There has always been a cloudy circle of lack of knowledge surrounding the NCAA, particularly the enforcement and investigation areas. Just who are these people that swoop into town, investigate, and interview a coach and/or player who has undoubtedly done something incredibly stupid? How did they find out about that stupidity? How many months or years are we going to have to wait to find out what they found out? And, when we do find out, what kind of punishment should be expected and how did they come to that decision?
We'll probably never fully know the answers to all of these questions, partly because the fear of the unknown provides the NCAA with a sense of power of which it will never want to surrender, but one thing is one billion percent certain with the NCAA: DO. NOT. LIE. TO. THEM. EVER. SERIOUSLY. JUST. DON'T. They do not handle being lied to very well. Recall Dez Bryant, who lied about a lunch with and visit to Deion Sanders' house and was then declared ineligible for the remainder of the season, which ended his Oklahoma State career. More recently than that, there's the USC and Reggie Bush case. And now, we have Jim Tressel, who found out lying, admitting his lie only when caught, and then getting caught in another lie of sorts by not revealing there was even more going on with players and benefits than previously discovered, will temporarily end a career in major college football, ruin a reputation, and bring shame on something much larger than himself.
When a scandal breaks, whether in sports, politics, entertainment or whatever, there is only one option for the person or persons involved that will not end in total disaster (and whenever a PR person does not follow this plan, you know they are even MORE moronic than your standard PR person). Once caught, admit every wrong that was committed (uncovered or not), apologize, show remorse, and vow to correct the situation as best as possible. That's it. Of course, there will be consequences, as no one gets away totally free (exception so far: Auburn; HEYOOOOHHH!!!), but Americans are a pretty forgiving people. The offending person or persons must toil in the wilderness for a period of time, but in time, all will be forgotten and a fresh start will be offered.
If this plan is not followed, much wailing, gnashing of teeth, and loss of jobs and/or careers is sure to occur. Over the past half year, Ohio State and Jim Tressel discovered this truth they should have known, or perhaps thought they could get around. The mess they created isn't about them getting caught or even cheating. It's that they were dumb enough to lie and attempt to hide information. The history of NCAA enforcement and investigation, while highly unpredictable and inconsistent, is littered with the bodies of those who chose to lie. To think one could avoid such an end for himself or school is to think like an idiot, and there are always harsh consequences for idiots who shouldn't be idiots. However, the good news for Tressel and Ohio State is that, given the NCAA's inconsistency, Tressel should still be eligible to coach in next season's Sugar Bowl.