Bill Plaschke: Jim Tressel’s suspension a good move by the NFL


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Jim Tressel ran, but he could not hide.

The shamed former Ohio State football coach, whose lying and cheating endangered the future of the Buckeye program and cost him his job a few months ago, resurfaced last week as a replay consultant with the Indianapolis Colts.

But then, rather appropriately, instant replay benched him.

Upon further review, this was a coach using the NFL as a safe haven from NCAA prosecution when his players could not do the same thing. How could Tressel begin his NFL career without penalty when former Buckeye and current Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor had been forced by the NFL to serve the same five-game suspension that was handed him by the NCAA?


The answer is, Tressel couldn’t, and won’t, and has agreed to serve a six-game suspension, which amounts to Pryor’s five games plus one. The Colts claim it was Tressel’s idea, but clearly it was the NFL’s nudge; the league decided that when it comes to NCAA scofflaws, it will no longer be akin to a small Caribbean island or obscure European kingdom or any place else where bad guys usually run to hide.

Said Colts Vice Chairman Bill Polian in a statement: ‘Questions were raised with respect to the equity of his appointment as opposed to suspensions being served this season by present and former Ohio State players.’ Said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello in an email to the Associated Press: ‘The team fully understood the issues and committed to addressing them ... we believe it is appropriate.’

Good for the NFL, which is simply protecting its relationship with the NCAA and its image as a sport that respects the rules.

Bad for guys like Tressel, one of the many coaches who ignore his players’ infractions and then skip town when they are caught.

While some critics have complained that this country’s most powerful sports operation is foolish to align itself with this country’s most dysfunctional sports operation, this is not about the NFL pandering to the NCAA. This is about the NFL protecting the NFL.

The league is doing this for the same reason is has never allowed entry to players who have not completed their junior year of college eligibility. It wants to be a destination, not a refuge. It wants new employees moving toward their best, not running from their worst.

The only problem with the league’s new unwritten edict is that should have been in place years ago. One year ago, to be exact, just in time to keep Pete Carroll from jumping off the USC deck moments before that Trojan ship sank in flames.

Reggie Bush was gone long before the NCAA reached its verdict last spring, but Carroll’s first season with the Seattle Seahawks had not yet started, and he should have been forced to endure at least half of what Trojan fans have endured.

The league should have suspended him for a year. He was lucky to escape. Lucky for the rest of us, he will be the last one.


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-- Bill Plaschke