With each day, the investigation into Ohio State football gets worse and worse.
With each, new violations come to light. More poor behavior. More cover-ups. SI.com has put together a comprehensive report detailing the extent to which the program had come undone during Jim Tressel’s tenure.
Frankly, it is infuriating.
Strip away any remaining illusions you may have, Buckeye fans. We can no longer deny what happened here. We can no longer claim that these are trivial matters or isolated incidents. The argument that “”everyone else is doing it too” is increasingly irrelevant and inadequate. It doesn’t matter who else was doing what during this stretch; the Buckeyes program that I’ve loved for more than three decades was running relentlessly amok.
I am still a fan. I will still root for the team. But I cannot dismiss the magnitude of what’s gone down. And what has become clear to me is that Athletic Director Gene Smith must resign or be fired.
There is simply no way this mess began and ended with Tressel. Without complicity or compliance from both his subordinates and superiors, things never would have gotten this bad. Knowingly or unknowingly, Gene Smith was the man in charge, and, like Tressel, he needs to take responsibility for his failures.
It may be that Tressel’s worst offense was lying about what he knew when the allegations broke last year. But Smith did exactly the same thing when he claimed that the violations committed by Terrelle Pryor and his teammates were “isolated incident(s)”. Or perhaps he wasn’t lying outright. Perhaps Smith truly believed that he was correct, but in that case, his lack of control over the program is astounding. And regardless, he cannot continue in his position.
The NCAA is going to hammer Ohio State. Make no mistake. Although the original notice of violation omitted the “lack of institutional control” and failure to monitor” charges, it’s hard to see how the NCAA would be able to keep those accusations off the table in light of recent discoveries. There has clearly been a pervasive pattern of illicit behavior. Look at the damage done to USC for what amounted to far fewer, and arguably less severe, violations. If that serves as any kind of precedent, the Buckeyes are about to get slammed.
Vacated wins, scholarship reductions, probation…they’re all coming. That much seems inevitable now. At the rate this investigation is goings, fans should be happy with anything less than the Death Penalty. That may be an exaggeration, but not by much.
How could Smith possibly retain his post?
As Buckeye fans, it’s time for us to stop pretending. No more dissembling, no more excuses. Those responsible for staining the reputation of the university must go.
All that said, I maintain that these problems are merely a symptom of a very broken and corrupt system. The NCAA is failing itself and its constituent schools, and while men like Tressel and Smith will and should pay the price in a very direct way, the NCAA itself should also pay for its mistakes.
This moment, the moment at which the nation’s largest athletic department is being toppled by its own errors, is the time for reform to begin. Equitable rules, fair enforcement and just punishments must be put in place, and the absurdities of the recent past, such as the Fiesta fiasco, must be eliminated. If they are not, then Ohio State will hardly be the last school to suffer this fate.