The most startling piece of information I heard concerning Jim Tressel
and his resignation from Ohio State was relayed by former Buckeye and
ESPN analyst, Robert Smith. Smith recounted a conversation he had with
Tressel last thing and he recalled the coach saying, "The thing that astounds
me the most is how these kids have a willingness to look your straight in
the face and just lie." That deserves a wow. Pure shock and awe.
It was Tressel's out and out lies that did him in. The coach who carefully
cultivated a squeaky clean, holier than thou image, got buried in an avalanche
of his own lies. He was outed as a fraud who was more concerned about
his image than that of The Ohio State. Tressel's problem was that he bought
into his senatorial appearance, believed he was above the truth, and didn't
think any arrow could penetrate his sweater-vest or pristine image.
How wrong he was and oh, how we were all duped once again. Image is
everything right? Andre Agassi, Tiger, and the Terminator all believed it.
So did Tressel. Now, like Tiger, he had a great fall and has to find a way
to pick up the pieces.
Tressel was defied in Buckeye land because he had the team playing for
national championship and he just owned Michigan. And everybody thought
he was doing it the right way. Turns out, everything about Tressel was wrong.
During spring practice, Tressel wore a camouflage hat and army boots as
part of "military appreciation" day. Perhaps, he knew he was in for the battle
of his life or that was just another "image building" exercise for himself.
I'm thinking it was probably the latter.
Last year, Tressel knew he was using players that were ineligible. He also
knew that he couldn't win without them. The pressure was too great, and lord
knows, if you lose more than two games a year in Columbus, you're considered
mediocre. Tressel couldn't handle that. He wanted his legacy to be vault
him to the top of the coaching ranks at Ohio State, ahead of another beloved
but disgraced coach, Woody Hayes.
His ego took over. There was no way anyone could pin anything on him, he
must've thought. Perhaps, he felt entitled the way Tiger did when he announced
to the world he was a dirt bag. Perhaps, he felt he was about reproach like
Arnold Schwarzeneggar did when he fathered another child with his housekeeper
and kept both of them around his family for nearly 10 years.
Like Bruce Pearl, Tressel could've avoided the mess by just admitting the truth.
We are a nation that forgives when a person says, "my bad, I messed up, please
forgive me." But Pearl nor Tressel didn't. They compounded a bad situation with
more lies. They had preached to their athletes to "be honest, tell the truth, and do
the right thing".
It's too bad neither Tressel nor Pearl lived by their law.