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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 04/27/2011 2:13 PM

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In Big-Time College Football Nobody Is Innocent
By Tony Gerdeman

News of the NCAA's Notice of Allegations to Ohio State has understandably been the popular topic around the college footballsphere for the last 24 hours or so.

It's been a story since December, and there doesn't appear to be any let up coming until October at the earliest. With periodic updates to re-enliven the clamorers, the echoes barely die down before new canyon-spanning cries take their place.

What the NCAA is alleging is not overly different from the information the university has admitted to prior, though it's not exact either. The allegations are the same—players sold items, got discounts, received improper benefits, and Jim Tressel knew about it, or at least should have known about it.

The good thing for Ohio State, however, is that no new allegations have emerged, nor have new targets emerged. Basically, the investigation is limited to Jim Tressel

But that doesn't mean the most recent round of rabble-rousing isn't without merit. Tressel's level of guilt hasn't diminished.

The facts haven't changed. Players broke rules and Tressel ignored it. He's still as deserving of dismissal as he was before, but he certainly isn't more deserving now. After all, it's not like he's done anything new since Ohio State sent their findings to the NCAA.

Just because there's another day or two of news cycling doesn't mean that another pound of flesh is due, especially since the NCAA is still chewing the fat on the last pound they took.

Certainly, Monday's update is worthy of commentary, critique and questioning, but any new cries for Jim Tressel to be fired are a little late, or remarkably early. If there is a straw that is going to break the camel's back, the camel's been carrying that straw for a while now.

That doesn't mean that a weightier load isn't coming Tressel's way once the NCAA makes their final ruling. At that time there will be actual reasons for new opinions, or more solidified ones, but we've got a long way to go until we reach that point.

The outpouring of glee and bile from the media and fans for this case, as well as the recent Auburn and USC cases, makes me think that people get the sport that they deserve.

I am guilty of this just like everybody else is. Everybody loves a good scandal. After all, everyone wants to see “the bad guy” get his comeuppance.

We, the jorted masses, enjoying our bread and circuses, always impatiently waiting for Caesar ESPN to tilt his damning thumb groundward.

This is the life that we have chosen: following a sport tainted by dagger-gripped hangers-on desperate for contact and always willing to “lend a hand'; a sport spoiled by athletes bolstered by the life that being a college football player can bring if you seek it; a sport tarnished by coaches who can justify winning at all costs as long as they just don't do it all of the time.

All of this under the umbrella of an organization of pick and choose, rules that drift out to sea with the tide, sometimes to be applied, and sometimes to be lost in the undertow.

It's a systemic problem in all of college football, and it's clearly alive and well at Ohio State.

What is it about college athletes that makes certain people want to give them money and whatever else? I would assume it's for the party invites, but I could be wrong. Do they keep giving money once an athlete has left the school?

At what point does a “benefit giver” stop giving benefits? I assume it's shortly after they stop getting whatever it is they're seeking in return.

When players funnel other players to Mr. Such and Such, has a player ever declined, knowing it was wrong? Has that player then ever gone to the university to let them know what they've seen?

Maybe. Would it matter? After all, the one thing that all of these situations has taught us is that just because somebody at a university is aware of wrongdoing doesn't mean it will get handled like it should.

Jim Tressel screwed up and he is going to pay, but nothing that came out this week changes what that ultimate price is going to be.

Each day the banks of approving public opinion continue to erode thanks to the rushing waters of media momentum, and it doesn't help that that momentum contains pearls of wisdom like “The first thing I'd tell them to do is quit recruiting players like Maurice Clarett and Terrelle Pryor,” from ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit.

Those two players could have gone anywhere in the country to play college football. The warning signs that Herbstreit now says should have been clear and apparent while they were being recruited is hindsight at its worst. Neither had ever been arrested for receiving stolen goods prior to being recruited like Cam Newton was. Have you ever heard anybody at ESPN say Auburn shouldn't have brought somebody like Cam Newton in?

Should Auburn stop recruiting players like Newton and Stanley McClover? Or should they simply stop recruiting any remaining children of Cecil Newton?

The problem isn't necessarily the type of player (especially since I don't even know what that means), it's the sense of entitlement—which is repeatedly realized—that causes the problem. A player can want the moon, but as long as there's nobody willing to give it to them, there is no problem.

If a tree falls in the forest, but nobody is there to give it a hundred-dollar handshake, is an infraction committed?

There are certainly players who would be viewed as risks, and if you don't think Ohio State, or any other school, has steered clear of certain kids, then you're flat wrong, but it's idiotic to cite one school for “taking a risk” on certain players, when 119 other schools would have gladly taken that same risk.

There are few things more useless than hindsight. Both Clarett and Pryor have brought more harm than good to Ohio State, but I don't remember hearing anybody arguing it before they even committed.

In a sport fathered by questionable high schools, disappointing athletes, disturbing panhandlees, morally-opaque head coaches, blood-soaked media, and the baffling NCAA, it's a wonder something as great as college football was ever spat out of its whore mother's spacious heathen womb.

There are no innocents here. Even those who have committed no wrongs carry the stink of those who have. You don't have to have your hand out to receive the benefits of a tainted reputation.

The love of money is the root of all evil, but the love of winning is a close second.

Jim Tressel made a mistake and his legacy will forever be changed because of it.

Few ever get out of the college football world without their share of wounds and scars, and now Jim Tressel will be no different.

Ohio State will heal with or without Tressel. The university and college football will move on. We will finish our bread and call it a day.

Then be right back at it again tomorrow.

We're all just as guilty, and just as much a part of this as Tressel, but at least we never pretended we weren't.

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