Today’s the day that all eyes and ears in Buckeye nation are pointed toward Indianapolis, as the Ohio State football program goes before the NCAA Committee on Infractions to answer questions regarding the “Tatoo-gate” situation and subsequent revelation that former coach Jim Tressel failed to inform either Ohio State or the NCAA when he was notified regarding the actions of the players involved.
On Thursday, we discovered the makeup of the committee and the members of Ohio State’s response team, as well as hearing a little bit about what the process itself might look like. We also were reminded that the NCAA’s decision may be 6-8 weeks away, and that tomorrow is just another step in the process.
Yet, in spite of the possibility of closure being nearer, Buckeye fans have not been able to step away from their ledges, particularly this week. First, everyone’s favorite four letter network began Sunday with an Outside the Lines “expose” that rehashed the Ohio State story and managed to blame the University for creating an atmosphere where autographs were something that fans wanted. They did this under the guise of “talking about the memorabilia issue in college football”, and somehow missed talking about the transgressions of a network partner and recent national champion. On Tuesday, the Associated Press announced that Jim Tressel actually made money while coaching at Ohio State (although nowhere near as much as other coaches), while the dollars regarding the Ohio State investigation and defense were also published.
Wednesday, Pat Forde announced from the President’s meetings in Indianapolis that the NCAA was still “investigating” Ohio State, initially couching it as a “second notice” letter, and going on to speculate the content, the rationale, and the ramifications. The University quickly rebuffed this story, but it continued to lead the WWL’s coverage (including, I’m told, a “Breaking news” update in the greater OKC area). While it’s more than probable that the University and NCAA are still looking into some of the things that have arisen due to the past few months, many Ohio State fans were relieved by the University’s response as well as frustrated by the fact that Auburn was given a verbal admonition that they were still under scrutiny in a public setting that took six times as long to be reported by anyone in the media.
Thursday’s “gut shot” came in the form of revelations from 97.1 staff regarding the mysterious “Ellis” from George Dohrmann’s article. While the initial NCAA report indicated that the Sports Illustrated allegations were explored and found wanting, our friend Lori Schmidt tweeted that “Ellis” had talked again with the NCAA over the past few days and was meeting with them in Indianapolis on next week. More information surfaced that he had been shopping “photos” to some in the media; presumably ones that prove his claims regarding Ohio State players being more prevalent at Fine Line tattoos than initially reported by the University. Those that have seen them have indicated that they do paint a convincing picture regarding his account to Dorhmann, which included allegations of drug usage.
While these photos would represent evidence that might not implicate the University (since proving knowledge of the subject matter by a University official would be difficult, outside of the emails from Cicero to Tressel), the impact on current Buckeyes might be significant. All of the persons implicated by the SI piece have been interviewed by the NCAA- should any of them have told the investigators or the University that they were never present at the shop while photos indicate otherwise, these student athletes can expect to be suspended for the remainder of the year for 10.1 violations (see Bryant, Dez).
And so… it’s now Friday. August 12, 2011. What does any of this have to do with a podcast, particularly with someone from the Pac-12? (wow, it feels odd to type that)
Everything, as it turns out. Living in LA, I’ve relied on Conquest Chronicles for my west coast sports news, and have found it to be a significant source of insight into college sports. Paragon’s coverage of the Reggie Bush/OJ Mayo situation was a solid place to find information that the media wasn’t covering, and his take on the NCAA’s response was, at the time, significantly different than what I was personally thinking.
However, during the initial rumblings of Tressel’s involvement and Ohio State being turned into a worldwide crisis, he was good enough to serve as a sounding board and a resource for some of our thinking and writing (including Eric’s great “compare and contrast” piece). He was also gracious enough to give us time to talk about his perspective on the USC and Ohio State situations, as well as his take on the NCAA as a hole (and yes, I spelled that based on his point of view).
While this was recorded this past Sunday, it’s been amazing how some of the things that Buckeye fans have been wondering in the past two days were almost predicted by our conversation. “Wait, the NCAA will talk to ‘Ellis’ after they meet with Ohio State? Will OSU get a fair chance to refute his claims?” and “The NCAA can’t seriously take the word of a convicted felon, will they?” and “How can they give him anonymity in a hearing?” All of these were topics for our conversation, and you can hear his answers below (don’t be surprised if you have a different take on what happened to USC after listening).
It’s a long podcast, I’ll be honest- Eric and I joked about Paragon being my match in verbosity. The difference, though, is that he brings a lot of wisdom and insight to the table, both as someone who’s been following college sports for a long time and as someone who’s done extensive investigation into what goes on behind closed NCAA doors… and how the people there got there in the first place. You should also be aware that, at times, it feels like he’s supporting Ohio State receiving harsh sanctions- the reality is that he’s looking for NCAA consistency, or, failing that, at least another example of how this organization plays by its’ own set of rules that are seemingly made up as they go.
With that, there’s nothing to do but hit “play” and listen as we talk about what Ohio State may be going through in an Indianapolis board room today. We also hope that you’ll respond in the comments- what are your reactions to the discussion, what are your hopes for the coming deliberation process, where were we on the mark and off our rockers.
All that, on this very special episode of tBBC Radio Hour.
You can also connect with us on iTunes so that you’ll be up to date with the latest from our writers and guests.