Imagine the embarrassment Ohio State must feel in suspending head football coach Jim Tressel for the first two games of next season while fining him $250,000.
Then imagine the university having to hold its breath to see if the NCAA makes it worse.
Tressel's punishment for failure to disclose information that several of his players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, were selling memorabilia should be much worse.
It isn't because Tressel has achieved considerable success in consistently leading the Buckeyes to the top of the Big Ten during his 10-year tenure in Columbus.
Lesser coaches have been fired for lesser violations.
Tressel was made aware last April via e-mail from a Columbus attorney alleging the recipient of the memorabilia was tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife, who has a criminal history.
The coach chose to sit on it, no doubt hoping it would never surface. And it didn't - until December when the U.S. attorney's office informed Ohio State that it had discovered some memorabilia during a raid on Rife's home.
That led to Ohio State suspending Pryor and four other players for the first five games of next season.
The players, though, would be permitted to play in the Sugar Bowl, another questionable move.
The matter was closed until Ohio State's legal affairs department discovered Tressel's e-mails, leading to the school disclosing its infractions to the NCAA and fining Tressel.
Tressel said he "let a lot of people down," but hid behind the ridiculous alibi that he was "scared" and wasn't sure to whom to turn.
The richest athletic program in the nation has plenty of compliance officers, and Tressel obviously knows that. Instead, he turns into Sgt. Schultz.
Then again, the minute he would have reported that was the minute he would have had to suspend Pryor and other standouts such as standout running back Dan "Boom" Herron and receiver DeVier Posey.
When Penn State learned in December of 1997 that star running back Curtis Enis had taken money from agent Jeff Nalley, he was suspended immediately. It was later confided that Nalley didn't just show up in December: He had been around the previous summer and most of that season.
Did Joe Paterno know that? No.
Could he afford to know? No.
There are a whole lot of coaches who keep their fingers crossed that their players don't fraternize with agents.
Tressel's antics taint the Buckeyes' success over the past decade. To that end, perhaps not coincidentally, the Southeastern Conference has dominated the BCS and led the nation in NCAA violations.
Where does the Ohio State case go from here? The SEC suspended Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl for eight conference games for a lesser recruiting violation.
Will the Big Ten step in or wait for the NCAA in this case? Don't count on the Big Ten. It's been widely reported that Commissioner Jim Delany helped convince the NCAA to allow the suspended players eligibility for the Sugar Bowl.
Equally troubling was the reaction of Ohio State President Gordon Gee, who joked when asked if he thought about firing Tressel.
"Are you kidding?" was Gee's response. "I'm just hopeful the coach doesn't dismiss me."
In other words, Tressel's failure to disclose was trumped only by the allegations actually surfacing.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.