I don't have too much to say over the conundrum in Buckeye Land. I do think OSU President Gee's comment about firing Tressel was telling. He said he hoped Tressel didn't dismiss him. This was disappointing from Gee given that he was responsible for eliminating Vanderbilt's athletic department (during his tenure as chancellor) and incorporating it into the Division of Student Life. This move drew both criticism and cheers--from then-NCAA president Myles Brand in fact.
Guess things must be different at OSU. Still it's disappointing that Gee, who reined things in at Vanderbilt, seems more comfortable letting things get out of hand at OSU.
Anyway, two anecdotes related to this situation.
One, this past winter/spring in a new gym (for me) I frequently saw a 20-something guy lifting large amounts of weights and often sporting OSU football gear--t-shirts, shorts--all worn (i.e. not crisp and new). He clearly knew what he was doing in terms of form and routine. He also had an OSU tattoo on his arm. A big tattoo on his big upper arm.
Assumption 1: he went there. And then I went on to assume that he had played football there. The second assumption was not as strong, admittedly. It was a jumping to conclusions kind of moment.
Well you know what happens when one makes assumptions...
I spoke with him briefly one evening (turns out he works at the gym too) and I asked him if he went to OSU. I was going to mention Tressel and the controversy (which was brewing even then) to show that I knew my collegiate football, but then was worried about offending him.
No--he did not go to OSU. He went to a local state school, but he was hoping to go OSU for his masters. But he's always been a fan and goes to the games. Though he doesn't seem to have a strong connection. Not an Ohio native. Not an alum.
Just a super fan from Massachusetts. Maybe the kind of fan who would buy a championship ring. Or maybe those t-shirts he was wearing weren't from the OSU online store...
In other words--fandom fueled this situation too. And it's impossible, at this point, to discern the chicken from the egg. It's a big, foggy cloud of desire and greed and ego and privilege and lack of privilege.
Anecdote 2: While what happened at OSU was pretty egregious--mostly in terms of all those blind eyes--it is certainly not isolated. When I was an undergrad at a school known for its hockey prowess (both men's and women's but I am speaking about the men's team here) there was some selling of gear too. Hockey sticks seemed to be the hot commodity. Players would sell them to students knowing they could get as many as they wanted for free from the athletic department. It's not a ring; they weren't receiving tattoos in return. But it's not really so different. Whether anyone knew about this--besides those of us who lived in the dorms with the players--I can't be sure. The scale of violations at OSU is certainly larger, which is why they got caught. But it this is not a situation limited to OSU or even Big Ten schools or even football.