Each week during the off-season we will be doing this feature that will simply be called "This Week In College Football". We will cover the biggest news and stories of the past week and give some opinions and analysis. This week was really slow for college football news. Not much happened. Seriously though, this seems like it's been a pretty busy off-season so far and we still have a long way to go. Let's not waste anymore time let's get started with the Ohio State cover-up...
Jim Tressel Trades Integrity For Wins
Unless you live under a rock or in a cave then you know what happened at Ohio State this week. If you don't know then you can visit Delany's Dozen for the info or go to In The Bleachers for a take from a guy we trust. I will spare you the details here and I'll just get to my opinion. Tressel found out that he had some players that had committed violations and instead of turning in that information he made the conscious decision to sit on the information.
By sitting on the information he was knowingly playing guys who were ineligible to play (based on the A.J. Green ruling it should have been clear to anybody that these players would be sitting a minimum of four games). In addition to playing ineligible players he also signed a compliance form for his employer during the season saying that he had no knowledge of any potential NCAA violations. When the story actually broke he lied about any prior knowledge of the situation, which probably went a long way towards the NCAA making the decision to let the ineligible players play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. Tressel has been suspended for two games (against Akron and Toledo- wow, tough punishment) and fined $250,000 (which is the equivalent of a $2,500 fine for the average American) by his University. Obviously, that's a joke. I think the fairest thing to do given Tressel's track-record (which Dr Saturday wraps up quite nicely) is to make an example out of him. If he were to do something like this in the real world (cover up your subordinates violating company policies, lie to your employer and cover something up that would get your company in huge trouble) he would be fired. I'm not going to go as far as saying that they guy should be fired. That's up to Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith, who I don't think has the balls to do it (whether you think he should be fired or not). I don't think the fine should be monetary but I think you start with taking away all the wins Ohio State had last year.
The players in question should have been suspended to start the season and since it wasn't done then you have to go back and take those wins away. That's really just a paper slap and doesn't mean anything (although it does take away Ohio State's bowl win against an SEC opponent). I think you also take away Ohio State's ability to go to a bowl for two years and I think you take away some scholarships as well. If Ohio State were to part ways with Tressel prior to the NCAA ruling on the penalties to be given to Ohio State then I would go much more leniently (probably just a one year suspension from bowl season and taking away the wins from the 2010-2011 season). As far as Tressel goes, I think you suspend him for the 2011 season or for all of the Big Ten conference games. You simply can't have a coach covering up things that other schools are getting punished for.
Unless you make the punishment something that actually matters then you will have other people follow suit since they know they won't get punished (risk vs reward). I understand that there are other teams and coaches out there doing things that they shouldn't be doing but at some point you have to draw a line in the sand and not condone people lying and cheating to the extent that happened here. Sometimes in life and in our jobs we have to make tough decisions. Decisions that we know will set us back from short-term goals. Tressel made a decision to avoid making that choice and it's simply an unacceptable response from someone in his position.
Auburn Is Going After Another Championship
The Auburn Tigers have followed up their National Title by immediately going after another title, and going after it hard. Unfortunately for Auburn that title is the Fulmer Cup. Four Auburn players (Antonio Goodwin, Shaun Kitchens, Mike McNeil, and Dakota Mosley) were arrested on Friday morning and each were charged with five counts of first-degree robbery, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of third-degree theft of property. Obviously, these guys weren't paying attention to what happened when those guys up at Tennessee tried something similar to this last year. Gene Chizik "permanently" dismissed these players from the team later that same day. So that makes five guys that have been kicked off a team (don't forget about RB Eric Smith who was also dismissed after a domestic violence charge in February) that is returning the least amount of starters in all of major college football.
The biggest loss for Auburn is Mike McNeil. McNeil was one of only five starters returning on the defense and was the second leading returning tackler on the team (he also had 14 tackles in the National Championship Game against Oregon). His departure leaves only one starter returning in the secondary for Auburn. The loss of Goodwin and Kitchens really hurts too (especially Goodwin as he could have been a factor for them this year) because Auburn returns the least amount of receptions in the SEC this year (they only return about 36% of their receiver production from last year and will have to replace their two leading receivers). The off-season is still in it's infant stage folks, this is going to be a long off-season. My pre-season prediction right now has Auburn sitting at fifth in the SEC West and I still think Gus Malzahn should have taken the Vandy job.
A Fallen Star
Who remembers Star Jackson? He was a 4-star recruit that signed with Alabama (over offers from Auburn, Georgia and West Virginia among others) and was ranked by Rivals as the #5 overall QB in the class of 2008. Things didn't go his way at Bama and last year he made the decision to transfer to the new up-start program at Georgia State. Jackson was beaten out by Drew Little for the starting spot and only threw 10 passes with the Panthers last year (5 of 10 for 42 yards with 2 interceptions and 17 net yards rushing while seeing action in 4 games). Despite Drew Little being suspended for the first 4 games of this coming season Jackson has made the decision to transfer from the Panthers program for "personal reasons." Jackson will have to sit out a year if he transfers to another NCAA school and then will only have one year of eligibility remaining.
Boise State and Georgia Just Got More Interesting
The Boise State/Georgia game that starts off the year for both teams already has a lot of intriguing story-lines. Well, it just got a little more interesting. Why? One of Boise State's back-up QBs is transferring to Georgia as a walk-on. Mike Tamburo, who played his High School football at North Gwinnett High School in the suburbs of Atlanta, will be a red-shirt sophomore and will join the Bulldogs as a walk-on this fall prior to their match-up with Boise State. Tamburo probably won't be a factor at QB at Georgia and his decision is based more on education and getting closer to home. But....you have to think that he can drop some knowledge on the Georgia coaching staff. Tamburo will finish up school this spring at Boise before transferring to Georgia and you have to think that it will be awkward for him on campus until he leaves.