Former Ohio State player and current captain of the St. Louis Rams defense James Laurinaitis offered his opinion former OSU head coach Jim Tressel and former QB Terrelle Pryor, who announced yesterday that he is leaving school. As you might expect, Laurinaitis has a relationship with Tressel, having played for his for four years.
The Rams middle linebacker didn't exactly let Tressel off the hook, acknowledging that he erred in now acknowledging that his players violated NCAA rules. It's treatment of Tressel from the chattering classes that gets him:
The fact that he's being vilified as some liar and backstabber and stuff. That guy is about as genuine a person as you can meet. I've seen him be a father figure to plenty of players ... To see him get portrayed as the ultimate fake guy is disheartening.
In watching this thing unfold as a (mostly) disinterested third party, I can't help but wonder if Tressel's issue isn't something that all so-called "players coaches" run the risk of. Everybody in college football knows the rules, just as they know where those rules bend thanks to the arcane nature of the NCAA system. Players get thousands of dollars in free stuff, coaches make millions while colleges and the entire system makes hundreds of millions off the sheer exploitation of student athletes. The NCAA is rotten through and through. For all the talk about stipend, I'm not sure that would do much to fix it. The top schools get the top players, for the most part, let the players get a free car or a trip out of it, but hold them to higher standards in the classroom and for conduct.
Moving on...Laurinaitis thinks that Terrelle Pryor's decision to leave school is a big mistake, for the reasons you might assume: missing the opportunity to deal positively with the adversity, to become a leader and solidify those questions about his draft stock.
Here's the link to Laurinaitis' appearance on Steve Wyche's podcast yesterday.