The Ohio State Buckeyes are one of the glamour programs in college football. OSU has won seven national titles, including a BCS title eight seasons ago. No school has won more Heisman Trophies.
The Buckeyes have a rabid fan base and the type of facilities any coach would dream of, and have been a fixture in BCS bowls. But in the wake of Jim Tressel's exceptionally messy exit from Ohio State on Monday, it is going to be a fascinating next six months or so around Columbus.
There is an ongoing NCAA investigation and it's widening in scope. The status of star players was already in jeopardy and now there are even darker clouds hanging over the program and its highest-profile talent, quarterback Terrelle Pryor. No one knows exactly how heavily the NCAA is going to come down on Ohio State. As I said a few weeks back, it's still a possibility the NCAA will charge OSU with a lack of institutional control.
In addition to the Tressel news Monday, the school announced that it is committed to having assistant Luke Fickell coach the team for the 2011 season. Buckeyes insiders have said that if Fickell can lead OSU to a 10- or 11-win season, there would be a lot of internal support for him to get the head-coaching job on a permanent basis. But there are a lot of questions in play here. What makes this even more of a chaotic situation is that there is a good chance that Tressel is only the first to go in Columbus. His boss, athletic director Gene Smith, probably won't survive this debacle, either.
The mess at Ohio State does provide us with an interesting comparison to another "glamour school" that recently went through a coaching change and NCAA turmoil -- the USC Trojans.