Archive for May, 2011

Tressel Buckeye Bounced

May 30, 2011

For those of you living in a cave the past 15 hours or so, this morning Jim Tressel resigned as football coach at Ohio St effective immediately.  Personally I was saddened by these developments, but events had probably brought it to the point of inevitability.

At its essence, Jim Tressel failed to heed the lessons of Watergate.  Its not hard to draw the analogy at all.  It can be debated whether President Nixon was actually aware in advance of the break-in at the Democratic headquarters, or for that matter other “dirty tricks” and the break-in of the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, or if he simply assembled a team of shady men and gave them instructions to make sure his reelection campaign would not be outmanuevered, whatever it takes.  It can be debated whether Tressel was actually complicit with the likes of Mickey Monus at Youngstown St or Sarniak with Terrelle Pryor or if he simply turned a blind eye with the calculation that this happens with every major college big time program and its a necessary component to having winning talent.  Even John Wooden did it.  In both cases it was the coverup that killed them; in Nixon’s case it was 25.5 months from the Watergate break-in until “I shall resign the Presidency at noon tomorrow.”  In Tressel’s case it was roughly 14 months from when he got those emails until today.  Things move faster in the internet age (and Tressel didn’t have the CIA at his disposal).

The pathetic thing is its really over not that much.  One can genuinely ask why players aren’t allowed to sell memorabilia that was given to them like championship rings and gold pants trinkets (autographing and bartering game-worn equipment could be different if that stuff was technically school property).  Ohio St football of the Jim Tressel era is certainly not the only, first, or last team to have players that get sweetheart deals on cars or jobs with cushy duties.  But Tressel was explicitly advised of the memorabilia for tattoos and he lied about it, first covertly by keeping the emails secret, then more overtly by not revealing it with the September standard NCAA disclaimer or during the initial scandal investigation in December.

And so I am sad for several reasons.  Primarily Jim Tressel was a damn good football coach and I liked that my team had him.  I enjoyed the over .800 winning percentage, the 9-1 against Michigan, the fact they have been in the AP Top 25 for 100 consecutive polls, the conference titles and co-titles.  As long as the team was winning I wanted him to remain the coach.  There, I said it, I liked him because he won football games.  Call me shallow if you like, but I was born and raised an Ohio St fan too young to remember Woody Hayes (I was a toddler when he attacked the Clemson player) whose prior reference is therefor ‘Ole 9-3 Earle and the Big Game Choke Artist (to this day my dad has a term for a really dumb coaching decision.  He calls it being “John Cooper stupid”).  So the Tressel Decade was a refreshing summer evening breeze from the improbable victory over Miami (talk about a program with a less than clean background story) to “vest-bump” white-knuckler over Arkansas a few months ago.

Secondarily I am saddened for all the residual damage this has caused and is causing.  I hope I am wrong but I fear a sizable segment of Buckeye Nation is going to blame Terrelle Pryor for this.  The kid isn’t perfect to be sure.  But I think a fair analysis of the situation is that Pryor did not cause the downfall of Jim Tressel; Jim Tressel caused the downfall of Jim Tressel.  The same goes for the other members of the Tattoo Six, or Maurice Clarett, or other players whose transgressions are popping up on Tressel Timelines today.  Also Buckeye Nation, the protective clan that it is, has lashed out at those that dare question or probe or investigate.  There are certainly those in the media that are not exactly fair when it comes to Ohio St (I am thinking of you, Mark May) but I would hope that people would be able to relax and understand honest dialogue when they see it.  Perhaps the saddest I’ve been the whole past few months is when I heard Kirk Herbstreit was compelled to move out of Ohio.  I really do hope cooler heads will prevail.

So at some points thoughts do have to turn to 2011 and beyond for Ohio St football.  I wouldn’t want to guess what the NCAA will do to the football program as a whole.  I hope that a postseason ban is avoided but I wouldn’t care to bet money on that.  I really don’t know, and I suppose it is certainly possible that the facts of the situation will change, and that change will inform the NCAA’s decisions.  All indications are 2011 will be with Luke Fickell at the helm and the University not doing a coaching search until after the 2011 season.  What does Fickell have to do to avoid that search and get the job permanently?  If the sanctions are bad does the University have to suffer a few mediocre seasons with him and then look to build back up later in the decade?  Is someone, while publicly saying Fickell is our guy, quietly placing a phone call to Urban Meyer to see if he’s had enough family time yet?  If the team doesn’t stick with Fickell and Meyer isn’t in the cards would Bob Stoops think this is a good time to leave Oklahoma with the Big XII seemingly waning as a conference?  Bo Pellini, like Stoops, is an Ohio guy from Youngstown, and that would certainly add some spice to the Big Ten.  I’m sure the 2011 season will produce a flavor of the month candidate or three not currently on our radar screens.  Stay tuned.

Bottom line; let’s hope that Tressel’s resignation brings a sad end to a sorry chapter in our history.

