Thus, we’ve heard a lot today about the grief of the Buckeye Nation while we were travelling across a few counties. Now, granted, my sources are limited (610 WTVN and its viewers, then a brief moment with ESPN this evening), but I’ve been able to loosely gather my own opinion on the situation.
I know, no one asked my opinion. But this is a blog. It’s what I do. I opine.
I think it’s best for everyone that Jimmy T takes an exit. Here’s my reasoning:
1. First and foremost, Ohio State University is an organization of higher education. It’s a body of people who are dedicated to shaping and developing the lives students. I think the university should choose very carefully, then, what leaders influence these young people and the message they bring. (I could go off on a tangent about what it means that our society associates sporting events so highly with an entity that supposed to be about the chemistry and literature, but I’ll save that for another day).
1a. This means teaching young people that your actions do matter, that you can’t just sweep your mistakes under a rug and hope SI doesn’t uncover it. Fess up, own up, pay up – learn your lesson and move on. A commentator made a comparison to “it’s what any of us would do for our kids…” and I question the logic behind parents doing just that (though, I do think this might be some sort of greater micro- or macro-cosm of what we’re teaching young people nowadays because I think this is a more comment experience that what we might realize). By aiding and abetting, we aren’t offering our young people the opportunity to learn the valuable lesson of responsibility and accountability. I’ve spoken to a gaggle of teachers and those who work with a younger generation who would agree: we’re not doing anyone favors by dealing with it for them. We can be supportive, loving, forgiving and help ease the burn, but we shouldn’t habitually be teaching young people that you can avoid the heat. Parents – and I do think Tressel is a father figure to many of his boys – should carefully weigh the long-term effects of an attitude of Daddy Fix It.
2. I read on FB today that “Tressel just cared for his players too much.” Boo. Hickey. Sticks. He cared about the surface area on his body most commonly used to sit upon. If he truly cared about the long-term development of his students, see 1a. I’m not saying he doesn’t care about his kids – I’m positive he does – I’m just saying that they weren’t his primary reasoning.
2b. Then he lied. Not an action typically associated with caring about others.
I think Tressel’s a good coach and probably a good person. I’m enough of a cynic to say he’s probably not doing anything that 92% of those in similar situations aren’t already doing. But I’m not sure it matters. Rules – even stupid rules, if that’s what you want to argue – are rules, and all parties involved knew them. And the NCAA, if it wants to be taken seriously on these stances, must enforce to the full extent if it wants players and coaches to know that it is serious. Like the first day of class, the first one to test the lines and boundaries will probably endure a stricter punishment and be made an example of. But that’s classroom management. It’s sending a message to gain respect. It’s saying, “If you want to play in my club, here are my rules. Or take your ball and go home.”
So despite the fact that Jim’s a good guy and a great coach, I think OSU made some wise decisions. Sure, there are lots of variables and he’s not the only one who knew and took these actions. But that’s the essence of leadership; taking the fall, and [even if eventually] owning the mistakes comes with the job description.