How the mighty fall, and fall, and fall

“This is not a good day for college football, but it’s a necessary day,” said Brent Musburger of ESPN College Football on ESPN this morning, “I am afraid that once again someone forgot to study the lesson that we should have learned when Richard Nixon left office. The cover up is always worse than a petty crime like this.”

Today, Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel resigned after NCAA sanctions have paralyzed the school’s once thriving program.

Musburger is right. I’ve heard it so many times in my PR classes. People are more likely to forgive a brand that takes responsibility for its actions than one that tries to cover something up. Someone who makes a mistake and apologizes is forgiven and forgotten (or remembered in a positive way). Someone who makes a mistake and lies about it is always found out and always remembered as one who can’t be trusted.

“I think Ohio State is one of the best brands in college football; they will get past this but it may take them a few years,” Musburger comments.

I’d like to say I think the NCAA crackdown in a good thing. It seems in recent years, there is not much separating college and professional sports. Who is really at fault in most of these situations? The school for offering benefits or the athlete for taking them? Well, the answer is both. But the real question is, who suffers the long-term consequences? The school does. If the player is worth the rewards (not to say I’m condoning this), they’ll probably go pro. And did giving back the Heisman really hurt Reggie Bush’s career? No. After it’s over and done, professional teams don’t care if an athlete did shady things. But the school is punished for seasons to come. It will take years to recuperate from the damage a sanction can cause.

So is Tressel resigning a good thing? Well, it’s too late for him to reconcile is damaged image, but yes. it shows the world of professional sports, a school can just about loose all the merit its got at the drop of a hat.

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