. Utah is now in the BCS club. BYU, by its own choosing, went independent electing to join Navy and Army in having the worst BCS access in I-A. Those three schools will be considered if any finish in the top 14 of the BCS, but they are assured of a BCS berth only if they finish 1 or 2 in the final standings.

"People who are going to go to war usually don't spend a bunch of time jumping up and down with a war dance," Rhodes added. "This letter is consistent with the idea that Justice can do a war dance and if the BCS then makes a change, the [Obama] administration can claim, 'Look what we've done.' " 

Think of it this way: The BCS has been called in for questioning but no one is ready to make an arrest.


The Bomb: Ohio State will investigate the sale of cars to Buckeye players and their relatives at two local dealerships. 

The Response: I think I speak for everyone when I say there are few people in this world more trustworthy than used-car salesmen. Yeah, right. Those 14 magic words have, at some point, rung in all of our ears: "What's it going to take for me to put you in this car today?"

Next thing you know you're meeting the finance manager and making chit chat about how much you make a year. Having jaw surgery is more pleasant. Yep, something smells about the school now investigating 50 sales to determine whether players or relatives received price breaks (translation: extra benefits). My dad was a car salesman. Never once did he mention that cash-poor college kids were an untapped customer base. 

So now the case goes to the Ohio State compliance department which is the collegiate equivalent of those used-car salesmen. This is the crack group that forgot to tell the Buckeye Five that selling their gear to a tattoo-parlor owner was against the rules. This is the sharp-minded department that decided to check Jim Tressel's computer after it was way too late. Yep, they're the ones you want searching for the truth with the program potentially eligible for the death penalty.

"I have nothing to believe a violation has occurred," Doug Archie, head of Ohio State compliance, told the Columbus Dispatch.

Sorry, but we've heard it before: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

If this case has legs -- or rather, keys --  greasy car salesmen will be the least of Gene Smith's problems. Ohio State could be looking at lack of institutional control and a postseason ban, two penalties it has so-far dodged. But, damn, the Buckeyes will still have a badass set of wheels.
Posted on: April 26, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 12:27 pm
 

Will Ohio State avoid a postseason ban?

Was Ohio State cut a break in its notice of allegations from the NCAA? So much so that the school may avoid a postseason ban in the Jim Tressel case?

Draw your own conclusions from these conclusions: While the 15-page NOA delivered last week seems fairly damning, it does not contain the NCAA's scarlet letter designations -- "failure to monitor" or "lack of institutional control". In most cases, the allegations are made by the enforcement staff in the NOA. Either can be added by the committee on infractions in the penalty phase but that is a rarer occurence. Despite the depth and scope of Tresselgate neither were included in regards to Ohio State. 

Failure to monitor is more specific in terms of points of oversight in a specific area of the athletic department. Lack of institutional control says there is little or no oversight in general regarding a case. Go to the front of the NCAA Manual. The "Principle of Institutional Control" reads like the opening sentences of the Book of Genesis. [Emphasis added}

"It is the responsibility of each member institution to control its intercollegiate athletics program in compliance with the rules and regulations of the Association. The institution’s president or chancellor is responsible for the administration of all aspects of the athletics program, including approval of the budget and audit of all expenditures.

"The institution’s responsibility for the conduct of its intercollegiate athletics program includes responsibility for the actions of its staff members and for the actions of any other individual or organization engaged in activities promoting the athletics interests of the institution."

Merely taking into account the information in the NOA, it's hard to believe that Ohio State didn't get lack of institutional control. Its head coach lied and systematically circumvented the system by hiding damaging emails. I've said this in the past but this case comes down to the following: A 67-year old businessman in western Pennsylvania knew that Terrelle Pryor's name had popped up in a federal drug trafficking investigation before either the Ohio State AD or president


That's bad enough. What a lot of folks have forgotten is the beginning of this case. Part of the reason those Ohio State players were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl was they "did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred," according to the NCAA. Once they got that rules education, another game was added (for a total of five) to the players' suspensions that take effect this season.


So if you're like me, you're wondering how an athletic and compliance department that didn't educate its players on an extra benefit rule that is considered common sense in the industry, didn't get cited further by the NCAA. Ohio State AD Gene Smith threw his compliance department under the bus back in December saying the nine-member staff was "complicit" in the violations because they did not make the extra benefits rule clear to players. We can argue why Ohio State got a break for its players when it is assumed that everyone knows, or should know, you can't sell your memorabilia. The point now is, why didn't Ohio State at least get "failure to monitor" when the NOA was delivered last week? 


