By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) I can’t believe I’m writing this, but the NCAA got it right with the sanctions it handed Ohio State Tuesday.
The breakdown of the punishment is as follows:
– A one-year postseason ban, including a bowl game and Big Ten Championship Game.
– The loss of four scholarships over a three-year period in addition to the five Ohio State already took away in it’s self-imposed punishment.
– An extra year of probation in addition to the two-year probation Ohio State self-imposed. If OSU commits any other violations during the next three years, it could be hit with even harsher penalties.
– A five-year show cause penalty for former head coach Jim Tressel. If a school hires him in the next five years, they could face NCAA sanctions as well.
There’s no question a postseason ban was in order, but I had my doubts that the NCAA would actually hand down such a penalty. When he took the Ohio State job, Urban Meyer seemed supremely confident that no further penalties would be handed down and the skeptic in me felt like he had some inside information. It turns out, he just had the extremely dumb information provided by his incompetent athletic director (more on that in a second).
In the aftermath of the Reggie Bush scandal, USC was given a two-year postseason ban. The Trojans fought the NCAA throughout the investigation, which is a huge no-no, so I figured Ohio State would get a lesser penalty. One year is fair.
Gene Smith Misreads The Situation
I’ve already called out Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee and Athletic Director Gene Smith numerous times throughout this ordeal and I have to do it again. I have no idea how either kept their job over the summer and, once again, I need someone to tell me how Smith survives after his latest blunder.
After a 6-6 dud of a season under Luke Fickell, the Buckeyes had a chance to skip out on a bowl bid. Basically it would have been an easy way of self-imposing a postseason ban, which could have pleased the NCAA enough to not ban them from a bowl next year. Instead, Smith chose to accept a bid to the Gator Bowl.
Today, Smith said in a statement: “We are surprised and disappointed with the NCAA’s decision.”
Clearly he was not expecting a postseason ban.
The NCAA declined to say Tuesday whether or not Ohio State’s trip to the Gator Bowl affected the decision to institute a postseason ban for next season, but it’s certainly possible that Smith essentially chose the 2012 Gator Bowl over the 2013 Rose Bowl.
See You In Indy, Wisconsin
Ohio State is going to be good next season, but if even the Buckeyes run the table, they won’t be going to the Big Ten Championship Game. And with Penn State’s program in shambles, that makes the Wisconsin Badgers the runaway favorite to represent the Leaders Division in next year’s Big Ten Championship Game.
Wisconsin will have to replace its starting quarterback, No. 1 wide receiver and possibly its starting running back if Montee Ball leaves for the NFL, but there’s still a lot of talent on that team. Who’s going to unseat the Badgers? Purdue? Illinois?
Badger fans can start booking their trip to Indy now.
Impact On Recruiting
Urban Meyer has been on a nationwide recruiting blitz since he accepted the job, which is why it was important for the NCAA to hand down these sanctions as soon as possible. He’s landed four commits in the last few weeks and it isn’t fair for high school kids to be committing to a school when they don’t know what kind of penalties the school is going to face.
Meyer has gone after a number of kids currently committed to other schools so for any kids on the fence, they now know Ohio State won’t be playing in a bowl game next year. That’s significant.
Meyer can still sell kids on the idea of redshirting next season with four bowl eligible years remaining. He’ll also have to deal with any seniors who might want to transfer without a one-year penalty because of the postseason ban. It could also lead to a few leaving for the NFL a year early.
Tressel Hit Hardest
No one was hit harder by these penalties than Tressel. Meyer can easily get Ohio State through a one-year postseason and the loss of nine scholarships.
Tressel’s college coaching career might be over.
No school is going to hire him during the five year show-cause penalty. The question is, will anyone want him five years from now? Will he even want to coach then?
Tressel has been consulting for the Indianapolis Colts this year. If he wants to keep coaching, it will have to be in the NFL or, gulp, the high school level.
Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.