Once again a sports hero has fallen – where was the Columbus media

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Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, held out as the model of integrity, resigned Monday as the pressure mounted due to a memorabilia-for-tattoo scandal that showed no sign of simmering down. Like all media created heroes, the backlash and piling on has been merciless. Besides the obvious questions about what is true or not, where was the Columbus media when all this was going on?

The start was in December when we all found out that 5 players had traded memorabilia (rings, jerseys, autographs, etc…) for tattoos at a Columbus tattoo parlor. At the time Coach Tressel and Ohio State officials claimed they found out about it in December. The five players were allowed to play in the season ending Sugar Bowl but were suspended for five games to start the 2011 season.

Then recently it was learned that Coach Tressel knew about the player trades in April of 2010 and didn’t tell Ohio State or the NCAA as required under the association’s by-laws and his contract with the school.

Because he had been known as a man with high integrity, it was believed that he just made a mistake in not reporting the infractions. Ohio State suspended the coach for two upcoming games and fined him $250,000. Tressel then self-imposed a 5 game suspension on himself since he felt he should get the same punishment as the players.

Then on Monday (May 30th) Tressel resigned.

For more detailed information on the timeline check out this article: Tressel resignation: How it all came about

Again like any normal Ohio State fan I really don’t know what is true or not in this issue. Sports Illustrated published a scathing article that if all is true then Jim Tressel is on the level of a mafia Don – someone who pulls the strings but never gets tainted with the mess.

SI investigation reveals eight-year pattern of violations under Tressel

But the NCAA only acts when it has actual evidence not just the word of people with less than stellar reputations.

My only question is if these stories are all true then where in the hell was the Columbus media when all of this was going on? You can’t tell me that in this celebrity based gossip media culture that NONE of the Columbus media got a whiff of the scandal? I can understand if the Dispatch Printing Company might miss it or gloss it over since it and its media companies are very close to the school, but I never saw a story on the other stations that even hinted at the scope alleged in the SI article.

Either the Columbus media are complete morons or the scandal isn’t as bad or widespread as alleged in the magazine.

That’s why I am keeping an open mind until the NCAA rules on the issue.

But let me be clear: Jim Tressel, for whatever intention, failed to report the violations and for that he should be punished. The rest is all up in the air.

Another issue bothering me is the coverage of the scandal by the ESPN network. Former players and now commentators Kirk Herbstreit and Robert Smith got the vapors over the scandal yet neither one is clean. Smith, when he was at OSU, threw a tantrum and got the Offensive coordinator fired because he wasn’t getting the ball enough. Smith also lied about wanting to be a Doctor before leaving early for the NFL.

Herbstreit also got special help while a player that regular students didn’t get. He also brought out the old racial stereotype that Ohio State needed to stop recruiting “thugs”. Using that word outside of real incidents of violence is a subtle racial slur whether he thinks so or not.

I can tell you this, if Tressel was in the SEC, ESPN would be falling all over themselves to gloss over the scandal. They have a direct business relationship with the SEC and it showed up in the coverage and celebration of Auburn player Cam Newton, who also was tainted with scandal.

Finally the Tressel scandal is another red flag for those who hold their religion out on their sleeves like the Coach did. It seems the ones who appear ultra religious fall the farthest. Anyone who publicly trumpets their lives with Christ or whatever deity they follow should be viewed with suspicion as a skeleton may fall out of their closet.

This is a black eye on Ohio State but it will get better. Time to move on.


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