Remember the old Jerry Tarkanian line — “The NCAA is so mad at Kentucky it’s going to add two years probation onto Cleveland State” — that remains the greatest sports quote of all time?
Time to pull it out. The NCAA is so mad at Jim Tressel, it ruled Perry Jones III ineligible.
I know, I know, I’m mixing intercollegiate metaphors here. Jones, Baylor’s star freshman basketball player, has been ruled ineligible because his mother received loans from an AAU coach.
Meanwhile, Tressel, the Ohio State football coach, sat on information that his players were caught up in a federal drug-trafficking case and the sale of memorabilia, breaking NCAA rules. Tressel misled investigators in the case and this week received a two-game suspension from Ohio State and a $250,000 fine.
Meanwhile, Dez Bryant lied to investigators about dining with Deion Sanders — which was NOT a rules violation — and was suspended for a full season, effectively costing him 10 football games playing for Oklahoma State.
Somewhere, Jerry Tarkanian is shaking his head.
For nine months, Tressel didn’t report the information he received. Said something kooky like he wasn’t sure where to report it. Oh, I don’t know. How about the Ohio State compliance department or the Buckeye athletic director?
Tressel comes off as totally disingenuous in the matter.
The NCAA could hand Tressel even more penalties. Missing games against Akron and Toledo — what, Dayton not on the schedule? — is hardly severe punishment compared to what Dez Bryant suffered.
The NCAA hasn’t ruled on the case of Bruce Pearl, either. The Tennessee basketball coach also misled — lied to — investigators. The Southeastern Conference suspended Pearl for eight SEC games.
The NCAA comes off looking very bad in this matter. An athlete gets hammered; coaches get their wrists slapped. That’s the message so far.
What’s also interesting is the side of Tressel’s character that makes some hard to grasp. Bobby Knight, a self-appointed minister of ethics, defended Tressel during an ESPN radio interview on Wednesday. Talked about what a great man Tressel is and how much integrity he’s got.
Integrity is as integrity does.
Tressel tried to hide something scandalous under the carpet, and he got burned.
Reminded me of something my pal Andrew Gilman always says: If you don’t run, no one will chase you.
Gilman used to write sports for The Oklahoman, now he runs Fusion Media, a consulting firm that specializes in high school sports. His advice for coaches:
“Telling the truth is easy. Lying is hard. I know it sounds simple, but as we have seen with the Jim Tressel case and the Bruce Pearl situation, if you don’t run, no one will chase you.
“Now, because of his cover-up situation at Ohio State, the chase is on. Not only will there be intense scrutiny of Tressel, questions now will resurface about his NCAA issues at Youngstown State. All of it could have been avoided from the beginning.
“I tell coaches all the time to be ready when the phone rings, because it will eventually ring. Be ready to tell the truth. Understand if you don’t, there will be major consequences and we’re seeing that at Ohio State.”
I disagree with the G-Man about one thing. For many people, telling the truth is easy and lying is hard. But for college football and basketball coaches, the opposite is true. Lying comes easy, the truth comes hard, and the consequences aren’t always severe.