Breaking it down: ‘Tattoo-Gate’ scandal costs Ohio State almost $8M
Published: Monday, June 4, 2012
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 01:06
I was just like every other sports journalist in Columbus last year. Standing outside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, home of the Ohio State Football team, looking for stories, evidence and quotes.
About this time last year, Jim Tressel had just been forced out of his head coaching position, Luke Fickell was being introduced as interim coach and photographers and piles of public records requests were trying to figure out the legitimacy of former quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s car.
I wrote about the emails, I wrote about the cars, I reported about the “deals” Ray Small claimed to get, I wrote about the cover-up and I wrote about the seriousness of the situation: about the black eye that will cost the Athletic Department for years to come.
But then I got to thinking, everyone understands what the cost of this “Tattoo-5” scandal had on the reputation of the university. I stood on the sidelines of every away game last season and heard fans from other teams yell things about tattoos, cars and one fan not-so-politely asked me where Pryor was. I watched ESPN constantly update its sidebar with more mistakes at OSU.
The reputation has made a recovery. With coach Urban Meyer at the wheel and all the players involved in the NCAA investigation either graduated, drafted or departed from the university, the OSU football program is returning to normalcy.
But I got to thinking. These five players received tattoos, money, deals on cars and maybe a free meal from time to time. A small amount of money that probably will cost the university a lot more than they could even imagine.
So after months of reporting and researching, I have come to a conclusion. A tangible number that illustrates the actual cost to the university for the mistakes of a couple of football players and their head coach.
While Tressel, Pryor, former running back Daniel “Boom” Herron, former wide receiver DeVier Posey, and former linemen Solomon Thomas and Mike Adams are not totally responsible for every penny, the result of the scandal and ensuing costs to the university and athletic department are connected to the scandal in a major way.
Let me explain.
Urban hire - $1,119,000
Tressel was a Buckeye. He loved his team, and they loved him. Many fans wore his signature vest to every home game and away game; sometimes out to parties on a Thursday night. His presence was intimidating and his legacy will remain with every fan.
It is safe to say Tressel was going to be around for a long time had the scandal not happened. It would be fair to assume he would have filled the remainder of his contract had Edward Rife not hooked up Pryor and company with some free tattoos.
So there is a base number consistent with Tressel’s projected salary that can be compared to Meyer’s projected salary during that same period.
Meyer was the hottest commodity on the college football market at the time. He had taken a year off for health reasons, and decided only to come back to the coaching world because of the opening at OSU.
“If it was but for the coaching position at The Ohio State University, I would not have coached this coming year,” Meyer said at his introductory press conference.
With this blockbuster-esque acquisition, comes a Hollywood-type price tag. Athletic director Gene Smith even said, “Meyer is without a doubt one of the premier leaders in football.”
And with that, comes a cost.
Tressel was due to make $3,777,000 each year for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons, fulfilling his contract that had been extended in 2010.
Meyer’s contract is an even $4 million a year for six years. He gets a retention bonus after the completion of every two-year period. So in the first three years, the years Tressel would have been on contract, Meyer would make $12,450,000 through the 2014 season.
Tressel would have made $11,331,000. A difference of $1,119,000.
New staff - $3,788,643
When Meyer was introduced as coach of the Buckeyes, Smith made it apparent he was going to be spending money to try to bring in the best coaching staff in the country.
“We’ll put in place the resources necessary to attract the staff that Urban feels he needs,” Smith said.
OSU is not known for spending large sums of money on its assistant coaches. Smith had previously said he wouldn’t participate in a bidding war to land top assistant coaches, the kind many SEC schools engage in.
During Meyer’s introductory press conference, Smith made clear that mentality was changing. When asked what had changed, Smith said, “age and maturity and competition.”
And that staff consists of Everett Withers, Luke Fickell, Tom Herman, Ed Warinner, Kerry Coombs, Stan Drayton, Tim Hinton, Zach Smith, Mike Vrabel, Mickey Marotti, Mark Pantoni and Brian Voltolini.
Tressel’s 2010 coaching staff was Jim Heacock, Jim Bollman, Fickell, Paul Haynes, Darrell Hazell, Taver Johnson, John Peterson, Nick Siciliano, Dick Tressel, Eric Lichter and Troy Sutton. And without speculating what could have changed, we’ll just use the last available salary for all these coaches.
The co-defensive coordinators, Fickell and Withers, will make $750,000 and $450,000 respectively. Heacock, the defensive coordinator in 2011, made $350,000. A difference of $850,000.
New offensive coordinators Herman and Warinner will make $420,000 and $350,000 in 2012 respectively, which is $420,000 more than their predecessor, Bollman.