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Feeding frenzy in Columbus

Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - There is blood in the waters surrounding Ohio State and make no mistake, the sharks are circling.

It didn't really come as a huge surprise this week when head football coach Jim Tressel resigned from his position, although the pressure put on by an impending Sports Illustrated piece sped things up a bit.

Still, the writing was definitely on the wall for weeks, maybe even months, in the wake of a scandal involving players and their acceptance of improper benefits in return for memorabilia.

What wasn't quite clear though, was just how widespread the problem was and how long it had gone on.

Early in the investigative process, university officials stood by their man, including school president E. Gordon Gee and Athletic Director Gene Smith. Ohio State has systematically distanced itself over time and it may be difficult now to find the three in the same room together, culminating in Tressel's forced resignation.

"After meeting with university officials, we agreed that it is in the best interest of Ohio State that I resign as head football coach," Tressel said in a statement released by the school on Monday. "The appreciation that [wife] Ellen and I have for the Buckeye Nation is immeasurable."

So, was it in fact in the best interest of Ohio State that Tressel finally distanced himself from the university? Absolutely. Will it somehow ease the blow that is sure to come from the NCAA in the coming months? Absolutely not.

Jim Tressel posted a stellar 106-22 record, winning or sharing seven Big Ten titles.
In regard to football alone, Tressel has left his stamp on the Ohio State program for sure. Taking over in 2001, he posted a stellar 106-22 record, winning or sharing seven Big Ten titles, playing in three national title games and winning the whole thing in 2002.

However, that may not be what he is most remembered for when all is said and done.

Tressel was by all accounts a stand-up guy who preached about doing the right things on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

Talk is cheap though and he obviously didn't always follow his own advice.

Turning a blind eye to a problem doesn't solve anything and pleading ignorance only works for so long. This doesn't seem to be an isolated incident, as stories have surfaced as far back as Tressel's highly successful days at Youngstown State.

A ripple effect has already begun in Columbus, as new stories seem to surface on a daily basis. The latest is star quarterback Terrelle Pryor's affinity for nice cars.

Citing a source close to the investigation, Sports Illustrated has reported that Pryor may have had as many as eight cars in his three years at OSU. Despite watchful eyes, Pryor showed up to a players-only-meeting on Monday night driving a black Nissan 350Z with temporary tags.

Not necessarily a smoking gun, but certainly not the wisest of moves.

Already suspended for the first five games of 2011 as part of the tattoo scandal that started this whole ball rolling, Pryor will unlikely suit up and take the field again for the Buckeyes.

Where will Ohio State go from here?

Assistant Luke Fickell was already slated to serve as interim coach for the first five games of the season. That has now been extended to the entire 2011 campaign.

"We look forward to refocusing the football program on doing what we do best -- representing this extraordinary university and its values on the field, in the classroom, and in life," said athletic director Gene Smith in the school's release. "We look forward to supporting Luke Fickell in his role as our football coach. We have full confidence in his ability to lead our football program."

So it is set.

Fickell will be the top man on the sidelines in 2011 for the Buckeyes.

What kind of team he is able to piece together when the carnage finally ends, remains to be seen.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Scott Haynes at shaynes@sportsnetwork.com.

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