Jim Tressel resigns as Ohio State football coach
The momentum was just too much, the walls were closing in and not even Ohio State's administration could protect him any longer.
So on what should have been a quiet Memorial Day Monday, Ohio State's Jim Tressel announced his resignation as football coach, which is only the beginning to the end of the story.
"After meeting with university officials, we agreed that it is in the best interest of Ohio State that I resign as head football coach," Tressel said in a released statement. The appreciation that Ellen [Tressel's wife] and I have for the Buckeye Nation is immeasurable."
And so was the pain and anguish he caused the university in the last few months.
The football program has been awash in scandal since December, when it was revealed that several star players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, had violated NCAA rules by accepting extra benefits from a Columbus tattoo parlor. The players, however, were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl and had their five-game suspensions deferred to the 2011 season.
The scandal took its most serious turn when it was revealed that Tressel knew about the violations in advance but did not report them to his superiors. That is a violation of NCAA rules.
The school announced March 8 that Tressel would be suspended for two games, but that news conference was staged more as a pep rally in support of Tressel, who was 106-22 in 10 seasons and won the 2002 national title. He was also 9-1 against arch-rival Michigan.
Asked then if Tressel's job was in jeopardy, Ohio State President Gordon Gee said, "Are you kidding? I just hope the coach doesn't dismiss me."
Tressel, facing increasing national outrage, ultimately agreed to a five-game suspension, but even that couldn't stop the avalanche of allegations.
As late as two weeks ago, though, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith gave Tressel a vote of confidence at the Big Ten's annual spring meetings.
On Monday, Gee accepted Tressel's resignation.
"In consultation with the senior leadership of the Board of Trustees, I have been actively reviewing matters attendant to our football program, and I have accepted coach Tressel's resignation," Gee said in a statement. "The university's enduring public purposes and its tradition of excellence continue to guide our actions."
The school announced that assistant coach Luke Fickell will serve as interim head coach for the 2011-12 season. During that time, the school will search for a permanent successor for Tressel.
Some of the possibilities might include Ohio native and former Florida coach Urban Meyer, who led the Gators to two national titles before resigning last year. Former Tampa Bay coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops are also Ohio natives.
It remains to be seen what additional sanctions the school might receive from an ongoing NCAA investigation. Tressel had been scheduled to meet with NCAA officials in August.
-- Chris Dufresne
Photo: Jim Tressel. Credit: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images