Jim Tressel made the correct move in resigning Monday as Ohio State football coach.
It should have happened months ago.
As much as it might pain a Buckeye fan to miss his coaching resume of 106-22, eight BCS games, a share or outright six Big Ten titles and winning nine of 10 games against the University of Michigan, this was right decision for both Tressel and the university.
As evidenced by the marks, Tressel did well on the field. He coached many players who have gone on to the National Football League, including Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith.
He took over an OSU football program in 2001 that was dealing with its own issues with off-the-field problems of coach John Cooper, plus a 2-10-1 mark against Michigan and 3-8 in bowl games.
Tressel had been in trouble before coming to OSU. He was the coach at Youngstown State when it received scholarship and recruiting restrictions for violations involving star quarterback Ray Isaacs.
There was also instances of trouble in his tenure at OSU.
Then there was the Maurice Clarett fiasco in 2003.
Clarett reported that a used car he had borrowed from a local dealer was broken into and that he had been hit by thousands of dollars in losses. Clarett's call to police came from Tressel's office. Clarett admitted he had made up the break-in call and later took a plea deal. But the NCAA began looking into Clarett and the team. Soon after, he was declared ineligible. He would never play another college game.
In 2004, Smith was suspended for the bowl game and the regular-season opener in 2005 for accepting $500 from a booster.
But the last six months or so when it really hit and therein lies the problem.
Ohio State’s football program has been in shambles since December when six players were suspended by the NCAA for selling or trading uniforms and other memorabilia to a Columbus tattoo-parlor owner. The NCAA also drew criticism for allowing the players to participate in the Sugar Bowl instead of serving their suspensions immediately.
Tressel expressed surprise in December at the revelations of his players being involved with the tattoo-parlor operator, but the university learned in January that Tressel was told of the relationship last April in an e-mail from a former OSU player. The coach did not share that information with the university as his contract requires, nor did he reveal it when he signed an NCAA compliance form in September verifying that he was unaware of any possible violations.
He was suspended two games and fined $250,000 for his actions. He requested that his suspension be increased to five games to match the penalty his players received. The university obliged.
It hasn’t gotten better either.
He tried to deal major sanctions, many of whom he brought upon himself, but in the end it became too much.
It’s going to get worse before it gets better for OSU. The public perception of the university is not good and more and more comes out each day.
They go before the NCAA in August to see what further sanctions will happen. It may not be pretty, Buckeye fans.
In the meantime, Luke Fickell has the unenviable task of taking over for Tressel with all the problems hanging over the program. It won’t be easy.
Not only does OSU have to replace athletes on the field, but this is going to be with them everywhere they go with a first-year head coach. And they go to Ann Arbor this season.
But at least one problem has been solved.
What will the Tressel legacy be at OSU? The one that won games and championships and brought about loyalty from former players and fans or the one that is leaving the university until a black cloud?
I would imagine a little of both, depending on what side of the ledger you’re on
This chapter had to be finished, though. No one person is above the university, no matter how he has been successful. It’s time for OSU to start a new chapter.