- Associated Press - Monday, May 30, 2011

Jim Tressel was just working the system. For much of the past decade, he knew his job was safe even while his program flouted the rules over and over.

The formula is well-known to everyone in the coaching profession: Win enough games, pad the coffers, capture a championship every now and then, and the job is yours unless you do something REALLY bad.

Tressel finally did something REALLY bad _ covering up NCAA violations at Ohio State for close to a year _ but you still have to wonder why it took so long for this day to arrive.

What we need is a death penalty for coaches. After two strikes, he’s done. For good.

Tressel would have been gone long ago.

Even before he got to Ohio State, Tressel ran afoul of the rules with his recruitment of the star quarterback at little Youngstown State.

Turns out, the man known as “the Vest” was just getting warmed up.

The sliminess went big time in the Big Ten, from the offensive coordinator who tried to arrange a loan AND a car for a recruit, to the future Heisman Trophy winner taking 500 bills from a booster. There was never a shortage of Buckeyes on the arrest blotter, and the sleaze-o-meter was flashing like a slot machine when Tressel somehow figured out a way to get Maurice Clarett in school long enough to win a national championship before he traded his football uniform for prison scrubs.

No problem, coach.

As long as we’re beating Michigan and capturing trophies, it’s all good.

They could shut down these rogues if they really wanted to, but no one has the guts to take on deluded alumni who equate the success of athletic programs with the worth of their own lives? Certainly not Ohio State president-slash-apologist Gordon Gee, who joked back in February that he had no intention of firing Tressel.

“Are you kidding?” Gee said. “I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me.”

This was AFTER the president learned his coach had known for months that several players, including starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, were selling off rings, uniforms and just about anything that wasn’t nailed down to a shady tattoo-parlor owner. Instead of telling his bosses about the NCAA violations, Tressel decided to keep that juicy little bit of information to himself.

Well, this episode of “Columbus Ink” wound up leading to the coach’s cancellation. Tressel was unable to stave off the critics of his don’t-ask-and-definitely-don’t-tell policy by volunteering for a five-game suspension _ same as his wayward players _ and agreeing to pay a hefty fine.

Coming across a hypocrite to the very end, Tressel signed off his resignation letter by saying, “We know that God has a plan for us and we will be fine. We will be Buckeyes forever.”

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