Both the NCAA and Smith called out the compliance department. That's a helluva place to start in assigning the scarlet letter.


An answer might be found in the manual. One of the presumptive penalties for a lack of institutional control violation is a postseason ban. It was described to me by a veteran of NCAA cases this way, "There is a higher presumption of a postseason ban," with a lack of institutional control. The manual states that a postseason ban is likely "particularly" when the violations reflect a lack of institutional control. There are almost always mitigating circumstances in these cases, but it seems by not citing Ohio State's oversight, a postseason ban is off the table. 


That doesn't necessarily mean Ohio State won't get a bowl ban. The NCAA alleges in the NOA that Ohio State is a repeat violator, meaning that it has committed another major violation within the allowed five-year window. While OSU won't get the death penalty -- one of the possible penalties for being a repeat violator -- it could received enhanced penalties because of the repeat designation. Because of that, maybe the NCAA didn't feel it was necessary to allege lack of institutional control. The school already has hung itself for being a serial violator.


The case isn't over and who knows what will develop between now and when the penalties are released which, at the earliest, seem to be midseason? But if you read between the lines it seems that a postseason ban is unlikely. Think more in terms of at least two years probation, a vacation of wins from 2010 and perhaps some scholarships. The juiciest question, though, remains whether Tressel will coach again at Ohio State. Without answering that question at the moment, I will leave you with bylaw 11.1.2.1, "Responsibility of Head Coach".


"It shall be the responsibility of an institution’s head coach to promote an atmosphere for compliance within the program supervised by the coach and to monitor the activities regarding compliance of all assistant coaches and other administrators involved with the program who report directly or indirectly to the coach." 


Category: NCAAF
Tags: NCAA, Ohio State
 
Posted on: April 25, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 7:02 pm
 

Ohio St. case takes another step toward ... what?

As predicted in this space, the NCAA is fast-tracking the Ohio State/Tressel case, and no matter what happens it looks like Jim Tressel has not coached his last game at Ohio State. If there is any good news to the school getting its notice of allegations from the NCAA, that's it.

The notice comes less than four months after the Buckeye Six (soon to be five) were suspended in late December.

To no one's surprise, Tressel is accused of unethical conduct for hiding those emails and knowingly playing ineligible players. The NCAA says that Ohio State could be treated as a "repeat violator" meaning that technically it is eligible for the death penalty. (Settle down Bucknuts, it won't happen).

It is compelling to finally see in print that the NCAA has officially alleged that Ohio State competed with ineligible players on the field. Beyond Tressel's unethical conduct, that is the essence of the case. USC competed with one ineligible player (Reggie Bush) and look what it got -- a two-year bowl ban and the removal of 30 scholarships over three years.

Using that as example, is it fair to assume that Ohio State will receive similar penalties? If so, it doesn't look like those will impact this season. In other words, Ohio State could compete for the Big Ten and national championship in 2011, less than a year after the school announced the initial player suspensions.

That's the same reason why it seems that Tressel will coach this season. Ohio State will reportedly appear before the NCAA infractions committee on Aug. 12. Typically, penalties follow six to eight weeks after such a meeting. Considering the depth and scope of the case, finalizing this case could take much longer. Tressel already has been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season. Using UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun, as an example the NCAA isn't likely to add to the suspension this season.

UConn's penalty came down in the middle of last season. Because of that, Calhoun's three-game suspension was put off until the 2011-2012 season. That makes things even more sketchy at Ohio State. Applying that history, a bowl ban, scholarship reductions, etc., would be put off until 2012 as well.

Then if the NCAA decides to add to Tressel's five-game suspension, does it, say, add on five games at the beginning of the 2012 season? And at that point, does Ohio State figure the hit is too big and take further action on Tressel? Yes, I'm suggesting the f-word. Firing. But not this year. When he is actually on the sideline, the man wins a lot of games.

Are five games enough? On page 5 of the notice (NOA), Ohio State is asked to provide a detailed description of disciplinary actions taken against athletic department officials involved in the inquiry. Specifically, " ... explain the reasons that the institution believes these actions to be appropriate ..."

Will Ohio State be vacating or forfeiting games? The NCAA also asked for the school's win-loss record the last four seasons and the dates and results of postseason competition.

Most damning for Tressel: The NCAA says he had knowledge (through the now-infamous emails) that two players -- Terrelle Pryor and DeVier Posey, though the names are redacted in the notice -- were selling memorabilia to local tattoo-parlor owner Eddie Rife. That means that players competed while ineligible with Tressel's knowledge, a significant violation. Tressel already had signed a document on Sept. 13 saying he was unaware of any wrongdoing. In the NOA, the NCAA has asked for a copy of that form.

