I look forward to putting up the first Arkansas football trivia question of the summer come tomorrow in order to help us, in a small way, get through the toughest months for college football fans, June and July. Some ninety, long, hot days to go until the kickoff of the 2011 season. But like this time last year, there really has not been a shortage of college football news in the headlines, namely the unfolding saga going on in Columbus, Ohio.
The resignation / firing of Jim Tressel kicked off the summer on the traditional day of kicking off the summer, Memorial Day. Tressel is history at Ohio State and Terrelle Pryoris likely gone as well. Addition by substraction, it sounds like to me. Will it be a summer of continuing Ohio Scandal State news? Could be. Hey, it wouldn't surprise me to find out that Terrelle Pryor had sold one of Tressel's vests to Osama Bin Laden, and it was hanging in his closet when Seal Team Six landed there a few weeks ago, haha.
But what of the Arkansas angle in all this? Well, we do become the answer to the question of what was the last team Jim Tressel coached against at Ohio State. Some young Buckeye decades from now will have to drink a shot at a tailgate because he couldn't come up with "Arkansas" while his buddy remembered that "Clemson" was the last school Woody Hayes coached against before getting tossed for punching a player.
As an Arkansas fan, I feel like I've been punched several times since it was announced that Ohio State would be our opponent in the Sugar Bowl. First, the NCAA made its notorious decision to delay the punishment for the Tat-Five, so they could play in the bowl game. Would that likely have happened if the Tat-Five had been Arkansas players? Not likely. Second, there was the gut wrenching loss that the Hogs sustained in the game itself. Third, that one of the Tat-Five should have caught the interception that ended the game. Body blow! Fourth, it turns out that Tressel was just an outright liar when before the bowl game he acted surprised that his players had been selling and trading their memorabilia.
He had an opportunity to play the Sugar Bowl on an even field by suspending those players and himself for the actions they all took, but he refused to let the game be played as eligible players vs. eligible players. With an obvious lack of comprehension of how nothing is ever lost on a computer's hard-drive, he thought he could get away with his coverup and went ahead and coached a game he should not have been eligible to coach himself.
The last reason is why I think Arkansas has a good case for the Sugar Bowl being vacated in the record books. The Tat-Five got their permission to play in the game, but if the NCAA knew at the time that the coach on the sidelines had lied to them about player eligibility, I doubt even they would have given their blessing for Tressel to coach the game. And I doubt the Sugar Bowl reps would have wanted a confessed cheater coaching on the sidelines either. That probably would have been even too much for them, though I admit I don't know the Sugar Bowl aristocracy personally.
Nixon tapped himself out of office, and Tressel apparently didn't understand that "delete" doesn't really mean "delete" these days. And we can't ever erase the memory that last January Ohio State did beat our Hogs in the Sugar Bowl. But it looks like they sold their soul in order to do it with a "win at all costs" mentality. Though I am not saying Arkansas is a team that is incapable of ever getting into serious NCAA trouble, I do as I write take pride in the fact that one of the biggest Arkansas wins came after we suspended players for a bowl game. Thanks, Lou, for doing the right thing. If Tressel had done so from the start, he would still have a job and his honor, if not a Sugar Bowl trophy.