Ohio State Football: Jim Tressel Could Lessen NCAA's Blow by Stepping Down Now

Grant FrekingCorrespondent IApril 26, 2011

IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 20:  Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel looks on from the sidelines during first half action against the University of Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Iowa City, Iowa. Ohio State won 20-17 over Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
David Purdy/Getty Images

First, a recap of a few of the ramifications for the 2011 season:

Coach Jim Tressel, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Heron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, left tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Soloman Thomas are suspended for the first five games of the season.

Here's what the first five games on Ohio State's schedule looks like:

1. Home game against Akron

2. Home game against Toledo

3. Road game against Miami, Fla.

4. Home game against Colorado

5. Home game against Michigan State.

The players' suspensions won't be extended. Tressel's can and likely will. More on that in a second.

ESPN's Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg made an astute point yesterday in terms of the timing of all of this:

"The timetable going forward is interesting. Ohio State has until July 5 to respond and is scheduled to appear before the Committee on Infractions at its Aug. 12 meeting in Indianapolis. 

To give you a sense of how these things go, Michigan officials met with the Committee around the same time last August but didn't receive a ruling until early November. If the same timetable holds, Tressel will be back on the sideline after his self-imposed five-game suspension when the verdict comes down. 

It will be interesting to see what type of defense Ohio State provides in August. As valuable as Tressel has been to the program, Ohio State must protect its brand from potentially crippling sanctions. Tressel, meanwhile, will have to be in full senatorial form to convince the committee members he shouldn't be hammered."

Let's make a few points clear before going back to Tressel:

1. Ohio State is accused by the NCAA of playing with ineligible players last season. Thus, kiss the 2010 season goodbye. Whether vacated wins is an actually meaningful punishment is a conversation for another day.

2. OSU could be faced with a "repeat violator" charge thanks to the Troy Smith and Jim O'Brien improper benefits cases. According to the Columbus Dispatch, if OSU is determined to be a repeat violator, they could be subject to more severe penalties such as a postseason ban, coaching staff suspensions and scholarship losses.

3. The NCAA did not cite OSU for "failure to monitor" or "failure of institutional control," which could lead to harsh penalties since those citations indicate a school has a weak compliance department.

Tressel lied, lied and lied during his Nixon-esque cover-up. He's going to face the music come August. Unless any new information comes out, it appears OSU is sticking by their Vest.

Athletics director Gene Smith and school president E. Gordon Gee have given Tressel their support. Tressel has said he won't resign.

The odds are stacked against Tressel. The NCAA has a grand opportunity to shed their reputation for feebleness. Tressel could save himself and the university further embarrassment and punishment by resigning before the season starts. It's possible such a move could soften the NCAA's punishment of OSU.

If Tressel departs, expect interim coach Luke Fickell to be named head coach for the remainder of the season and for OSU to conduct a national search following the 2011 season.