Wednesday, June 8


"I'm askin, as if I'm qualified to analyze. You're lookin at a bitch who specialize in tellin lies." While Tupac and Nate Dogg were rapping about scandalous hoes back in 1996, their lyrics fittingly describe the current Ohio St football program, and coach Jim Tressel in particular. Andy wrote a good piece regarding Tressel last week, but I just wanted to throw my two cents in, especially after Terrelle Pryor's decision to leave school.

As I mentioned in a post back when the merch-for-ink scandal broke and as Andy said in his article, I'm not going to get into whether the infractions that Ohio St committed should be wrong. People have their opinions on whether collegiate athletes should be compensated or not, but that's not what this post is about. The fact of the matter is simple - Jim Tressel and his players knew the NCAA rules (Tressel even has to sign something each year saying that he knows the rules, and that his program has not violated them to his knowledge) and they blatantly broke them.

I also am not going to go in depth about what happened, since most people know the story by now. If you don't, let SI fill you in, they're better writers than I. What I want to talk about is what this means for the Ohio St program and how it will affect their immediate and long-term future.

Sports Ill nailed it when they said that Jim Tressel has always been viewed as a man of integrity, when now we see that that isn't really true. That is what bothers me the most about this whole situation - we were supposed to be different. OSU wasn't like michigan or USC, they were the standard. The program to look to when yours went wrong and say, "That's what we need to strive to become." Clearly, this was not the case, and certainly a large portion of this opinion was naivety on the part of me and the millions of other members of Buckeye Nation that shared my view. For years I have made jokes about michigan and the Fag Five and how none of those games even counted because they were all wiped clean. I would make fun of them not just because they suck and are a bunch of bitches and because Ann Arbor is a whore (all still true statements), but also because that wasn't us. We were better than that. It is a tough pill to swallow to realize now that we are not.

(Let me just point out that by that last statement I am only referring to when it comes to players receiving improper benefits. Ohio St is still better than michigan in EVERY single other way, including football, basketball, academics, snorkeling, brick laying, getting chicks, and every other aspect in the entire universe. I digress.)

So what does this all mean for the Ohio St football program? Well, for starters, expect many wins, both regular season and Bowl games, and Big Ten titles in the Jim Tressel era to be forfeited, possibly including the 2002 National Title. This is significant only in the record books. The violations had nothing to do with the football field, myself and the rest of the Buckeye faithful will still remember these teams for how great they were. (I still watch a video of the '02 title win at least twice a year to make sure I don't forget. I love you, Craig Krenzel.) More importantly, going forward the Bucks are looking at some heavy NCAA sanctions, certainly including the lost of scholarships, and possibly Bowl ineligibility.

Looking at the near future - exit Jim Tressel/Terrelle Pryor, enter Luke Fickell/Braxton Miller. Don't know much about Luke Fickell? Me neither. Read this. Fickell takes over as interim coach of the Buckeyes, and the message here is pretty simple - do the best you can this season, then go back to assistant so we can get a high profile name. Anything short of a National Championship this season and I doubt Fickell is asked back. Even with a 10-2, Big Ten title season, Fick (Can we call him "Fick"? Do we want to?) is bounced if Urban Meyer comes a-knockin'.

Which brings me to my next topic - the future, more permanent replacement. Meyer is certainly at the top of OSU's wish list, as is current Nebraska head man and Ohio St grad Bo Pelini. Another name I've heard pop up a couple of times is Jon Gruden, but that seems unlikely. The big question here is, how attractive is the Buckeye job after the NCAA enforces its sanctions? Sure, Ohio St is one of the best and most storied programs in the country, but does Urban want to leave a cozy retirement to coach a team that can't make a Bowl game for the next three years? This will certainly be a big storyline in the year to come.

But let's take a look at what will be happening on the field in the 2011-12 season. Pryor has left the team, and there are still the five-game suspensions of four other Buckeyes, most notably RB Dan Herron and WR DeVier Posey. Before this whole scandal erupted, the buzz in the Spring on the Ohio St campus was about incoming freshman QB Braxton Miller. Just as dangerous with his legs as he is with his arm, the 6'2, 190-pound Ohio native is a very similar player to TP - let's just hope he's not as much of an ass. He certainly has the physical tools, (see for yourself), how much he plays and how effective he will be this season will depend on his maturity and leadership skills. Unless Miller just wows everyone in practice, I expect Fickell to handle this situation just as Tressel did three years ago when Pryor was a freshman - start the veteran (Joe Bauserman) until he gives you the slightest reason to pull him, then go with the young gun. (It took Todd Boeckman all of 1 1/2 games to get pulled in favor of TP.)

So the Buckeyes will attempt to rise up from the turmoil, ignore all the distractions, and succeed with a new coach and a new quarterback in a conference that just added another top 10 team. While this season may not be as successful as we have become accustomed to in Columbus, I'm still going to cheer my ass off watching them try.



Jonny E said...

Good stuff Figgs.. I graduated in broadcast journalism but also finished print at PSU. As a PSU fan I have to say I'm thoroughly amused by the current OSU situation. Pryor leaving was icing on the cake for me! However, as a sports fanatic I'm pretty shocked by everything and very curious to see where OSU's program goes from here and also what happens to Pryor, especially if the NFL's owners/players really do crush the heart and souls of fans by going through with the lockout. I also appreciate a good article. Good stuff. Seeing a familiar face using his writing talents may just have inspired me to go back into writing!

- Jonny E

Figgs said...

Thanks, Johnny. I'm really not a good writer, I just have a deep passion for Cleveland/Ohio St sports, but thanks though.

Andy said...

Excellent piece, Figgs, and I disagree with your modest assessment of your writing abilities.

The title cracked me up - it reminded me of someone txting a friend of mine that some colleagues (not hoes) had been behaving improperly, or in her words, "they scantles" (they are scandalous).

I'm glad you didn't miss an opportunity to take some potshots at michigan. I would argue that they actually are better at bricklaying, though, at least on the basketball court.

Really, the 2002 title is in jeopardy? I'd be surprised if the sanctions go back that far.

I don't trust guys named "Bo" nor guys named after pre-enlightenment Popes, but hopefully we get a solid leader.

Wow, Bauserman is still on the team? Pretty sure he and Boeckman had fused in my memory.

Figgs said...

Good call on the bricklaying. I was just trying to think of random activities. michigan still sucks.

The only reason I'm worried about the '02 title is because Clarett is talking again, apparently he's still alive. It should be fine but I just think if they really go deep into this every win that Tressel has been a part of could be in jeopardy.

Yeah, Bauserman and Boeckman are pretty much the same person. I think Boeckman had slightly more talent though. I really hope we just see Braxton from the first snap.