Tressel said on March 8 he did not reveal the emails with superiors due to "confidentiality" concerns. However, Tressel did share them with a Jeanette, Pa. businessman Ted Sarniak who has a relationship with Pryor.

Former USC coach Todd McNair was accused of unethical conduct in the Reggie Bush and given a one- year show cause order that essentially did not allow him to work in 2010. He is appealing that ruling separate from USC's appeal of the June penalties.

Columbus Dispatch research showed that since 2006, the NCAA has penalized 28 schools for violating bylaw 10.1 dealing with unethical conduct. There were 13 head coaches involved in those cases. Only one kept his job.

The NCAA did seemingly have a sense of the dramatic. The NOA was delivered to Ohio State president Gordon Gee on Friday, the day before the spring game.

Posted on: March 31, 2011 8:56 am
 

HBO fouls it off; college athletics just foul

There hasn't been much good news at all for Auburn since Wes Byrum hit that field goal at the gun to beat Oregon.

That was 80 days ago. Makes sense that it seems like the football program has been around the world.

If it wasn't someone poisoning their oak trees, it was their former Heisman winning quarterback under investigation by the NCAA. And now this: Failing to get any more dirt on Cam Newton, HBO settled for four former mostly-disgruntled Auburn players who said they received extra benefits at the school. I received an advance copy of the "Real Sports" Tuesday. Maybe it's the age we live in, but when Stanley McClover started talking about hundred-dollar handshakes, it hardly registered.

Isn't that what the SEC calls "game week"?

Now it's a national story, I guess, but until we have a) a paper trail and b) names, this is an athletic version of "Entertainment Tonight." SEC-schools-paying-players is the equivalent of Lindsay Lohan entering a courtroom. Sooner or later you get numb to it all. (Although Lindsay does dress better.)

There's also the issue of the NCAA's statute of limitations. The association sets a prosecution limit of four years from the time of the wrongdoing. Most of the payments mentioned came between 2001-07. An NCAA official told me Tuesday that the association is interested if the players want to talk, but the trail is so cold will there be any footprints leading investigators to the offending sugar daddies/coaches? 

The NCAA can re-open cases beyond the statute of limitations -- this one seems juicy enough -- but where does it find the time? Also Wednesday, ESPN reported that infamous seven-on-seven entrepreneur Will Lyles solicited upwards of $80,000 from Texas A&M to land cornerback Patrick Peterson


Let's not forget that Bruce Pearl is waiting to see if he can ever work again at a major college. USC is awaiting its appeal in the Reggie Bush case. Remember those carefree days of last June? I guess what I'm saying is, don't get antsy. The USC case took four years and is still going on, with at least one lawsuit sure to follow if an appeal isn't won. These Auburn players could have their own web-based cyber-shows by the time the NCAA gets to them -- "Who Wants to Be A Deadbeat?" 

OK, so the fact that these guys might not have been upstanding citizens shouldn't matter. Wrong is wrong. And we shouldn't diminish HBO's reporting. I didn't get those guys to talk. Neither did anyone else. When you hear $7,000 for a car, that's starting to get into some serious Maurice Clarett-type money. But admit it, we've got bigger, more tangible scandals to concentrate on. Jim Tressel tried to upstage the cable network Wednesday by "apologizing". Well, apologizing for things he can't discuss. I'll translate: Tressel is so sorry that he allowed five of his players to compete while ineligible than he's genuinely worried about his job. That kind of sorry. 

Oh, and pay attention to the man behind the curtain. That's Luke Fickell who was introduced as interim coach when Tressel starts working only six out of every seven days a week. The five-game suspension is so serious that Tressel will, get this, actually miss game day.

Anyway, back to Auburn. The players' allegations don't involve just the Tigers. McClover said he had sex while on a visit to Ohio State. LSU and Michigan State are mentioned too in the cavalcade of hundies. It's been a dreary offseason for the Tigers, one big hot mess. If it wasn't already, confidence in the system is eroding. But until the NCAA sends out that message, a corrupt system is going to keep operating. Alabama had four major violations in 14 years. It won the national championship (2009) in the same year as its last one. Newton's daddy solicited money at Mississippi State. The kid skated, remained eligible, because of a loophole in the NCAA rules.

