Insert one Legends and Leaders joke here if you have any new ones left. Please, let’s all gather around the campfire and tell stories about those legendary Midwest values, I just can’t get enough of that shit. Just when you thought it was all about the almighty dollar, we find out that there are other things that matter to those individuals so completely and utterly devoid of a human soul–that other thing being, it turns out, the stealing of said souls from society’s most trusting and vulnerable members. Time to close out the offshore accounts Jimmy “Shawshank-style” and get while the gettin’ is good because your “Legends” and “Leaders” are determined to sink the B1G Ten’s battleship (or perhaps, it was only a pt boat all along).
To say it’s been a rough eighteen months for the B1G Ten is a little like saying Hitler did a few mean things. While the four letter network had us convinced that Brutus was the devil reincarnate, it would now certainly appear that the B1G was just getting warmed up– and oh boy, the main course would be a doosie. While all the details at State college are just becoming public knowledge, we can expect more rumors like the latest bombshell dropped just today–that Jerry Sandusky’s foundation for at risk children was actually pimping them out, and that, Penn State forced him to retire in 1999 in exchange for a cover-up of this story. Here’s to guessing phones are ringing simultaneously at both the Federal Bureau of Investigations and National Collegiate Association Headquarters and that some of the B1G’s “legends” and “leaders” are headed for their own version of the Witness Relocation Program.
But perhaps we shouldn’t start reading the last pages of the novel and start the story from the beginning.
It all started innocently enough in May of 2010 with perhaps the most storied of all the B1G programs getting put on probation for what became known as “stretch gate.” We all (at least those of us outside of the hot dog water beltway) got a good chuckle out of Richie’s program being placed on probation for, of all things, practicing too much. I mean, we’d been laughing at his 2-2-6 defense (yes I’m aware that only equals ten) and his West Virginia accent for months, so what was a little probation for a 4-8 football team anyway? And at any rate, since we know the Universities are really about big time college football anyway, who cares if the players’ practice time takes away from their studies? Since when has a “B” in anatomy ever been worth more than a two yard touchdown scamper anyway? Everyone had a good chuckle–the NCAA slapped Michigan on the wrist and business continued as usual (and by that, I mean, Michigan continued to lose football games but continued to rake in the dough NCAA style).
While this shot may be from a Hawkeye press conference, it wasn’t after 13 kids were hospitalized following strenuous off season workouts. According to Iowa officials, Ferentz was “busy” on the road recruiting.
And Kirk Ferentz got the message–full steam ahead captain. When 13 Iowa football players collapsed from kidney ailments as a result off-season workouts in January of 2011, Iowa [Head] Coach Kirk Ferentz was kept from the media while details of the grueling workouts were slowly being released. Two of the hospitalized players — defensive players Shane DiBona of Duxbury, Mass., and Jordan Bernstine of Des Moines — indicated through social media that workouts were extreme. DiBona outlined a weight-lifting drill with a post on Facebook: “I had to squat 240 pounds 100 times and it was timed. I can’t walk and I fell down the stairs.” Bernstine also wrote about the Jan. 20 workout: “Hands Down the hardest workout I’ve ever had in my life!”
As the Sporting news put it: “[w]hat the school could and did say on Tuesday — well after the players were first hospitalized — was that Ferentz was on the road recruiting and not available for comment. And for most of the day Wednesday, Ferentz was still absent. Think about that. Ferentz is talking with parents of a high school player he desperately needs. While Johnny Superstar sees everything black and gold and has the Power Hawk gleam in his eye, his mother had to have asked Ferentz–‘Why are you not with your injured players? And what if my little Johnny were one of the 13?'”” Ferentz had no time for such pesky matters, as his Hawkeyes were just a tad bit shorthanded.
In December of 2010, already suspended Iowa football player Adam Robinson was cited by Iowa State patrol for possession of marijuana and would later be kicked off the team. But Adams wasn’t the only one–star wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos was charged with possession of cocaine, marijuana, and prescription drugs, and it wasbelieved that as many as 11 Hawkeyes players were involved in drug trafficking. Star running back Jewel Hampton, on the heels of these allegations, transferred to play ball elsewhere. Three of the players were immediately reinstated without missing so much as a single practice, while criminal charges remained unresolved. For reasons that aren’t clear to this blogger, the Iowa football program received very little scrutiny despite two serious scandals rocking the program within a matter of months.
