The NFL may not even exist this year. That leaves college as the only thing to feed my football crack addiction. Previously on life support for this upcoming season due to several suspensions, tOSU football for 2011 (and likely the next few years) officially died yesterday. Dark times for Ohio football indeed.
Though the city of Cincy does not really follow tOSU (and many hate them), they are my college football team of choice. They serve a useful purpose in a sports fandom for me that consists of the Bengals, Reds and Knicks...they actually win. Given the amount of pain the Bengals and Knicks in particular bring to the table, this is not an insignicant thing for my sanity. And it is now gone. Which sucks.
For the usual, knee jerk, "OMG SHAME ON U OSU" reaction, see Greg Doyel's column. For a more balanced take, even though it comes from a tOSU blog, see Eleven Warriors. The cliff notes: Tressel's cover up was far worse than the crimes (in fact, they aren't even crimes, just some kids selling their own private property basically).
One common reaction was that Tressel was very stupid to cover up and lie about what appears to be pretty minor infractions. So how could he be so dumb? Here's why he did it, and here's why it wasn't really dumb:
First, read Doc's column where he touches on the fact that Tressel sold everyone a fake sanctimonious image. Apparently Tressel even wrote two books about how to do things the right way. Anyone in Ohio can tell you Tressel's image was crucial to his popularity and success.
Second, realize this fact: The current system of big time college football (and basketball), where players cannot be paid for the massive revenues they generate, guarantees the existence of a black market for their services. This is just economics and human nature 101. Big time college football is inherently corrupt.
Therefore, when you operate in the world of big time college football, if you want to do things the right way, your righteousness will be under permanent assault. Eventually, you will slip up, give in, make a mistake or just totally aquiesce under this siege. And that's the biggest problem Tressel and others who put up a sanctimonious image face when coaching big time college football: when your entire image depends on doing things the "right way" and doing things the "right way" is an impossibility, then there is no choice but to cover up things done the "wrong way" and hope to get away with it.
The cover up was not dumb by Tressel, it was his only choice given the image he chose to sell.
Anyway, I guess tOSU will now likely spend some time in NCAA purgatory before Urbz shows up to rescue the program and the machine begins to hum again.
Final Thought: college football coaching differs from the NFL in that college coaches can achieve an institutionalized status that just isn't possible at the NFL level (with a small handful of exceptions that mostly ended decades ago). They can establish their own empire. Become almost a political figure in some sense (state employees after all). Think JoePa at PSU. There's a reason Tressel's nickname was Senator Sweatervest. That attracts a certain type of personality that has calculating ambition. And those people will do almost anything to keep their position and build their power.
Look no further than Brian Kelly and Notre Dame. A student was killed due to gross negligence at his practice and he will not take personal responsibility. He just achieved the job of his dreams. A lifetime of work completely paying off. And then a kid dies. No way he was letting that prevent him from living his dream. It's awful. But that's college football. It is a machine that produces shitty behavior. Getting made at the individual components of that machine is pointless.