Jim Tressel, vest-clad leader of young men, was suspended for two games and fined $250,000 today, after Yahoo! Sports reported Monday that the coach had known about NCAA violations for eight months before the university found out.
In December, five players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, were suspended for five 2011 games (not the Sugar Bowl) when the NCAA discovered they had sold Buckeyes memorabilia to a local tattoo maven.
Back then, Tressel was not so happy that his unpaid players were selling free things. Here's what he said upon requiring another year of football so that his players might play in the Sugar Bowl:
"We told them they would have to make the decision on the NFL prior to leaving for the bowl game," Tressel said at his first Sugar Bowl news conference. "It wouldn't be fair to not face the consequences down the road."
Hey, wait! There's "The Vest," foreshadowing and splitting infinitives, prophesying some consequences that might just face him too.
In a press conference tonight, he ducked the blame, talking a bunch about confidentiality in criminal proceedings, offering the kind of explanation we'd call galling if we weren't so used to it by now.
With the seriousness of what was discussed in the emails, and also the confidentiality component, we worked very hard to make it a teachable moment, and as time went on, in my mind what was most important was that we didn't interfere with a federal investigation.
I've learned that I probably needed to go to the legal counsel person at the university and get some help as to how you handle criminal investigations and confidentiality, and perhaps gain the protection that you might need from within the process.
Right, totally understandable. When you're a public employee, and your state-school-sponsored players might be in legal trouble, the last thing you should do is chat with the university counsel. That guy's bad news.
And I guess, by the same logic, one should publicly pretend not to have known about ongoing wrongdoing. (Yahoo's writers note that, in December, OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith insisted that no Buckeye coach or administrator had heard about the violations until recently.)
Baffling, completely. What bumbling Matlock could have told Tressel that any of this was proper?
I had heard George Bush say that the most pathetic thing is a leader who's looking for self-pity.
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