Here's something you can take with you into another sterile offseason, Indiana basketball fans: Your program may still be prostrate, but your school's never stood taller.
That's something Ohio State can't say today.
This after the school handed down a two-game suspension and $250,000 fine to football coach Jim Tressel, a joke of a "punishment" that fairly reeks of expediency. Everything that stinks to the heavens about big-boy college sports -- the excuse-making, the corruption, the betrayal of allegedly core values in deference to the bank balance -- is on display here, up to and including the school's president, Dr. Gordon Gee, making a joke when asked if the school considered firing Tressel for essentially A) violating certain terms of his contract, and then B) lying to school officials about it.
Gee's response? That he just hoped Tressel wouldn't fire him.
Does that or does that not say everythng you need to hear about Ohio State's priorities?
Here's the skinny, for those of you who've been ducking the news: Last fall, it was revealed that a handful of prominent Ohio State football players had sold some of their memorabilia to get tattoos. Said players -- which included star quarterback Terrelle Pryor -- were allowed to play in Ohio State's bowl game, but will sit out the first five games of next season as punishment.
Fast-forward to this week, when Yahoo broke the story that Tressel had received an e-mail about the players' activities last April -- or roughly eight months before Ohio State became aware of them. Rather than report the violations as his contract stipulated, Tressel said nothing to anyone. Then, when the infractions finally came to light, he told his own compliance people he didn't know anything of substance about them. His excuse when caught in that falsehood, laughably, was that he didn't know whom to tell.
This even though the language in his contract specifically instructs that he's to tell his AD and compliance officer.
The kicker to all this is not only is Ohio State not firing the guy, they're not even giving him the punishment the players received. And it's not even really a punishment, because the two games Tressel will miss are Akron and Toledo. And if you think this has nothing to do with the fact that the man has won Ohio State a national title and eight Big Ten titles and made his school millions in bowl money in the last decade, I've got some lovely oceanfront property in Nebraska I'd like you to see.
It fired Kelvin Sampson for making illicit phone calls, primarily because part of the agreement the school made with him when it hired him was that there would be no further phone shenanigans of the sort for which Sampson was whacked by the NCAA at Oklahoma. And then Tom Crean came in and cleaned out all the ethically sketchy players Sampson had brought in. And the program's still paying for it.
The school, however, is not. And will eventually reap the rewards of that.