Jim Tressel (aka "The Vest"), the head coach of The Ohio State Buckeyes, held out his star player yesterday in their epic battle against Pete Carroll and the USC Trojans. This game was--we should understand--likely worth a lot of money for OSU since it could have propelled them into a national championship game which pays out approximately $17,000,000. It was a brave thing that Tressel did, I think. It doesn't reflect anything about Tressel's coaching abilities, but it does say something about him as a human being, as a caretaker for his players, and a person who understands the place of sport in life. He's taken some heat for the decision, and I can't say whether it was the right one or not because I don't know the nature of Wells' injury, but I can say Tressel showed he cares about his players more than the record.
And that is what separates him from some perpetually-also-ran like Mike Bellotti at the University of Oregon. Last year, his star player hurt his knee, but Belotti let him play with an ACL tear against the Arizona Wildcats. No offense, but OSU vs. USC and UO vs. UA is apples and oranges. Oregon was highly ranked playing an inferior opponent, whereas OSU was highly ranked playing a team that was picked to beat them (and beat them USC did...badly). Whose decision was tougher?
And there is a moral equivalency because team doctors had cleared both players. Wells was cleared before Tressel said "no," and Dixon was cleared, I guess. The doctors assured Bellotti that Dixon couldn't do any more damage to the knee, but still.
Also, Belotti doesn't have the cojones to stand up to Nike and tell them to stop testing out ugly-ass uniforms on his players. I'm pretty sure the new Nike gear has some dangerous chemicals in it and will, perhaps, create at least one super-hero or -villian from the roster of this team.