Tonight’s disclosure about Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel is disappointing news, indeed, for Ohio State fans. Tressel failed to promptly report information about potential NCAA violations to institutional officials. As a result, Ohio State has self-reported an NCAA violation, has suspended Coach Tressel for two games, has fined him $250,000, and will issue a public reprimand and require Coach Tressel to make a public apology. The NCAA, of course, may impose additional sanctions or require additional actions.
I’ve read the Ohio State letter self-reporting the violations and listened to parts of tonight’s press conference about the matter, in which OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith, Coach Tressel, and OSU President E. Gordon Gee spoke. I have some questions about what happened, but I’d prefer to reserve judgment until more information comes out. I think a big part of the puzzle will be the e-mails between Coach Tressel and the attorney who advised Tressel of the potential NCAA violations — and who apparently requested confidentiality because the information was obtained in the context of a federal drug trafficking investigation. How were the e-mails phrased? Did their contents reasonably suggest that Coach Tressel should be concerned about the safety of the unnamed players who allegedly were involved?
Sometimes I think we expect public figures — and in Ohio, the head football coach at Ohio State obviously is a public figure — to make snap judgments that stand up to the most rigorous 20-20 hindsight examination. In life, it rarely works out that way. For all of Ohio State’s focus on NCAA rules compliance, I doubt that Coach Tressel or anyone else has received training on what to do if they receive an email from an attorney reporting on potential rules violation information obtained during a federal criminal investigation, when the attorney requests strict confidentiality. Let’s at least wait until more information becomes available before we reach ultimate conclusions on the propriety of Coach Tressel’s conduct.
If you’ve watched a basketball game on TV lately — particularly on the Big Ten Network — you’ve seen the commercials for the 5-hour Energy product. It’s an energy drink that comes in a little bottle that features the silhouette of a guy sprinting over rocks on the label.
There are three ads. One features a frumpy woman who needs help getting up for her morning workout; she decides to skip coffee, slugs down some 5-hour Energy instead, and next we see her, well-coiffed and in a perky workout outfit, smiling as she strides on the treadmill. Another shows a guy with bed head who hates mornings and has only 20 minutes to get ready for work. Coffee would take too long so he reaches in the cupboard, takes a drink of 5-hour Energy, smacks his lips, and shortly is jogging down the stairs, straightening his tie and ready to kick ass at work.
Our favorite commercial begins with the perils of coffee drinking. Coffee takes so long and is such a pain! A glum guy spoons grounds into a coffee pot. Arrgh! An executive fumbles with his coffee cup and papers as he leaves his house. I hate it when that happens! An incredibly antsy woman, neck veins popping, looks at her watch and audibly sighs as she waits impatiently in line at a coffee shop. (Seriously, does this woman really need more energy? She already looks totally amped and ready to take a swing at the next person who hesitates in giving their coffee order. After she gets some caffeine she probably charges out the door and bites the head off a chicken.) And then we cut to the relaxed guy in his kitchen. He eschews the horrors of the coffee grind. Instead he takes a little sip of the product, nods with satisfaction, looks at his watch, sits back down, puts his foot on the kitchen table, and leisurely reads his paper. It makes you wonder why he didn’t have time to make coffee in the first place.
The commercials suggest that the product works instantaneously. This concerns me. I’m not sure my aging system can handle a substance that provides energy faster than an injection of liquid adrenalin. The idea of taking a swig from a tiny bottle of room temperature liquid doesn’t have much appeal, either. I’m not interested in sprinting over rocks, and I really don’t want to find out what happens when that five-hour burst comes to an end. I therefore conclude that I am not in the target market for this product. I just wish I could avoid their commercials.