Some obscure six-year-old language allowed the Buckeye Five to play in the Sugar Bowl. Talk about a competitive advantage. Disgusted? Yeah, well, at least we have the annual refreshing bowl experience to cheer us up. Oh wait...
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: March 31, 2011 8:55 am
Edited on: March 31, 2011 8:55 am
 

HBO fouls it off; college athletics just foul

There hasn't been much good news, at all, for Auburn since Wes Byrum hit that field goal at the gun to beat Oregon.

That was 80 days ago. Makes sense that it seems like the football program has been around the world.

If it wasn't someone poisoning their oak trees, it was their former Heisman winning quarterback under investigation by the NCAA. And now this: Failing to get any more dirt on Cam Newton, HBO settled for four former mostly-disgruntled Auburn players who said they received extra benefits at the school. I received an advance copy of the "Real Sports" Tuesday. Maybe it's the age we live in, but when Stanley McClover started talking about hundred-dollar handshakes, it hardly registered.

Isn't that what the SEC calls "game week"?

Now it's a national story, I guess, but until we have a) a paper trail and b) names, this is an athletic version of "Entertainment Tonight." SEC-schools-paying-players is the equivalent of Lindsay Lohan entering a courtroom. Sooner or later you get numb to it all. (Although Lindsay does dress better.)

There's also the issue of the NCAA's statute of limitations. The association sets a prosecution limit of four years from the time of the wrongdoing. Most of the payments mentioned came between 2001-07. An NCAA official told me Tuesday that the association is interested if the players want to talk, but the trail is so cold will there be any footprints leading investigators to the offending sugar daddies/coaches? 

The NCAA can re-open cases beyond the statute of limitations -- this one seems juicy enough -- but where does it find the time? Also Wednesday, ESPN reported that infamous seven-on-seven entrepreneur Will Lyles solicited upwards of $80,000 from Texas A&M to land cornerback Patrick Peterson


Let's not forget that Bruce Pearl is waiting to see if he can ever work again at a major college. USC is awaiting its appeal in the Reggie Bush case. Remember those carefree days of last June? I guess what I'm saying is, don't get antsy. The USC case took four years and is still going on, with at least one lawsuit sure to follow if an appeal isn't won. These Auburn players could have their own web-based cyber-shows by the time the NCAA gets to them -- "Who Wants to Be A Deadbeat?" 

OK, so the fact that these guys might not have been upstanding citizens shouldn't matter. Wrong is wrong. And we shouldn't diminish HBO's reporting. I didn't get those guys to talk. Neither did anyone else. When you hear $7,000 for a car, that's starting to get into some serious Maurice Clarett-type money. But admit it, we've got bigger, more tangible scandals to concentrate on. Jim Tressel tried to upstage the cable network Wednesday by "apologizing". Well, apologizing for things he can't discuss. I'll translate: Tressel is so sorry that he allowed five of his players to compete while ineligible than he's genuinely worried about his job. That kind of sorry. 

Oh, and pay attention to the man behind the curtain. That's Luke Fickell who was introduced as interim coach when Tressel starts working only six out of every seven days a week. The five-game suspension is so serious that Tressel will, get this, actually miss game day.

Anyway, back to Auburn. The players' allegations don't involve just the Tigers. McClover said he had sex while on a visit to Ohio State. LSU and Michigan State are mentioned too in the cavalcade of hundies. It's been a dreary offseason for the Tigers, one big hot mess. If it wasn't already, confidence in the system is eroding. But until the NCAA sends out that message, a corrupt system is going to keep operating. Alabama had four major violations in 14 years. It won the national championship (2009) in the same year as its last one. Newton's daddy solicited money at Mississippi State. The kid skated, remained eligible, because of a loophole in the NCAA rules.

Some obscure six-year-old language allowed the Buckeye Five to play in the Sugar Bowl. Talk about a competitive advantage. Disgusted? Yeah, well, at least we have the annual refreshing bowl experience to cheer us up. Oh wait...
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: March 30, 2011 2:14 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2011 4:01 pm
 

Ohio State coach Tressel comes clean. Not really

There are senators in D.C. who are now signing up for "The Jim Tressel Filibuster Method: P-90X Stonewalling, the ultimate workout."

What occurred at lunchtime Wednesday in Columbus brought down a further shroud of secrecy over a coach known for both his shrouds -- he calls them sweater vests -- and secrecy. Ohio State's embattled coach surprised few and talked to many by saying absolutely nothing in his first media availability since his reconsideration of a two-game, self-imposed suspension earlier this month.

