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Who’s the Kid Here?

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There were plenty of “I’m taking my talents to South Beach” lines from the Gundy/Bobby Reid incident but “who’s the kid here?” is by far my favorite. I use it in conversations with my wife, in my writing, and in degrading emails to Q, Nolo, and Freemason10. It’s versatility is unparalleled and I’m going to the well again, this time up north in Columbus…

The trials and tribulations of one Mr. Sleeveless Sweater himself are well documented by now, to the point that ESPN has shown more camo gear (what tOSU wore for their spring game) in the last two than Fox News has in the entire 2011 calendar year.

It’s nauseating really, the tattoos, the emails, the non-disclosure of information. And I don’t mean nauseating in an “I can’t believe what he did!” kind of way, but nauseating in that dodging the lightning bolts levied by the NCAA has become in and of itself an intercollegiate athletic endeavor.

We, as OSU fans, are (or should be) seasoned by now in googling phrases such as “NCAA by-laws”. And as such we know that they are vast and yet incomprehensibly complex in nature. We are also well-versed in the golden rule of the NCAA infractions committee: when asked about the past, always tell the truth.

Jim Tressel’s fatality as a wunderkind coach beyond reproach is not found in his covering up the misdeeds of Terrelle Pryor and Co. It was that he believed, as so many do, that he was above it all, that the rules (just this once) might not apply to he and his band of Buckeyes.

The real tragedy of it all is that we, the public, continue to believe the myth of purity that is the amateur sport. We think “this one guy” or “that singular program” are out of reach when it comes to immorality or questionably ethical conduct. And time after time, postseason ban after postseason ban, we are proven wrong.

And yet we keep buying in.

Jim Tressel, just like Dez Bryant, did not ask you to believe in his moral upstandingness or faithful adherence to the letter of the law. Oh he did indirectly by selling books with pious titles and fairytale stories, but he never went to you and said, “make me your god, I’ll never let you down.”

But that’s exactly what we do.

We put these programs and coaches and players and administrators in a bubble somewhere in the upper echelon of our minds and besmirch them when they come tumbling down like the humans they are.

We think Jim Tressel is above it all, we think the whiteout at Penn State is above it all, we think Brad Stevens is pure as the driven snow, we think Coach K would never do that, we think Lane Kiffin is a saint, we think Mark Richt runs the cleanest program in the country, we think Roy Williams has never cheated, and mostly, above everything else, we think Oklahoma State is the most untainted, clean-cut institution in the United States.

We think that mostly because we’re biased and partly because we went there and maybe just a little bit because we want to believe it’s the reason we can’t seem to beat Texas or OU.

I can tell you this: there’s not a program in the country that’s evading every single minuscule land mine Mark Emmert holds the trigger button for, OSU included.

So instead of deitizing (to invent a word) these men and universities, how about we just accept the fact that they’re all imperfect entities operating in a relatively broken system? Most of us (all of us) lead pretty miry lives in a mostly messed up world and then have the stones to turn around and hold hostage the people and schools we claim to love because they committed infractions we ourselves “would never commit.”

And Again I ask: who’s the kid here?

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