Quick look at a bit of coolness from yesterday’s presser, then onward into the fray-
Ohio State announced yesterday that they will be wearing customized helmets for the Spring Game, painted with a military design to honor American servicemen and commemorate the 75th anniversary Jesse Owen’s performance at the Berlin Games.
Most of these helmets will be re-painted over the summer, but the announcement goes on to read
Each of the 25 remaining “camo” helmets will be individually numbered, autographed by Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel and then sold, with the sale benefiting the Ohio National Guard Family Readiness and Warrior Support Program, LiFE (Learning in Fitness & Education) through Sports Program and the Ruth and Jesse Owens Scholars Fund. These helmets will be sold off-line on a first-come, first-served basis for $1,000.00/helmet (limit one per an individual).
which I’m sure will make the good folks over at Tiger Droppings extremely happy.
We talked already about Coach Fickell’s promotion, and other sites have good coverage of the press conference. We expect to hear more today following the media accessible spring practice period.
We haven’t talked about the “news” that Coach Tressel forwarded the Cicero email to Jeanette businessman and Pryor mentor rather than the OSU Compliance office or Gene Smith, mostly because it’s already been said. We all have our theories/rationalizations, but it doesn’t change the fact that it makes his “confidentiality” excuse hold next to no water, and the NCAA will certainly respond accordingly. I was a bit intrigued that the media responded almost wholeheartedly with a “well, now that we know this, he has to be fired/resign” theme, mostly because this doesn’t get to be decided in the media. We’re assuming that, if this information was leaked from inside the athletic department, that the NCAA was aware of this (and has been since the University found out about it). So, while it doesn’t appear positive in any way it’s not as if it was “proof of a greater coverup”. It’s like I’ve been told- just because I don’t know something doesn’t mean that it’s important for me to know it.
So, let’s get to the flavor of the day: The “HBO “revelation” that a former recruit at Ohio State is alleging that he received cash from a booster and “sexual favors” from a co-ed while on a recruiting trip. We’ll get to the context in just a minute, but it should be noted that this occurred around the same time that the athletic department was under a full investigation, and the University was not found to have any pervasive issues with this type of behavior (“pervasive” means “more than a one or two time thing”). If true, it’s indefensible and should have been dealt with.
Regarding the “sexual favors” aspect of the story, I’m shocked to hear that a student who was visiting a University might have had “relations” with someone during their visit. That type of thing never happens when high school kids visit Universities. Sarcasm aside, unless this was coordinated or tacitly facilitated by the athletic department or the coaching staff, I’m not sure how it’s relevant to the perspective that those two entities are “lawless”. Particularly when the reporting team at HBO sports has themselves stated they had no proof to back up the claim. However, since Ohio State is the target of the month, it’s the story that everyone’s been running with.
And now, the rest of the stories…
Last summer, your humble correspondent noted that the NCAA had been particularly busy with high profile cases and situations, and wondered if there was a new mentality for the organization in terms of addressing these types of issues. Be careful what you wish for, right?
Over the past few days, we’ve seen this blow up in ways that were unimaginable in previous years. Here’s a quick summary for those of you who only rely on ESPN for your news and commentary:
With all of this going on, it’s certainly good to have a stalwart institution like the NCAA available to help monitor and hold athletic departments accountab… what? You say the NCAA has it’s own issues to deal with right now?
Among the crack panel looking into the matter? An Orange Bowl committee member who accepted a free cruise as a part of his Orange Bowl duties. Playoff PAC released an evaluation of “the blind leading the blind”, which includes the revelation that (HT Wiz Of Odds):
Yup, that’s the same Orange Bowl where Virginia Tech and Stanford lost money for the privilege to participate.
UPDATE: The Solid Verbal brings a video montage of the mayhem:
So, with all of this carnage, what’s the takeaway for college football and college sports fans? For me, there are a couple of things that stand out.
For Ohio State fans, this last question might be the most relevant… Will the NCAA’s decisions on the current investigation be appropriate and proportional to the situation, or will the public pressure and media frenzy to “clean things ups” result in sanctions that exceed what we’ve seen other places? While I still believe that there are only minimal comparisons between the situations involving Ohio State and Tennessee (including investigation into other aspects of the athletic department at UT), Buckeye fans might be able to read the future of the program in the tea leaves of this summer’s decision about Knoxville.
Like I said… it’ll be an interesting summer.