April is a cruel time for college football writers. National signing day is gone; spring practices are wrapping up, and the summer doldrums await. It's understandable, then, that a story like the Jim Tressel investigation gets snapped up for pundits to take practice swings at, in the absence of actual bad football decisions over which to excoriate their favorite targets. We absolutely do not begrudge them this time. Offseason conditioning is important for us all, and besides, most of this makes for highly entertaining reading. Some of our favorite takes from the week are rounded up below.
First up, we've got no less than the Associated Press taking Tressel to the woodshed, in a column titled, "Tressel lies are an embarrassment to Ohio State":
Consider that Tressel knew he was doing something wrong himself when he said late last year that his players must have known they did something wrong [...] "I suppose that would be something rattling around inside the head of each of them individually," he said at the time. "We all have a little sensor within us, 'Well, I'm not sure if I should be doing this.'" Apparently that little sensor malfunctioned in Tressel, especially on Sept. 13 of last year.
Then it's SEC elder statesman Tony Barnhart's turn at the pinata, and he's taking this fight regional:
I don't want to hear any more lectures on ethics or morals or accountability from that part of the world -- not if Jim Tressel returns as Ohio State's football coach this season. If a Southern football coach did what Tressel did, which was to engage in an orchestrated coverup of potential NCAA violations, the calls for his firing would have been immediate and would have come from sea to shining sea, especially from the Big Ten. And they would be right.
The always-jocular Jason Whitlock has his patented contrarian's take on the matter:
Firing Jim Tressel is the easy way out. It’s a high-profile drug bust. It’s dope on the table worthy of a televised press conference and a slew of journalism awards for The Columbus Dispatch. You don’t need to be Slim Charles to understand that, in the aftermath of Tressel’s tattoo cover-up, "the game remains the same, just more fierce."
And in the most curious twist of all, the FireJimTressel.com website (it's been around for a while, and yes, every coach has one, probably) is ... defending the site's designated punching bag?
I know there is a lot of people calling for Tressel's head, and I know there's a lot of people acting like this is a major, major violation. I'm obviously not a big fan of Tressel when it comes to his X's and O's, but I still can't buy into this thing as some type of major, career ending violation.
All [sics] aside, truly, college football makes strange bedfellows.