For those of you who have read here before (and you probably know me in real life too), you know that I love Ohio State. I love the campus, I love the people and I love the athletics. Especially football. And in college football, where players are only around for moments, you become attached to the coach. And damn if I don’t love Jim Tressel. And most Ohio State fans do as well. People joke about him being a god in the church that is Ohio Stadium. We’ve idolized him, put him on a pedestal. (Also I’m a very emotional girl. Which makes for some interesting reactions to my sports.)
I wonder if that’s why I feel so hurt?
Two nights ago, when the news broke that Jim Tressel knew about tattoo-gate in April of last year, I didn’t want to believe it. I treated it just like the report in December that he was retiring- a fleeting moment of panic, followed by denial of “that can’t be true.” And it continued until yesterday when Ohio State announced a press conference. At first, I had a moment of hope. Surely they’re going to announce that it’s all okay. That feeling of hope lasted only a moment before the panic set in. I didn’t want my coach gone, and I didn’t want to believe that he had done something wrong. He couldn’t give this program that he loves a black eye. There was no way that he did something this wrong…a lie to win games.
And yet….he did. He lied for ten months.
A part of me wants to defend him. Tattoo-gate is the dumbest thing I’ve seen in college sports in a long time. It’s a stupid rule. And I can’t imagine the pressure that Jim Tressel lives with to win…the players involved were some of the biggest playmakers on the team. I don’t even know what I would have done if I was put in those shoes…knowing I had a chance at the national championship. And it’s a stupid rule anyway…
It’s not the first time that Jim Tressel has screwed up. He’s had multiple players receive booster money, both at Ohio State and Youngstown State. Ohio State does the most self-reporting to the NCAA, but someone has to be breaking the rules that much for that many reports. As much as I want him to be, he’s not the real life Eric Taylor. He’s a real person.
I said last night on Twitter that I don’t think that Jim Tressel is a bad person. I still don’t.
I didn’t watch the press conference last night. I’ve limited how much I’ve read about it. Because to be honest…it hurts. Salt in the wound. I just read a piece on ESPN and wanted to hit the author and yet I knew that he was right. For once, the ESPN bias wasn’t wrong.
Jim Tressel betrayed me. I can’t look at him without feeling it.
I’m grieving today.
Grieving the loss of the coach on the pedestal and trying to realize that he’s just a mortal. A man who has screwed up. And probably will again.
I know Tressel is going to be fine. Ohio State Football will survive. Lord knows we’ve had coaches with issues before. I’ve prepared myself for more penalties from the NCAA. I’ve prepared myself for a long next season.
I know that we’ll all move on. Most will get past this hurt. There will be another scandal in college football and attentions will be directed elsewhere.
And in the grand scheme of things…this is so inconsequential that it’s laughable.
Today, my heart is still denying that this happened. My head is screaming and just wants to know why. Eventually, I’ll accept that this happened.
I won’t be over it soon though.
September 3, I will probably be wearing a sweater vest. I might even be wearing it in Ohio Stadium.
Today, I’m glad I never unpacked my Tressel memorabilia.
I’m afraid what I would do to it.
We should strive to keep the name,
Of fair repute and spotless fame,
So, in college halls we’ll grow,
To love the better, O-hi-o. -Carmen Ohio