For several months, we've covered the controversies surrounding Ohio State's athletic department, from the initial charges received in late-April to the questionable automobile "purchases" and the reaction to them. Today, the first real casualty from these incidents has emerged.
Jim Tressel, rogue coach and all-around good guy, has resigned as head football coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
And you thought this offseason would be dull.
In theory, this should come as no surprise. A coach in Tressel's predicament would have been discontinued by most schools at the very beginning. That he survived five months since the first allegations broke is a testament to Ohio State President Gordon Gee and his loving motto -
That sound bite will be replayed ad nauseum today. What could have prompted such a drastic shift in position from the Buckeye administration? As reported last week, George Dohrmann, a Sports Illustrated contributor, had been in Columbus investigating the Buckeye program and had written an article that is said to detail Tressel's unethical football business dating back to his tenure as head coach of Youngstown State.
Dohrmann's no slouch journalist. In 1999, his thorough investigation for the St Paul Pioneer-Press resulted in Clem Haskins dismissal from the Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball team. That earned him a Pulitzer Prize. Just this past year, Dohrmann co-authored the story of Josh Luchs, a former agent who has admitted to paying college athletes. Though Ohio State claims that Tressel's resignation is "unrelated to the media," Dorhmann himself notes on Twitter that his story will likely be posted at some point today and that the timing of the decision will "make sense after you read it."
Taking over for Tressel will be assistant coach Luke Fickell, a former Buckeye nose guard. Fickell was tapped to lead the team during Tressel's five game suspension this year and will act as interim head coach for the entire season.
This is not a good day for the Buckeyes, who lose a coach that went 106-22 (for now) and may very well be the best coach in program history. This is, however, a very good day for college football and the Big Ten in particular, a league that prides itself on doing things the right way. This doesn't solve the problems for Ohio State; they'll still appear in front of the Committee on Infractions in August and have to account for the multiple issues in their football program. For now, however, it appears as if the university is finally being proactive and taking steps to clean up Columbus.