7. displeased.

I’ve started writing this post almost daily since the press conference last week when Ohio State announced Jim Tressel had committed an NCAA major infraction by failing to report that a couple of his players might have sold memorabilia to a tattoo shop owner.

I’ve started and stopped so many times because I was waiting to see if my feelings from Monday, when Yahoo’s report surfaced, and Tuesday, when Ohio State botched the news conference announcing the violation, had tempered at all.

They haven’t. I’m angry.

I was angry before, when the university’s AD and its head football coach said they hadn’t done a good enough job educating the players about NCAA rules; the direct result was the players selling rings, jerseys, shoes and trophies to tattoo guy and receiving five-game suspensions as a result.

But that was nothing compared to Tressel’s inaction after he received tips that his players were selling the stuff. He knew in April; he didn’t say anything until after the Sugar Bowl, even though his contract says specifically that he must report possible violations.

In failing to do so, he committed a pretty serious one himself: NCAA Bylaw 10.1, unethical conduct. Classified as a major violation.

Ohio State spends a lot of time talking with the NCAA. In the last decade its athletics department has self-reported more secondary violations than any other program in the country. Supporters say that’s the sign of an honest program; cynics call it sanctioned cheating.

I’m not sure what I would call it.

But the football program has steered clear of serious problems, ones that are a direct result of misconduct on the part of the people who run the team. Until this week, I’ve been able to look a doubter in the eye and say that after Maurice Clarett, Troy Smith and even the tattoo thing that the NCAA has looked — and looked hard — and come up with nothing to tarnish the program.

Thanks to the inaction — or was it the action? — of the head coach, I can’t say that any longer.

Tressel said on Tuesday night he didn’t do anything about those emails because he was afraid of disrupting a federal drug investigation. Was he also afraid of jeopardizing what he had to know was a certain Top-5 preseason ranking? Was he also concerned about the possibility of losing the big September non-conference game for the third year in a row?

I wish I could say I didn’t have those doubts. But now I do.

I would be feeling a little better now if the news conference Tuesday had been handled differently. The last time an Ohio State coach was involved with a major violation, Ohio State fired head basketball coach Jim O’Brien so quickly that it got into trouble for breaching O’Brien’s contract.

Tressel could have been fired for this; termination is one possible outcome for committing a major violation, according to his contract. But both AD Gene Smith and President Gordon Gee not only made it clear that firing Tressel wasn’t an option, but they seemed to fall all over themselves to downplay the actions of the guy who got them in trouble. I love President Gee, but that news conference is not the right time to joke about the football coach firing the head of the university.

But as off-putting as that was, there was one thing that was worse. Tressel said he had to do better. He said he was aware that he had let some people down.

He never said he was sorry.

Coach, I’m one of the people you’ve let down. In the last decade I have been proud of my football team, both in terms of its performance on the field and with a few exceptions off it as well. Every time I hear a hater talk about Cheaty McSweatervest, I step up and defend what you’ve accomplished. I have been able to hold my head high, because my team has avoided the clouds that follow so many other college football programs.

And I can’t do that any longer.

I’ll still be there next fall, making the drive from Pittsburgh to Columbus for every home game. I’ll be in the stadium for the two games you have to miss. I’ll be there if the NCAA adds games to your suspension, or if it puts the program on probation. I’ll be there through the games that the starting quarterback, running back, wide receiver and left tackle have to miss because they didn’t know the rules.

I’m still going to be a fan, coach, even though it’s going to feel a little different. Until this week, I thought, perhaps naively, I believed I was cheering for something special. Now it’s going to feel like I’m cheering for just another college football program.


78. solved?

A bunch of boneheads — from Ohio State’s athletics director, to its head football coach, down to four of its best offensive players — may have just made my decision about hockey versus football a little easier. The details are here.

39. unhappy night.

I have several things I could write about tonight, but since Comcast can’t keep my internet connection up and running for more than a couple minutes at a time, I’m thinking I’ll skip it.

But before I lose my connection again, I’m going to take a look at Verizon’s rates. Hmmm…

7. cheap shot.

I’m not sure whether either Mrs. Crappy or I would qualify as foodies, but one of our great joys in life is giving a new — or new to us — restaurant a try for the first time.

And we’ve been pretty lucky in the time we’ve lived in or around Pittsburgh. We’ve had very few poor experiences, and a ton that were good to excellent.

I have opinions about restaurants, like everyone else. I’m happy to share them, especially when the experience was a good one. But I feel like I need to be careful about offering negative opinions about a place, especially if I’ve been there only once. I know this from writing about beer — the batch it came from, the store or bar where it was purchased, even the mood I’m in can color my reaction, and writing a review based on my one and only taste isn’t fair to the brewer or to anyone who might be reading my review.

