The Scarlet Effect
Today was supposed to begin “Non-AQ Week” at LTP, but based on the reverberation of the Jim Tressel resignation, I think we can all agree it makes sense to push Eastern Illinois previews in favor of how the new world order might look now that the sweatervest is getting tossed on top of the NCAA violation bonfire. Let’s get in to it…
The ripple effect of Jim Tressel’s resignation is now beginning to take shape. The Sports Illustrated feature investigation that is now available will likely go down in history as the domino that finally forced the resignation of Jim Tressel. Take 15 minutes and read it here. The article paints a picture that implicates Ohio State as an athletic program lacking institutional control which has become a euphemism for “they’re going to get hammered by the NCAA”. Tressel’s turn-the-other-cheek, senatorial, professorial pious image is now going to go down as the poster child for hypocrite. However, countless talk shows and media outlets will spend hours breaking all of this down. I’m hoping that today is the dawn of a new era. I’m hoping that finally some good can emerge from one of these scandals.
If you’re a Northwestern fan, days like today offer hope. No, it’s not a day to bask in the demise of a fellow Big Ten member’s demise. Rather, it is a day that we hope is one day closer to a more even playing field. Let’s face it, Northwestern is challenged every single day in football as we straddle the hypothetical ideals of a student-athlete experience while trying to compete with the “win at all costs” environment of major college football. The two seem fundamentally incongruous or to be even more cliche, diametrically opposed. On days like today I feel perhaps THIS will be the turning point that forced the NCAA and its member schools to finally get serious about the improprieties that are so rampant in collegiate athletics. Look no further than Auburn’s national title and the smoke surrounding Cam Newton’s one-and-done joke of an existence at the SEC national champion. Much like Ohio State, the SEC sat on vital information before putting the hot potato issues surrounding Cam Newton’s father back in the lap of Auburn. The sad thing is most fans don’t want to know either.
As a Wildcat fan we’re always cautious about projecting an elitist attitude as it is one of our barriers to new fan entry. We also know we’re not impervious to wrongdoing either. Heck, we had the most serious of ethical offenses – gambling/point shaving – within the past 20 years thanks to Dennis Lundy and several hoops players including Dewey Williams, Matt Purdy and Dion Lee. However, with Fitz at the helm, we feel pretty confident about things being done the right way. Any move towards really rewarding the combination of on field performance AND in class performance is the type of move we would all welcome.
The cynic in all of us knows that the wake of the Ohio State scandal will likely be some past wins being voided, a reduction of scholarships and little long term impact on Buckeye Nation. There will still be 20,000 scarlet-clad diehards packing Ryan Field in 2013 on their next visit as they look to continue their mastery over a Wildcat team that has managed to beat them just once – in 2004 – in my lifetime. You start to wonder how the heck we’re supposed to compete with this kind of a stacked deck where coddled superstar high school athletes are getting cars, money and other favors in an environment that preys on the same systemic way they were brought up. Meanwhile, we’re selling a long term investment of education in a short term, what have you done for me today culture. Perhaps tweeting about it will somehow make it different.
I feel a bit betrayed. I wanted to buy in to the sweatervest and the Tressel way. However, I feel like I just watched the Shawshank Redemption and learned of the pious head of the corrections facility who leveraged God as a cover-up for the fraud. I honestly believe the guy believed to his core that he was doing things the right way and that he had the best interest of his players at heart. However, his rationale devices became worped, cloaked in the “you can’t get in trouble for what you don’t know” philosophy. It’s a sad day for the Big Ten and college football in general.
I don’t care how much you dislike the competition. I don’t enjoy days like this or news like this. However, I’d rather we get it all out on the table so we can start inching towards the day when doing things the right way is rewarded. We can hope, right?
Forde’s Scarlet Letter on NU Hoops
Pat Forde of ESPN.com lets it rip on Northwestern basketball as the numero uno case of underachieving programs. Nothing new here and yes, we deserve it.
Oh By The Way, We Also Have The World’s Top-Ranked Golfer…
While Northwestern women’s lacrosse made Memorial Day Weekend waves with their fantastic national championship over Maryland, another Wildcat claimed the top sport in his respective sport. Luke Donald bested Lee Westwood in sudden death fashion at the European Tour’s marquee event – the BMW PGA at Wentworth - Click here for more details.