James Harrison Sounds Off on NFL Rules Changes

May 26, 2011

Anyone on Twitter or searching WordPress might’ve already seen this @jharrison9292 but I am re-posting his blog post here:

It’s been weighing heavy on my mind all day, so I figure I might as well just let it out.  I want to make it clear that I am all for player safety.  I don’t disagree with all of the rule changes.

But come on…REALLY? Now you have to wait until a guy catches, or even worse, you have to let them catch the ball before you can even attempt to tackle him.  Along with that, you cannot let any part of your helmet or facemask touch any part of them basically from the chest up. If you are following the letter of the rules exactly, now most tackles, if not ALL tackles can be flagged, fined and/or result in ejection from that game, or future game(s).

I understand the intent behind making the rules, but in their attempt to make the game safer, they are actually clouding what is allowable.  Even the referees are confused.  A close look will show you that the referees were calling things that were not even supposed to be called, and NOT calling things that were actually illegal.

The decision to call a penalty or impose a fine is seemingly, at least some of the time, dependent upon the uniform and the player.  After my meeting this past fall with Roger Goodell, Ray Anderson, and Merton Hanks and some others, who I now have absolutely no respect for (to keep it PG), I definitely believe there is no equality in their enforcement of these rules.

These rules are targeting hard hitting players and defenses i.e. STEELERS.  I guess the NFL needed a poster child for their campaign.

The quarterback rule clarification (Rule 12, Section 2, Article 13) is a great change.  But that’s just saying “Hey Steelers..by the way…Ben’s nose getting broken last year really did not deserve a penalty.”

I know there are hits out there that could go either way, but if it’s me I already know which way they are going to go.  I love this game, but I hate what they are trying to turn it into.

I wonder why the NFL is suddenly coming down so hard on player’s safety issues.  I can’t help but think it’s not actually for the safety of the players.

He’ll get no argument from me.

I’m all for player safety, but I really do think things are going entirely too far.  I think there are two major factors contributing to the cases of early onset dementia that don’t exist, or at least don’t exist to nearly the extent, that they did in the era those guys played (the 60s, 70s, & 80s).  One is the rampant use of steroids.  The other in the 70s and 80s was Astroturf.  People tend to think of it as a surface that caused leg injuries only.  But just think of all the times those players would’ve fallen and hit their head off the ground.  Astroturf was basically concrete, and smacking your head off concrete ain’t good!  Field turf that we have today has to be much more brain-friendly, and that combined with the stringent post-concussion protocols put in place the past few years should go a long way towards eliminating new cases of early onset dementia when today’s players enter their 40s and 50s.

Messing with High School Football in Ohio

May 11, 2011

An interesting article from JJHuddle:

*End of the Herbstreit Classic? Entertainment over Education?…Have you heard of House Bill 191? No? Well listen up.

Sponsored by Rep. Bill Hayes, a Licking County Republican, HB 191 would force Ohio’s schools to operate only after Labor Day and before Memorial Day. HB 191 is built upon the premise of students spending the same amount of time in the classroom, but instead of requiring 182 days, students (depending on elementary, middle or high school status) would be required to be in school for 960-1,050 or more hours.

Why suggest this? Hayes thinks the plan will boost tourism opportunities and dollars for Ohio’s amusement parks, resorts and state parks by clearing the entire month of August for family time. As it’s written now, though, HB 191 could also signal the end of high school football – and all extracurriculars – for some schools on Labor Day Weekend.

The bill’s Sec. 3313.621, article (D) states that: “No school district board shall agree to or permit a school under its control to participate in any extracurricular events on Friday through Monday of the Labor day weekend. This prohibition shall not apply to any district or school that has an agreement with another district or school or with an athletic association or conference, entered into prior to the effective date of this section, that requires participation in extracurricular events on that weekend. However, the district board shall not enter into a new agreement or renew an expiring agreement on or after the effective date of this section that requires participation in extracurricular events on that weekend.”

Basically what that means is unless you’re football team is playing a league game in Week 2, you would eventually be locked out of competition on Labor Day Weekend should HB 191 pass. Since the Herbstreit Classic operates on year-to-year contracts, that event would be finished, unless it moved to a different weekend.

Soccer, volleyball, cross country, golf, tennis and even band would be affected.

Workarounds for schools could include signing “lifetime” contracts with non-league opponents or a “pool” of non-league opponents.

According to an article in the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, the legislation has been assigned to the House Education Committee and has yet to have a hearing.

As one educator put it: “It’s ludicrous. You’re (bleeping) with children’s education in order to get more people to spend money.”

Not to mention you’re messing with high school football…

Not sure where to begin on this one.  First of all there is the obvious loophole that his blackout period is Friday-Monday of Labor Day Weekend, which leaves open playing the games on Thursday night in that week, which is usually Week 2 of the high school season.  But either way I find it rather confusing.  I thought Republicans were the party of smaller government, and greater local control of schools instead of hamstringing schools with big brother mandates and rules?  I know I heard that somewhere.