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May 31, 2011 - Al Stephenson
It caught me by surprise, even though I knew it could and likely would happen. The Ohio State University will be searching (eventually) for a new head football coach after Jim Tressel stole the Memorial Day headlines by resigning the position. Supposedly the resignation was forced by the university's board of trustees, who must have realized that trying to defend his actions became well nigh impossible.
When I heard the news, two names popped into my head. You may think me a little touched, but the names of Richard Nixon and Tiger Woods came to mind as I wondered where Jim Tressel went wrong. Give me a minute to explain.
Richard Nixon was a very popular President during his first term. He was bringing a very unpopular war to an end and fighting inflation with some tough policies. He had no chance of being defeated in his bid for a second term, but left office in disgrace before that second four year stint was over. He will always be known for Watergate and resigning the highest office in the land. What the heck happened? Seeing any similarities yet?
The break in at the Democratic headquarters located in the Watergate building accomplished nothing. Some staff members of the President decided it was a good idea, until of course the burglars got caught. Richard Nixon could have avoided the turmoil if he had just admitted that someone made a mistake and let a couple of staffers go. Instead he decided to try to protect his loyal subordinates and proceeded to try to coverup the wrongdoing. By the time it all unravelled, Nixon was finished and he would go down in history as the one thing he claimed he was not - a crook. Now you can see why his name came up.
As for Tiger Woods, he seemed to have it all. Millions of dollars, a mansion, a beautiful wife, two small children and he got to play golf for a living. Life could not get much better for the educated, smooth talking idol of many. He was however leading a double life. He decided he was entitled to a few (cite your own number) extramarital affairs. After all, he was Tiger Woods. There was a side of Tiger that few people knew about and when it became known, he was publicly disgraced.
More and more information keeps coming out about Tressel, that a comparison to Tiger Woods is indeed possible. Was he the man who not only won football games, but did it the right way by playing within the rules? He certainly seemed to be that kind of person. Did he make just one mistake (though a serious one in the eyes of the NCAA) trying to be loyal to his players for their seemingly minor transgressions by keeping quiet about Tattoogate? Or, if you believe some of the charges in the SI article, was their another side to the man in the vest? Had he been involved in lies and coverups before?
Before you come to a conclusion, I would suggest you wait. There is likely to be much more information forthcoming.
As an Ohio State fan, I am saddened that this day has come. I remember saying that one thing I really liked about Tressel was not so much the winning, but the fact that he won the right way. Perhaps I was naive (afterall I thought it was Albert Belle's biceps not his corked bat that gave him his power numbers). Perhaps it is not possible to be a successful Division I college football coach and not be involved in NCAA violations. That assumption is a topic for another day.
Here's another thought that I have. With Tressel gone, will the Tattoo Five be far behind? I don't know that they will be received warmly by the Buckeye faithful.
The view from my seat suggests that Tressel will soon be forgotten, but the troubles for the Ohio State University are just beginning.
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