Tressel spent approximately 22 minutes at the beginning of his spring press conference revealing, well, nothing. He referenced the "catastrophe in Japan" and the long snapper situation, but the 800-pound gorilla in the room went unmentioned. Really, what did you expect except a few morsels for serial tweeters to dissect?

"I haven't really had those reflective times in the last couple of months." No ----!

"We're very fortunate to have a tremendous group of five kids." Well, not for the first five games.

The money-shot question was asked right at the end of the 50-minute presser: Will the five-game suspension stand? "That's the last thing I could talk about," Tressel said.

Clearly, because no one, including the coach, knows if Tressel will be able to coach at all in 2011, or ever again at Ohio State. It's not like the NCAA doesn't have anything to do enforcement-wise these days, but Ohio State has to be at the top of the list. The association must decide before the season on Tressel. The fact that it took him two self-imposed suspensions to get it "right" has to be a factor. So do the forwarded e-mails to a 67-year old businessman in Jeanette, Pa. businessman who knew Terrelle Pryor's name had popped up in a federal drug-trafficking investigation before the Ohio State president and AD. The plot thickens. The issue now is not only when did Tressel know about the Buckeye Five but when did his superiors know it?

If you read between the emails, er, lines Wednesday, it's clear Tressel is preparing the world for the Luke Fickell era. After those 22 minutes, Tressel turned the microphone over to the linebackers coach/co-defensive coordinator. On Wednesday, the 37-year old Fickell was promoted to assistant head coach and interim head coach. You read here that Fickell should get that title when Tressel has to give up the job. 

"What I owe to Ohio State is 24/7," Tressel said alluding to the fact he cannot coach on game days for those first five weeks. "I know as the season begins next year it may be 24/6."

Levity. Great. At the end of the presser, it was refreshing to know the coach didn't violate anyone's confidentiality -- again. Ohio State should know that this scandal has just begun, but the response is going to be completed quickly.

"No little storm, no big storm is going to affect what we've done," Fickell said.

Wanna bet?

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: March 25, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2011 5:39 pm
 

Is this it for Jim Tressel?

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Gene Smith is supposed to be here in Anaheim on Saturday. As chairman of the men's basketball committee, it is his duty to make the rounds during the NCAA tournament.

Arizona and UConn play Saturday for the right to go to the Final Four. Don't keep a seat warm for Smith. He is also Ohio State's athletic director, which makes him a bit preoccupied these days.

Friday's revelation  that Jim Tressel forwarded emails to a mentor of quarterback Terrelle Pryor might be the deal-breaker for the Buckeyes coach. Remember, these are the emails that he wouldn't share with his superiors because Tressel was worried about "privacy" issues.

Apparently the emails weren't sensitive enough to keep from a 67-year-old owner of a Jeanette, Pa., glass company. It's hard to envision Tressel lasting any longer as this coverup builds. It's only a matter of time and definition -- when the coach will leave and what it will be called. Firing? Resignation? It doesn't really matter at this point.

Here's why Friday's news is so damning: If you remember at the March 8 press conference, Tressel was asked by Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel if the coach had shared the emails with anyone else. As Tressel started to say yes, Smith intervened saying that couldn't be discussed, that there was an ongoing investigation.

Reminds us once again that the cover up is always worse than the crime.

This particular situation doesn't necessarily reflect badly on Pryor or Ted Sarniak, who was well known during the quarterback's recruiting process as a mentor. It was to the point, according to a source, that recruiters were dealing with Sarniak more than his high school coach. I was in Jeanette during that recruiting process and went to interview Sarniak at his Jeanette Glass Company offices. It was unannounced because I couldn't track him down on the phone. I was never able to find him.

The school vetted the relationship between Pryor and Sarniak, according to the Columbus Dispatch .

"He's [Sarniak] not a bad guy and he's got money," a person close to Pryor told me. "I don't think he did it [mentored Pryor] for the money."

This is more about Tressel. On the surface, he not only withheld information regarding -- let's not forget -- a federal investigation from his superiors. He also went off the reservation in sharing the emails with a person outside the university. Not even a parent -- a "mentor." Let's be clear: A glass company owner in western Pennsylvania apparently knew Pryor's name had popped up during a federal investigation before Ohio State's president or athletic director.

Poor Gene Smith. His basketball team is driving for the Final Four. That Final Four is a week away and Smith is in charge of it, the NCAA's top moneymaker. But those issues probably aren't in the top five in his mental Rolodex at the moment. We'll know for sure if there is an empty seat at courtside Saturday at the Honda Center. 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com