But then, perhaps, college football fans were distracted with the details of the sordid affair that was being revealed in Columbus. Also in December, as many of us were getting ready to open Christmas gifts (Buckeye fans got a “special present” from the University), we learned that five Ohio State football players sold some of their memorabilia for discounts on tattoos and various other freebies. While the players would initially be suspended for five games, the NCAA reinstated the players ahead of the Sugar Bowl, probably to avoid alienating sponsors that paid big money for Buckeyes star power, and The Ohio State University was all too willing to go along with it. But by late February and early March of 2011, details were coming out that saintly Jim Tressel had been tipped off about the possible NCAA violations by a Columbus lawyer, possibly as early as April of 2010. As the details of the tat-5 scandal developed, Tressel claimed that he feared for the safety of his players (the tattoo artist Edward Rife who provided the tattoos in exchange for Buckeye merchandise was involved in drug trafficking and has since been sentenced to 3 years in prison) and thus, reported this violation to no one (or so we have been told). Most assumed that he did this because his preseason second ranked Buckeyes were primed for a national championship run, one that but for two bad quarters in Madison, was nearly a reality. When the pressure became too much, Ohio State President Gordon Gee and athletic Director Gene Smith, after initially backing Tressel in a comedic press conference, forced him to resign in shame. Despite subsequent allegations regarding boosters providing Ohio State players money at charity events and for work that was not completed, and a new failure to monitor charge, there is still no word that Ohio State intends to part ways with either sneaky Gene or Orville Redenbacher.
What would the B1G do for an encore you ask?
Well of course it would have to involve the 84 year old JoePa and the previously pristine Penn State University (one of only a few FBS schools never hit with a major NCAA violation) with allegations that as many as nine kids were sodomized by a long time assistant and friend, Jerry Sandusky, with at least one of the incidents occurring on campus and witnessed by a grad student who is now an assistant coach in Happy Valley. I won’t discuss the absolutely stomach churning details here, but instead, suggest you read the details for yourself here if you have the intestinal fortitude for such revolting acts. It matters little to me, or anyone else who has angrily penned a piece about this story, whether JoePa fulfilled his obligation under Penn State protocol or not–any decent human being would have picked up the phone and called the police at the mere mention of credible details that suggested that a ten year old child might have been sexually abused on his or her watch. And while Penn State did the right thing and fired JoePa yesterday, this comes under the label too little too late–If JoePa’s testimony is to be believed, he told other higher ranking officials at Penn State about the allegation who chose to do nothing about it, a complete institutional failure. And if the latest rumors are true, and mind you they are just rumors at this point, that Sandusky was pimping kids out and that he was forced out at Penn State in exchange for a coverup (once believed to be the next head coach at Penn State, Sandusky suddenly retired at the ripe old age of 55), then indeed we have once again seen the dark underbelly of human nature compromised by an elixir– equal parts money, equal parts ego run amok. As I write this, Penn State has no plans to fire the assistant coach who witnessed Sandusky sodomizing a boy of about 10 years of age in the shower of the Penn State practice facility. Regardless of the ultimate resolution, this is a stain Penn State and the B1G Ten will not live down any time soon.
So, was Ferentz acting like a “legend” or a “leader” when he hit the recruiting trail while 13 kids were laid up in the hospital with kidney infections from grueling off season workouts he engineered (and lest you think these were voluntary workouts that the kids came up with on their own, remember, it was 13 of them that were felled with this rare kidney infection)? Or which of the monikers best characterizes Jim Tressel, who taught his kids that consequences shouldn’t matter when he buried NCAA violations so his kids could compete for a championship (here’s to guessing JT’s story wasn’t the inspiration for values.com’s cornball sportsmanship commercial)? And is it possible that JoePa is both a “Legend” and a “Leader” when he took details of a possible child molest to the Penn State administration but did nothing else, which would ultimately culminate in more kids getting allegedly molested by Sandusky (hey JoePa, lest you still believe your own bullshit, is this what you would have done if the alleged victims were your grandchildren? Sorry to personalize this, but you can guess that these kids were in fact someone’s grandchildren)?
Even before all of this nonsense, if that is even the right word, anyone with an ego that would fit through most doorways knew that divisions named “Legends” and “Leaders” were an absolute joke (I mean, Woody’s name along with his former assistant coach’s name appear on the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year trophy despite the fact that Woody was fired for punching a player during a play in a bowl game). But after these last eighteen months, no one is laughing any more.
Categories: College Football