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Phillip's blog: Coverups and lies

Politicians of all persuasions, over the years, have learned the lesson the hard way. So have coaches and athletes. Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and former quarterback Terrelle Pryor aren’t unique. They’re just the latest on a long, sorry list.

Senior Editor Phillip Marshall

People, powerful and otherwise, mess up and do things they shouldn’t do. For those in the public eye, the acts usually aren’t what cause the biggest problems. It’s the panicked coverups and lies that follow.

Once informed about what some of his players were doing, if Tressel had passed the information on to his superiors, it would have created a short-term storm of controversy. Ohio State might have had to vacate wins or suspend players. But Tressel would still be the coach and Ohio State wouldn’t be the latest poster child for our-of-control college football programs.

Instead, Tressel and Pryor, exposed and disgraced, are gone from Ohio State. Former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl, who also decided it was better to lie than face the consequences of his own actions, is gone, too. At both schools, others have been left to clean up the mess.

When people can look into cameras, seemingly speaking from their hearts, and lie without blinking an eye, you have to wonder what else they have lied about. And you wonder how otherwise intelligent people could be stupid enough to believe the truth won’t come out.

More than ever, there are prying eyes everywhere – from the NCAA, from the media, from opponents. It usually doesn’t take long, as it didn’t in Ohio State’s case. And that should tell you something about the complete lack of evidence that Auburn’s Cam Newton did anything wrong. If it had been there, it would have been found.

In Tressel’s case, you wonder why, considering the sleaze that followed him around at Youngstown State and Ohio State, he ever had the reputation of an honest, straight shooter in the first place. When ESPN analyst and former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit said Tressel was brought down because he cared so much for his players, I laughed out loud. He particularly cared, it would seem, for those who could help him win championships.

In Pryor’s case, it seems patently obvious that he has been trading on his celebrity status as the Ohio State quarterback almost since he arrived in Columbus. At least, now, he can stonewall the NCAA. I suspect that had a lot to do with his departure.

It’s never pleasant to watch when a young man like Pryor, who could have been such a positive influence on so many, or a coaching icon like Tressel throws it away. But you’ll have to forgive folks for chuckling just a little that it’s happening in the Big Ten, which has for so long told the world it was morally better than the likes of the SEC.

Pryor might go on to have a great career in the NFL. Tressel can sit at home and count his millions. But both will be remembered, not for the games won or made, but as liars and cheats who brought down a proud football program.

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