Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sports Illustrated and the SEC

Here is an interesting quote from this article on Jim Tressel's crooked dealings at Ohio State:

"Columbus may be north of the Mason-Dixon Line, and Ohio State may be a Big Ten school, but the manner in which the city's inhabitants seek to associate with members of the football team is seen more often in Southeastern Conference towns such as Tuscaloosa and Knoxville."

OK, so let me get this straight. Jim Tressel's career is over at Ohio State because, according to Sports Illustrated, for almost ten years he presided over a program that was just incredibly corrupt. This article shows that Maurice Clarett -- the star of Ohio State's 2002 national championship team -- told ESPN that OSU coaches had put him in contact with boosters who gave him thousands of dollars. It shows that NCAA investigators are looking into the use of cars by several current Buckeyes. It shows that back in 2004, an OSU boasted that he "owned" the OSU quarterback because of payments he had made to him. It cites allegations that at least since 2002, OSU players have been trading their memorabilia for cash.

Now if all of this is true -- or even if only half of it is true -- the Ohio State football program is one of the most corrupt in the history of college sports. For almost 10 years -- years during which ESPN repeatedly told us about the "class" and "dignity" of Jim Tressel -- these guys were paying players, engaging in cover ups, and generally behaving in a despicable manner. And this cheating had major consequences for the history of college football. OSU's cheaters won the 2002 national championship. OSU's cheaters played for the national championship in the 2005 and 2006 seasons. OSU's cheaters won the Rose Bowl after the 2009 season and the Sugar Bowl after the 2010 season. Who knows how many honest teams they beat to qualify for these games? Who can say what other teams might have bowl victories and titles if OSU hadn't been cheating on such a massive scale?

Of course, we all know that OSU lost the national titles in 2005 and 2006 to SEC teams. And that the response of OSU fans -- and even the President of the Big 10 -- was to imply that SEC schools were somehow cheating. But now it turns out that the real cheaters were in Columbus. Indeed, the two most successful non-SEC programs of the last decade -- Ohio State and Southern California -- have both imploded under massive cheating scandals.

Based on this evidence, everyone owes the SEC an apology. Auburn went undefeated in 2004, but they didn't get to play for the national title because their slot was taken by the cheaters at USC. Both Florida in 2005, and LSU in 2006, were forced to play for the national title against the cheaters from OSU. Arkansas lost the 2010 Sugar Bowl to the OSU cheaters.

But will we SEC fans get such an apology? Of course not. Instead, SI uses the very article in which it lays out the allegations against Tressel to imply that what went on in Columbus goes on at every SEC school.

No wonder people in the South don't like the national media.

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