Jim Tressel resigned as head coach at Ohio State last week amidst a merchandise-for-tattoos and weed scandal engulfing the program. Worst of all, Tressel lied to his university and the NCAA about the problems, covering up for his players. The NCAA reportedly is targeting North Carolina next, and their recent targets have also included USC and Auburn. It almost seems like the list of programs in the clear is shorter than the ones accused of violations. According to former long-time Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden, part of the problem is that the NCAA has too many rules.
When asked by the radio show Chuck and Vince Live if it was possible to run a clean program, he said “No. And by that, I don’t mean that some coaches purposely try to break the rules.”
Bowden said there are so many rules it’s hard not to break them. He also explained that you can have a coach and program that is clean and all it takes is one dishonest player that hurt the whole program.
While his words seem sympathetic, it’s not entirely accurate.
If the NCAA determines that coaches could have done more to curb the problem, they hold the coach accountable. For instance, with USC their programs were mainly brought down by Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo. When you bring superstars like that into your program (particularly Mayo), you have to keep your eye on them more than a typical player. Even the USC coaches acknowledged that they followed some players closer than others. And if the NCAA determines there wasn’t much the coaches or program could have done, the program won’t be brought down; penalties will generally be minimal.
Bowden also said that Ohio State doesn’t need to cheat because the players come to them. He added that Tressel should have reported the violations immediately, and that he and his staff would investigate anytime they saw players driving luxury cars. While we agree that some rules don’t make much sense, the NCAA generally hands down punishments based on the scale of the problem. For a program like Ohio State, their problems were widespread and that’s why the punishments will be harsher.
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