Maisel: Ohio State suspensions not equal

March, 18, 2011
3/18/11
1:30
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Colleague Ivan Maisel weighs in with a strong column on the Ohio State suspension situation.

[+] EnlargeJim Tressel
Jamie Sabau/Getty ImagesUnder the terms of his suspension, Jim Tressel will be able to prepare the Buckeyes for games during the week.
His main point: Although coach Jim Tressel increased his suspension to five games to be on par with what his players are receiving from the NCAA, the two punishments aren't equal.
The coaches surely won't have Pryor, Herron, et al, practice with the first team. They likely will practice for the first team. They will give the Buckeyes' starters a better look on Tuesday and Wednesday than they will see on Saturday. For those five weeks, Ohio State will field the most talented scout team in the nation. In fact, for the season opener, Vegas could make the Buckeyes' scout team a seven-point favorite over Akron. No one would blink.

But Tressel? He won't assign himself to coach the Ohio State scout team. He won't be pushed to the side for the people who will coach on Saturday. Tressel will participate in the game plan. He will participate in the preparation of the Buckeyes. He will do what he is paid very handsomely to do.

"If someone told me I had to miss 'the game' or could have the whole week to prepare," an FBS head coach told me Thursday night, "what would help the team win? Obviously, me being there the whole week. Our job is during the week. That's when we're winning and losing games."

I've had coaches tell me that they're most relaxed on Saturdays because they know all the prep work is behind them. Teams often play how they practice, and Tressel, at least under the current terms of his suspension, still can shape the team on the practice field.

Maisel points out that Tressel's in-game adjustments have value. The Vest also has a presence in the game-day locker room, one that paid dividends during games like this past season's against Penn State, when Ohio State rallied for a 38-14 win after a sluggish first half. Tressel was animated in the halftime locker room and the team responded positively.

But on the whole, the players have a stiffer penalty to serve.
In a career that lasts about 50 games, a five-game suspension means surrendering 10 percent of it. The five players will spend five weeks unable to fulfill the passion that has driven them to make the significant commitment that college football demands.
Tressel's suspension is the same in length only. He will continue to fulfill his passion during the week, when the real coaching is done. Missing the games will hurt. And it is certainly possible that it will take its toll on the Buckeyes. But Tressel's five-game suspension is nowhere near as strong as the one handed to his players. If the NCAA wants to make his as strong, it will ban him from his office for five weeks, not just five Saturdays.

That certainly would sting for Tressel and an Ohio State team facing some significant distractions this coming season.

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