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#pounditSaturday, May 8, 2021

Sports Illustrated Article on Ohio State Football Exposes Jim Tressel, Program

Jim Tressel resigned from his job as head football coach at Ohio State Monday morning, knowing fully well neither he nor the university would be able to face the media after the contents of Sports Illustrated’s report were revealed. SI had reporters George Dohrmann and David Epstein collaborate on a special that digs deeper into the existing issues we knew about Ohio State (read the entire report here).

The Buckeyes were already punished for having six players trade memorabilia for tattoos — a violation of NCAA rules. On top of that, the hookups players had with a car dealership had come under scrutiny based on Terrelle Pryor’s driving record. The words of former Ohio State basketball player Mark Titus corroborated the reports that Buckeyes football players were getting hookups at a dealership (also a violation of NCAA rules). Now we’re left with a more in-depth look at the blatant rule-breaking going on at Ohio State.

In short, SI refutes in such indisputable detail the notion that the merchandise-for-tattoo trades were limited to a select few members of the football team. That defeats Ohio State’s first defense argument where they tried to pin the actions on an isolated few members of the team. Additionally, they expose Jim Tressel as a fraud. Tressel built a reputation as a man of integrity over his ten years at Ohio State. He was someone who preached religious values and respect. Yet this is the same coach who lied to the NCAA and lied to school investigators.

On top of that, SI mentions the story of Tressel lying to a school investigator when he was at Youngstown State, something Sports by Brooks reported last month. The SI report also says Tressel fixed raffle drawings while he was an assistant coach at Ohio State in the ’80s so that prizes at a football camp went to elite recruits.

Not only does SI’s report show us that trading memorabilia for tattoo (and weed) was prevalent throughout the football program, it also destroys Jim Tressel’s individual character by showing how hypocritical he was. Here are some more of the juicy details they uncover.

While the head coach at Youngstown State, Tressel helped his star quarterback get out of traffic tickets:

[Former quarterback Ray] Isaac told SI, he asked the coach for help in getting out of traffic tickets. “He’d slot out two hours to meet and say, ‘Ray, I need you to read this book and give me 500 words on why it’s important to be a good student-athlete,'” Isaac says. Afterward the ticket would sometimes disappear, which, if Tressel intervened, would be an NCAA infraction.

Terrelle Pryor made no attempt to hide his exchanges of merchandise for tattoos:

“[One tattoo parlor employee] estimates that Pryor alone brought in more than 20 items, ­including game-worn shoulder pads, multiple helmets, Nike cleats, jerseys, game pants and more. One day Ellis asked Pryor how he was able to take so much gear from the university’s equipment room. Ellis says the quarter­back responded, “I get whatever I want.”

Players traded memorabilia for weed:

[One former tattoo parlor employee] did witness four other Buckeyes trade memorabilia for weed. Three of those transactions involved a small amount of the drug, he says, but in one instance a player departed with what Ellis was told was a pound.

Whether you feel the NCAA rules are reasonable is a separate discussion from what’s going on here. Whether you feel like extra benefits are available to players at most programs is also irrelevant at this time. What really matters is this shows us beyond a doubt that breaking the rules by trading merchandise for drugs and tattoos was part of the culture at Ohio State. We also have learned that Jim Tressel not only presided over this behavior and lied about it, but that he maintained and created the image of someone natural and wholesome. In the end, it’s been proven that he was nothing other than a gigantic fraud. The entire story is truly sad, and the end result is that Tressel will likely never coach another D-I college football game. You can also expect Ohio State to be handed harsh penalties following their hearing in August.


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