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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Two games not enough for Tressel

By Marla Published: March 9, 2011

The five players who were found to have accepted the most money in their sale of Ohio State memorabilia  to the owner of a Columbus tattoo parlor  were suspended by the NCAA for five games in 2011.

The coach who knew about their transgressions and repeatedly covered them up until he was caught was suspended by the university for two games in 2011. Sorry Mid-American Conference, but for two games against Akron and Toledo, which the Buckeyes could win in their sleep even if Jim Tressel is banned from the Woody Hayes Center for the entire 14-day span.

To me, this does not compute.

I'll be stunned if the NCAA does not come down harder on Tressel than the university did Tuesday. If the players deserved five games -- which OSU is still appealing -- doesn't the coach who shoulders the responsibility of being the program's watchdog deserve more?

That's why they pay him the big bucks, in this case $3.5 million per year. Even the $250,000 fine was a slap on the wrist, considering what he earns.

While I don't believe Tressel should be fired --  which was totally within the university's power considering the clause in his contract -- I think an NCAA suspension of at least half the season or more is warranted. In fact, I'd be fine with an entire season.

If anyone thinks the Buckeyes are going to contend for a national title in 2011, they're suffering delusions of grandeur. I'd feel that way even if quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, left tackle Mike Adams and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas weren't sitting out for five games.

The pursuit of a national title is what got Tressel in this mess. That's also what got him in a similar mess with former running back Maurice Clarett. The Buckeyes wouldn't have won a national championship in 2002 without Clarett. In both cases, Tressel danced with the devil (Pryor and Clarett) because he knew what glory their talents might deliver.

Clarett was eventually suspended for a season for receiving improper benefits and lying to NCAA investigators. This case revolves around the same issues, improper benefits and lying to investigators (in this instance, Tressel's statements to the university and the NCAA).

Tressel's reputation will be forever tarnished no matter how many hospitals he visits. Although perhaps not in the mind of president E. Gordon Gee, at least until this incident starts hurting OSU when it comes to recruiting and Big Ten titles.

Tattoogate and the two e-mails Tressel received from an unidentified attorney tipping him off to it will open the floodgates for more investigative reporters. Yahoo Sports, which broke the story, surely will continue to root into his background. I'd be surprised if ESPN the Magazine and some others didn't start digging as well. Clarett may again become a thorn in OSU's side, even if Tressel did field calls from the UFL for him when he was released from prison last spring.

It's a mess all around, one totally deserving of a season's suspension for Tressel. Considering what could be to come, he might be lucky if that's all he gets.

Yes, he's a good man. A good man who knew better.

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