Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Is Tressel a Good Guy or Bad Guy?

Obviously I am an unabashed SEC guy, always have been and always will be. But I do follow Ohio State pretty closely because my wife's side of the family is from Columbus, OH and they are all huge Buckeye fans. My neighbor played football for Furman and is a big Clemson fan, and we were with them on Memorial Day when the news about Tressel broke. Once we got past the initial shock of the timing of the announcement, our conversation pretty quickly turned to whether at his core, Tressel is a good guy or a bad guy (or at the very least, a hypocrite). And in the end, we both agreed that Tressel has done a lot more good in his life than bad. It's clear that he has a history of bending the rules, or at the very least trying to maintain plausible deniability. To say he hasn't been a bit hypocritical would be wrong. But while we're taught from a young age that "Yeah, but everybody else is doing it too" is not a valid argument, the reality is that everybody else IS also doing it - and a lot of programs are doing it a lot worse. Football players get perks - both allowable and nonallowable - and I strongly believe that every coach of a major football program has sat on information rather than reporting it at some point in their careers, in order to not hurt the team.

Tressel's biggest mistake was lying to the NCAA about when he knew what had happened. It's one thing to not voluntarily report potential violations that you discover, but it's another thing to lie about it when confronted about your knowledge. That's the kicker.

In the end though, I think Jim Tressel is a good man and a good coach. If I had a son, and he were gifted enough to play a high level of football, I'd gladly have him play for Tressel. I'm not saying Tressel should have kept his job - you have to pay the consequences, and him losing his job was a fair consequence. I just hope this doesn't tarnish his reputation forever. Whether in the NFL or NCAA, I hope he bounces back and we get to see the sweater vest on the sidelines again. He's one of those guys who is good for football, imperfections and all.


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