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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel's Cover Up Results in a Paid Vacation and Top 5 Team

Thanks to EDSBS & LSUfreek for the candid Tressel photo
Jim Tressel first heard about specific NCAA violations regarding several of his star players last April and decided to reveal some knowledge of it in December, but only after being investigated about it.  That seems like a pretty honest mistake right?  Except his $3 million contract stipulates that he has ensure his team is operating at all times within the NCAA guidelines and will alert the school's compliance officer if at any point they fail to do so.  Well he failed to live up to his contract and his intentional withholding of information was discovered earlier this week which resulted in Ohio State slapping him with a $250k fine and 2 game suspension of their own.  My problem with that punishment is that by covering up the violations he probably made more than $250k for winning the Sugar Bowl, with what should have been suspended players.

This whole mess with the Tattoos is dumb.  Players traded some of their Ohio State memorabilia for some free tattoos.  This is not a big deal.  Unfortunately the NCAA is awful and feels that this is an improper benefit for a student athlete because a regular student wouldn't have that opportunity.  Yeah.  That's seriously the rule.  Does anyone think that Terrelle Pryor brings the same value to Ohio State as some kid who absolutely dazzles in his Intro to Philosophy class?  No you don't.  It's not close.  So if Pryor wants to trade a t-shirt for some ink and a local tattoo parlor couldn't be happier to put his autographed t-shirt on their wall for some free tats, I don't think anyone should care.  But the NCAA does care because without them enforcing these rules, then there would be no reason to have the NCAA.  Unfortunately what Tressel did was far worse because it violates the NCAA guidelines, his own contract, and everything that he publicly stands for.  

Tressel has built his reputation on being the upstanding high character Head Coach in a sweater vest, but we are finding out that that might not be the case.  His cover up and subsequent denial are egregious.  In December when he was confronted with the accusations that his players had swapped gear for tattoos he acted as though he had just learned of it when in fact he'd known for eight months.  Then the coaches and school quickly acted to suspend the five players for the first five games of 2011 rather than the bowl game because they did the honorable thing by coming forward about it right away and then acted quickly to correct the situation.  Which they specifically did NOT do.  

After these recent allegations have come to light, it's very clear what Tressel did.  He covered it up all year long so his team could keep winning games.  Then he let it leak in December when it would have the smallest impact on his team because he knew they could suspend the mostly Junior group of "guilty" players the following season rather than for the Sugar Bowl game.  This decision benefited Tressel and Ohio State in two ways.  He could convince his group, largely made up of star Junior players, to return for their Senior year because it was the "honorable" thing to do rather than hiding from the punishment by going to the NFL.  By moving the punishment to 2011, he was also able to play them in the Sugar Bowl which gave him a much better chance of winning.  By winning that game he most likely earned a large BCS Bowl Win incentive built into his contract.  From what I've seen most big time coaches have that clause or something similar and it is usually between $200k and $600k.

Despite being suspended for the first 2 cupcake games of next year and fined $250k, Tressel has essentially come out of this with a win.  At worst, he is down $50k and his team has a chance to develop the young talent for the first 5 games before those suspended stars come back.  They will then have an experienced and deep team ready to make another BCS run next year because he retained five star players that probably would have otherwise been playing in the NFL. He'll be in a great position to earn another huge bowl bonus.  Seems like Tressel really knows what he is doing.  This is just another reason why watching Ohio State always makes me feel slimy.  It's clear that some recruiting shenanigans are going on there too simply by the fact that ANYONE GOOD GOES THERE.  Seriously, why are top recruits going there when they can go somewhere cool like USC, Florida, and Miami, or even stay close and go to Penn State?

You should also check out EDSBS's 2009 series on Jim Tressel's vacations.  Part 1, 2, 3, 4.

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NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments

Big East Tourney: UConn beats G'town
As you may have noticed we are creeping right up on Selection Sunday which is like Christmas for Bracket Nerds.  That also means that we are right in the middle of College Basketball's conference tournaments.  Many tournaments are an all or nothing affair because many conferences only send their outright winner to the NCAA's final 68.  Some of the more competitive conferences will be sending multiple teams and performance in these games will determine exactly who goes on to be included in the field of 68 so every one of these games is exciting for the fans and very meaningful to the teams.

Yale Oarsmen chillin

The Ivy League is probably the most exciting Conference in any sport and that really isn't up for debate.  This year the Ivy Champ is going to be determined in a rare playoff.  They usually just go by the team with the best conference record but this year there is a tie between Princeton (Boooo!) and Harvard (Boooo!).  Amiright?  Ironically the playoff will be held this Saturday at Yale.  Hopefully all the Bulldogs show up and use this opportunity to lustily boo and heckle both teams who are also their two biggest rivals.  As an Eagle's fan, the opportunity to Boo absolutely everything that happens in a game is not foreign to me but it's something that might be considered strange to an outsider.  However, I would like to encourage all Yale students to show up Saturday and jump in it.   

Outside of the Ivy League, the most interesting conferences include the Big East, ACC, and Big 10. The Big East just might set a record for most schools included in the NCAA tournament this year with 11 so just about every game in their 16 team playoff includes a great team. The ACC looks like it could shape up to be another North Carolina vs. Duke battle but lots of spots in the final 68 are up for grabs here. The Big 10 has more of the top teams in Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Purdue even though it might not have the depth of the Big East.  Nearly every game is being broadcast somewhere on the ESPN network so check out these listings for brackets and tip-off times.

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