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Ohio State Needs New Football Leader

April 30, 2011
By DOUG HUFF - Sports Columnist , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

OHIO STATE.

The Buckeyes need new leadership of the football program.

I've always been a believer in the ''second chance'' theory when it's appropriate.

But this is not one of those cases.

There's some baggage history attached to current OSU head coach JIM TRESSEL and it dates back to his pre-Buckeye years.

Tressel got the coveted Ohio State position, mainly, because of his track record as coach of one of the nation's top Division I-A programs at Youngstown State. The Penguins were an annual contender for national honors.

But Tressel's image took a major hit in 1991 when it was revealed the star quarterback of the national title team, RAY ISAAC, had been provided cars and cash by a Penguins booster, and Youngstown businessman, MICKEY MONUS.

Of course, Tressel denied he had any knowledge of such actions which has been a common theme for coaches on the hot seat for program problems.

But, the black marks in Youngstown weren't enough for OSU to deny Tressel the keys to the Buckeye football car.

Fast forward from 1991 a decade to when Tressel was patrolling the OSU sidelines with his Scarlett & Gray vests.

He endeared himself to OSU fans and boosters when the Buckeyes claimed the 2002 BCS championship.

But that achievement took another major hit when the star running back, MAURICE CLARETT, claimed Buckeyes coaches helped him obtain cash, cars and grades for classes he never attended.

Clarett's charges, however, were hampered by his legal problems and OSU dodged a bullet with any sanctions from the NCAA, Big Ten Conference, etc.

That brings us to the latest major controversy.

What we have here is a situation where the reaction to a negative situation is often worse than the actual event.

Five Buckeye players including quarterback TERRELL PRYOR and three other starters were cited for profiting from a multitude of autographed OSU jerseys, helmets, pants, Big Ten title rings, etc., from a local tattoo-shop owner whose house was raided by federal agents concerning possible drug charges.

When informed of the situation, Tressel reportedly didn't notify the NCAA, OSU legal or compliance department, athletics director GENE SMITH or OSU president GORDON GEE.

Instead, he forwarded the notification e-mail to a Jeannette, Pa., businessman who is considered an adult mentor of Pryor.

Later, when the NCAA learned of the situation, Tressel signed an Ohio State compliance form which stated he had no knowledge of any NCAA violations.

During the 2010 season, the NCAA conducted its lengthy investigation and permitted, along with the Big Ten, for the five charged players to play in the Sugar Bowl while noting they would have to sit out the first five games of 2011. Tressel first said he would sit out two games but later expanded his self-afflicted penalty to five.

That should have been a sign that the head coach knew the axe was going to fall on his lack of reaction to the players' actions.

The NCAA finally completed its probe and alleged the coach ''lied to hide NCAA violations and permitted the players to participate while ineligible.'' That's considered a major violation and those NCAA penalties have yet to be announced.

Even the Big Ten commissioner, JIM DELANY, said this week that, in light of the recent findings, that he has changed his mind about permitting the five OSU players to play in last year's Sugar Bowl game.

With all the accumulated darts tossed at Tressel the last few months, it would be difficult for him to be the face of Buckeyes football, especially in recruiting and representing the university.

A parting of the ways would be best for OSU and the head coach.

A new face of the Buckeye program is needed to give the team a much-needed, positive shot in the arm.

Enjoy the weekend.

 
 

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