You don’t have to be a Georgia fan to appreciate the latest news on the Tatgate front…
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was informed that several Buckeyes players were selling memorabilia more than eight months before the school claims it was made aware of the scheme, a two-month Yahoo! Sports investigation has found.
Tressel received information that players were selling items to Edward Rife – the owner of Fine Line Ink Tattoos in Columbus – as early as April 2010, according to a source. However, neither Ohio State nor the NCAA investigated the transactions or the players’ relationship with Rife until December 2010, when the school claims it was informed of the situation by the local United States Attorney’s office.
Ohio State director of compliance Doug Archie declined immediate comment when reached Monday by Yahoo! Sports. Tressel and athletic director Gene Smith were unavailable for comment. The NCAA declined comment.
… but it helps.
It was bad enough for us when Mark Emmert’s bunch looked inconsistent at best fashioning sanctions in the wake of Jim Delany’s lobbying to keep the five Ohio State players eligible for the Sugar Bowl. But to find that the organization may have failed to perform proper due diligence in reaching its decision almost beggars belief.
Almost. The process that led to A. J. Green’s four-game suspension let us know that the NCAA couldn’t find its way out of a paper bag without a TMZ article and a local guide to show the way. The Yahoo! disclosure is just further confirmation of the NCAA’s investigative ineptitude.
But it’s not the icing on the cake. We’ll have to wait for that shoe to drop if the NCAA is able to validate to its own satisfaction the details of this story, but it’ll be interesting to see what it does with Ohio State and Tressel if this checks out. On one level, the bell can’t be unrung – wouldn’t it have been nice if Georgia had been allowed to postpone Green’s suspension until after the 2010 season? – but the NCAA doesn’t take kindly to programs which lie to it.
Speaking of which, they may not share wardrobes, but Tressel and Bruce Pearl have that whole hypocrisy thing down pat.
“I think we all have a little sensor within us, ‘Well, I’m not sure if I should be doing this,’” Tressel said. “And then sometimes it gets overridden by what you think your necessity is. …”
“There’s a gut-wrenching feeling when you lose a game and you know you could’ve done better,” he continued later. “And then there’s one that goes beyond when you don’t feel as if you did what you should do as people. So whatever the next step of gut-wrenching is, that’s the way you feel. And we feel a responsibility for our kids on and off the field. Obviously, it’s painful.”
Tressel also suggested that the responsibility of rules compliance ultimately falls on the coaching staff.
“I think ultimately we as coaches feel as if the buck stops here – that we’re the ones that need to make things even more crystal clear than when a compliance officer might spend time with our team or an outside speaker or whatever it happens to be,” he said. “The bottom line is that we feel as if that’s our responsibility, so obviously we don’t feel good about the fact that we fell short.”
A few random winners and losers from this:
- Chip Kelly. For him, any day that doesn’t have Oregon’s payments to a couple of sketchy recruiting services as its top college football scandal story is a good one. It’s temporary, perhaps, but he’s a winner.
- Jim Tressel. Obviously it depends on the story being confirmed, but assuming it’s true, the man is in some deep, deep shit.
- Gordon Gee. He’s finding that it’s easier to be a sanctimonious bow-tie wearing fool at Vanderbilt.
- Mark Emmert. Don’t get me started.
- Oversigning opponents. Hey, live by the Big Ten as ethical poster boy, die by the Big Ten as ethical poster boy.
- Mike Slive. At first glance, you probably think he’s a winner, but I’m not so sure. That smirk he had on his face upon hearing the news probably faded by the time he went to bed wondering who’s been working the Cecil Newton story.
- The Tatgate Five. If they’re not having second thoughts about turning pro now, they will be soon.
UPDATE: Here’s a great post that, sadly, is too true to be really funny.