Way back in the middle of the 2008 season, when we started this blog, the tagline next to our name was "Blogging Jim Tressel's worst nightmare." (If my memory is correct; it's been a few years.) It was a not-so-subtle shot at Ohio State and the Big Ten, and in keeping with the largely tongue-in-cheek title of the blog. To this day, many opposing fans do not recognize that the title of the blog is half-joking. In any case, at the time, both of the SEC's most recent BCS titles had come at Jim Tressel's expense.
It was also an acknowledgement that Tressel, Ohio State and the Big Ten as a whole were not particularly popular among SEC fans. The Up North Conference's commissioner was taking tired, academically-based shots at the SEC based almost entirely on arrogance and cliche. And Tressel, as the opponent of two SEC teams on the sport's biggest stage, had become emblematic of the rivalry between the Midwestern league and our own.
That doesn't mean there is any joy for us in today's news that Jim Tressel has stepped aside as Ohio State's head coach. Yes, as brilliantly and finally pointed out by Sports Illustrated -- which might have ended Tressel's career with a yet-to-be-published story on the Ohio State program -- Tressel was something of a hypocrite, at least when you compare his public image with what was actually going on with his highest-profile stars.
But it's still not terribly fun -- or shouldn't be -- to watch someone at the top of his career fall so spectacularly from self-inflicted wounds. Right or not, this will simply add to the narrative that college football is inherently corrupt and has no business being a part of higher education. As fans of the SEC, we know that argument and the reasons that it's not correct all too well.
There could still be some fallout from this for the SEC, unless you believe that Luke Fickell is going to be the permanent replacement. Despite tweets to the contrary, Urban Meyer is likely to be one of the top candidates for the job if Fickell doesn't wrap it up, which makes sense. Meyer is a Midwestern guy and a Woody Hayes fan, which combines with his record in Gainesville and current retirement to make him a likely candidate who might actually take the job.
Whoever takes the job will have more to do than simply trying to win football games; he will also face the difficult job of cleaning up the reputation of Ohio State.
It will not be an easy task.