Sometimes life has a way of slapping all of us back into reality, making us realize what is truly important and, well, what really isn't. For the past 11 months, we have heard just how horrible a man former Ohio St. Buckeyes football coach Jim Tressel was for his actions involving Terelle Pryor and other Buckeyes players and their involvement with a Columbus-area tattoo parlor.
The players were selling Buckeyes memorabilia - their personal property - in exchange for cash and tattoos. Tressel, of course, was told about this and did not report it to school officials, then lied to the NCAA about what he knew, and when he knew it. Tressel was punished harshly for his poor decisions, forced to resign from his dream job under a shroud of shame. It is likely Jim Tressel will never get another head coaching job at a high-level college program again. He now spends his Sunday's telling Jim Caldwell, head coach of the winless Indianapolis Colts, whether or not he should throw the challenge flag. Has anyone fallen so far, so fast, for 'covering up' the actions of his players? Actions that were in no way 'illegal'?
Tressel's name has been drug through the mud. Ohio State has become a laughing stock in many respects and a punch-line. The school is still awaiting word on what punishment it will receive. It has already given away all their wins from 2010, including a win in the Sugar Bowl. The school has lost top-level recruits and a top-notch head coach. Why? Because Jim Tressel decided to PROTECT young men.
Less than a year later, the Godfather of college football head coaches, Joe Paterno, finds himself in the middle of something much more serious, much more heinous, and frankly, a situation that puts any college football scandal in the past to shame. Paterno was told that Jerry Sandusky, a former coach with the Nittany Lions under JoePa, had been allegedly seen molesting a young boy in the shower on campus. Paterno, to his credit, took the report to school officials. This was in 2002. Nothing was done.
Obviously the allegations alone make this much more troubling. Not only was Sandusky seen in the shower with a boy acting inappropriately, the person who saw this take place, a current coach on the Penn State staff, did nothing to stop it. Paterno, although he did report it, allowed Sandusky to remain around the program.
A person familiar with Sandusky's relationship with Penn State told The Associated Press that the former coach long maintained an office in the East Area Locker building which is across the street from the Penn State football team's building, and was on campus as recently as week ago working out.
That, in all honesty, is completely unacceptable and Joe Paterno, who just last week became the All-Time winningest coach in NCAA history, should immediately be fired. Reports say that Sandusky, even while he was the target of a 3-year grand jury investigation, was in and around the Penn State campus, working out at school facilities as recently as last week. The fact that Sandusky would have access to the program, with Paterno KNOWING that Sandusky has used the school's facilities to abuse young boys might be the egregious act by any coach at any level.
While Paterno is not a target of the criminal investigation, he cannot be allowed to continue as the head coach at Penn State. The backlash against Tressel for his ethical mistakes pale in comparison to what Joe Paterno turned his back to for the last 15 years at Penn State. Jim Tressel lost his job and credibility trying to protect young men. Joe Paterno should lose a lot more for failing to protect young buys from a monster that he, himself, allowed to have access to the very facilities that Sandusky used to reportedly commit his ghastly crimes.
Sure, I'm an Ohio State Buckeyes fan. I, for one, agreed to Jim Tressel's departure, simply because the situation had become so toxic that it was impossible for Tressel to stay. At the same time, however, I find it laughable that the system in place in college football continues to propagate a climate of lies, a factory of lawlessness, among it's coaches yet will punish young men for actions that are lawful - even if questionable.
The NCAA and the 24-hour news cycle set the standard for how a college football scandal should be handled. Jim Tressel lost everything for doing nothing. Joe Paterno, even at 84 years old, should lose a lot more.