Ohio State Football: The Media's Negative Bias Against the Buckeyes

Kyle WinklerContributor IIIMarch 6, 2012

It was about this time last year when Yahoo! Sports first reported that Jim Tressel had previously known about the violations that his players committed back in 2010 and then hid that information from his superiors.

What followed that report for the next year could only be described as a media circus.  

Every newspaper, radio station and television show focused on the potential Ohio State implosion. It was the lead story on every episode of SportsCenter. Every time you turned on a sports radio station, Ohio State football was the topic. It was on the front cover of multiple sports magazines and newspapers. They were even sued by ESPN over a public records request for Jim Tressel's e-mails. The Ohio State scandal had reached Tebow-mania or Jeremy Lin-sanity levels.  

It was the story that could not seem to go away.  

The media had every right to talk about the Ohio State scandal to the abundance that they did. It was a big story. A head coach who prided himself on doing things the right way had made a big mistake, and it ended up causing him to lose his job. It also happened to take place at one of the top college football programs in the nation.

If the media had not reported it as much as they did, then frankly they would not have been doing their jobs.  

The issue is not how much and for how long the media discussed the "Tattoo-Gate" story, but why other scandals involving other college football programs have not been given the same amount of attention.

Depending on whom you ask, players selling their own memorabilia for cash or tattoos may not be the end of the world. What the former Buckeye players did is not deemed illegal in a court of law. It was merely a violation of NCAA rules.  

Front cover of ESPN The Magazine
Front cover of ESPN The Magazine

Then the news broke on the Miami Hurricanes booster scandal. According to reports, a former booster potentially provided benefits to a number of players from 2002-2010 that included cash, prostitutes, jet skis and even an abortion. The former booster also stated that some of the coaches knew about the violations but did nothing about them.  

These allegations were jaw-dropping when they were first reported. It was shocking to hear some of the reports about how the former booster benefited some of the Miami football players.  

Not only were some of the stories sickening, they were also illegal. They did not only break NCAA rules, they broke the law. Fans from around the country were proposing a "death penalty" to be imposed on the Hurricanes football program, similar to the punishment handed to SMU in 1987.   

Until the NCAA completes its investigation at Miami, these allegations are just that: allegations. You would think, however, that the severity of these accusations would garner a bit more attention from the media than a coach withholding information about kids selling their jerseys and trophies.  

The Hurricanes booster scandal was the main topic for a couple weeks, but once the players on the current roster were dealt their suspensions, the story seemed to vanish.

Then in February of this year, stories started to pop up indicating a number of arrests were made during a drug bust that involved football players from TCU. The reports stated that 18 people were arrested, four of them being on the TCU football program, during a drug bust on and around the TCU campus. All of the people arrested had sold drugs to undercover police officers.  

Two of the football players who were arrested discussed a drug test given to the TCU football team in early February. One of the players stated that he was not worried about the drug test because there "would be about 60 people screwed." The other player stated that 82 players from the team had failed that same drug test; however, no punishments were assessed.  

These numbers have not been confirmed, but these are also severe allegations. Once again, these accusations of rampant drug dealing and usage within the football team violate both NCAA rules and the law; however, as quickly as the story was reported, it disappeared just as quickly.

Miami and TCU did not have reporters at their campuses appearing live on SportsCenter. They did not make the headlines for weeks on end. No billboards were made mocking the programs. So why did the Ohio State scandal receive all this negative treatment?  

You have to try to understand what the media was trying to do. Media outlets have to attract all the ears and eyeballs they can to their company.  

They had to ask themselves what would catch more people's attention: a highly-regarded coach that lied to his superiors while at the same time preaching to others to try to do the right thing or a couple of college kids selling marijuana.  

It does not matter what scandal may be the most severe, it only matters what story will attract the most viewers. The media over-hyped the Ohio State situation for that very reason.  

Tressel's reputation was the key to the equation that the media needed to cash in. A couple of college kids from TCU selling marijuana or a convicted felon's accusations on Miami's program did not have the same potential.  

Unfortunately for Ohio State, this is just the way the world works now.


You can follow me on Twitter @KyleWinklerOSU for Ohio State football information.