Commentary

Jim Tressel's resignation inevitable

Updated: May 31, 2011, 12:36 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

I don't think Jim Tressel's resignation is shocking at all. Let's face reality: This had to happen.

There was no way Tressel was going to survive and coach the Buckeyes this season as the situation turned into a continuing soap opera. Every day in the newspaper and throughout the media, this scenario was dividing Buckeye nation. Some fans were in the Tressel corner, while others felt he had to go. I even saw it here in Sarasota, Florida, where a lot of Ohio State fans and boosters vacation in the winter.

[+] EnlargeJim Tressel
Greg Bartram/US PresswireOhio State coach Jim Tressel resigned Monday after 10 seasons in Columbus. He led the Buckeyes to 10 or more wins in six consecutive seasons.

Tressel won big at Ohio State. His resume included eight BCS bowls in 10 years, a 106-22 overall record and a national championship. And off the field, Tressel had a clean reputation. He even wrote books about integrity.

It came down to the simple fact that this whole situation snowballed. Tressel tried to protect his players instead of going to the proper authorities and the right people within the University. When he learned of issues, he tried to work with the people involved instead of talking with his compliance staff or administrators. It all spelled trouble.

You can't mess with integrity. You will always lose.

Now Tressel joins a club with Kelvin Sampson and Bruce Pearl: talented guys who knew how to win but tried to get an edge by going a step above the rules. Sampson had a good situation at Indiana, but he made too many impermissible phone calls. Pearl had a barbecue at his house with a couple of recruits and then lied to the NCAA about it.

A coach cannot survive in these situations with the incredible public scrutiny out there today. Once the stories came out in Columbus, involving memorabilia being exchanged for tattoos, it was going to get ugly. Now stories involving a car dealership are emerging, and further investigations are underway.

Nothing has been proven yet, but the NCAA is still investigating. Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith is under his own scrutiny, and now he is in a tough situation.

I also have to ask why several players were allowed to participate in a bowl game last season, when they probably should have been declared ineligible. I will tell you why: This is all about wanting to win, baby!

Now the question is, who will run the program in 2012? One name that will be mentioned is ESPN's own Urban Meyer, who is from the state of Ohio and has a proven track record in coaching. I know he has said he will be in TV this season, but he has left the door open for the future. A lot could depend on potential sanctions from the NCAA.

For now, Tressel is away from the Ohio State sidelines, and the program has a long road ahead. Time will tell how much damage is done, though the Tressel legacy has certainly been tarnished.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.