Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jim Tressel - Good Coach, Bad Role Model

Jim Tressel. Photo:AP
Ohio State Buckeyes fans everywhere are picking sides...who is Jim Tressel? Is he a caring coach and a  man of character and was simply unaware of NCAA infractions by his players or is he a man focused on winning at any cost?

To the public, Tressel is a man that has been the only role model that many of his players have in their lives. Most college students today come from single parent families or families where both parents are working, with little time for their kids, so Tressel filled that void. Tressel has been portrayed as a church going man that had his team spending time learning about character as well as the OSU playbook.

For a man that has been so involved with his players, guiding them down the field and on the right path of life, he seemed strangely unaware of what was going on around him.

Hang with me a second Buckeye faithful. For several years, I worked as an administrator in higher education. I constantly had students in and out of my office. In working with them, I got to know them. One thing about college kids, if they think they can get an inch from you, they will come back in the evening with their buddies and a steam roller. I find it hard to believe the Buckeye players were any different. I don't for a second believe that Tressel let those guys run him over. He knew these guys. He knew their friends, their families, if they had girlfriends, probably what kind of car they drove. So for him to not know that they were rolling around in new cars that they couldn't afford or in new full sleeve tattoos (which can cost in the $1,000s) is ridiculous.

For Tressel to not know he was sending his players to meet with athletic boosters that were known for breaking the NCAA rules is an absurd assumption.

Tressel was to smart for that. The OSU fundraising department would have given Tressel every last detail on every donor to the program. Tressel gives a donor a handshake and asks about his kids, and boom there goes an extra zero on the donor check. 

The argument may be made that the student athletes were only getting a piece of what is owed to them. The OSU, Nike and the NCAA making significant amounts of money because of their talents. That argument however doesn't cut it. The athletes are being "paid" with a free college education. Free room and board. Free books. Free sweatshirts. Are they getting paid what they deserve? It doesn't matter. How many times were we all in a job that we were underpaid at? How many of us had bosses that would snag your fantastic idea and get promoted for it while you had to stay late and clean out the communal fridge?

 I don't for an instant believe that Tressel was some bumbling old man that was taken for a ride by his team. I think he was the one driving the car.

Ultimately, Tressel resigned in what I like to think was his last lesson to his team. If you make a mistake, take responsibility for it.

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