Joe Harvey, the guy behind Pittsburgh Local Restaurant Week, came across a review of three Pittsburgh restaurants yesterday; he had some trouble with it, and rightly so. The blog is called Refined Palate; the reviewer is a Californian who appears to have a great deal more experience in fine dining than I could claim, and she has kept the blog going steadily for a couple years, so she shouldn’t be considered a rookie in that realm either. I didn’t take a lot of time to go through her other posts, but I did check out her Pittsburgh review, which was based on a recent visit.

I had some trouble with it too.

The initial red flag for me was a one-off comment about Yuengling being a local beer; I suppose you could say Budweiser is a local beer as well — since it’s brewed 200 miles away in Columbus — but right off the bat, I found myself wondering about the credibility of this expert.

A bunch of other folks, a few of whom I know, left comments for the post. I didn’t feel like I could let it go without comment either, because while the author makes some valid(ish) observations, there are also a few glaring problems.

With one caveat — that’s it’s tough to come up with a solid opinion based on one visit — I didn’t have too much of a problem with the author’s comments on Eleven or Lidia’s. The reviews stuck mostly to the quality of food and service, which is what she should do. But the author seemed to lose sight of context when she wrote about her visit to Primanti Brothers, though. She said in the comments that she’s a native Pittsburgher, so I would expect her to have at least a little knowledge of Primanti’s, its history and the fact that the fries and slaw come on the sandwich. To expect four-star service in a sandwich joint that specializes in moving people through the line quickly is unrealistic.

In the section about Lidia’s, the author makes three references to large Pittsburghers, or the fact that we seem to like buffets more than other cities. I’m a fat Pittsburgher, but really — does this kind of snide, obnoxious name-calling belong in a restaurant review? The answer, of course, is no; if she’s a competent reviewer, she should know to stay away from sweeping generalities, just as I know I can’t get away with saying all Californians are hippie airheads who eat twig-and-berry salads three times a day.

And then there’s the biggest problem of all. It’s just one line, at the end of the post: “Final comment: You don’t go to Pittsburgh to eat.” I’ve already discussed the difficulty I have with writing a valid restaurant review based on one visit; it’s even more egregious to write off an entire city’s restaurant scene based on three meals over a single weekend. I understand that the author’s time might have been limited, but perhaps if she had ventured out of one neighborhood — or, worse, one single street — she might have found some pleasant surprises.

We don’t have a French Laundry here in town; not many places do. But we have classic, old-school restaurants; pubs and diners that frequently exceed the expectations you’d have when you stroll in joint; and an impressive number of places willing to bend — or break — the rules in the name of bringing new experiences here. She could have found some of those places, if she had tried; as a native, I’m sure she’s aware of how friendly the people are (unless you’re a server at Primanti’s in the Strip), and I’m sure she would have found some recommendations. When Mrs. Crappy and I visit a new town, we take a minute to do some research before we leave. When we arrive we ask the locals where they go. And almost without exception, we’ve had great meals and a great time.

I guess that’s my biggest problem with Refined Palate’s Pittsburgh review — she didn’t try. If she had, she might have left town with a better taste in her mouth.


I spent way too much time today thinking about an idiot sportswriter in south Florida, and a column he pretty clearly wrote to get a ton of hits for the paper’s web site.

I’m not going to link to it here — I did that already at KNT, and you can go over there and see it if you like — but I still can’t let go, of the idiot sportswriter’s claim or what’s actually behind it.

What he said: Ohio Stadium doesn’t carry much of a home-field advantage. That can be addressed pretty easily:

(Yeah, I’m tired of the Seven Nation Army thing too, but the kids seem to like it, so whatever.)

What he meant:

  1. Ohio State isn’t relevant.
  2. The Buckeyes choke in the big games.
  3. We know what happens in those Midwest versus South contests.
  4. And when was the last time OSU won anything, anyway?

That is getting old, boys and girls. This crap needs to stop.

I have answers for idiot sportswriter:

  1. In this decade, Ohio State’s played in seven BCS bowl games, including the last six years straight. The Buckeyes have also played for the national championship three times in that span, winning one at the end of a perfect, 14-0 2002 season.
  2. Jim Tressel’s record against ranked opponents at Ohio State is 34-14.
  3. People from south Florida probably recall that last part about the national championship in Answer No. 1.
  4. You mean besides winning at least a share of the Big Ten championship for the last five seasons? Or winning five bowl games — four of which were BCS games — in the past decade? Well, you could start with that last part about the national championship in Answer No. 1.

In defending his idiotic comments today, idiot sportswriter said he’d be in Columbus to cover the game. I’d like to invite idiot sportswriter to stop up at 14C so I can scream in his ear for three hours. Idiot sportswriter would probably still think that Ohio State football isn’t relevant, but he’d at least know he was wrong about Ohio Stadium.


It’s not you. It’s me.

Just about every single interaction I had with other people today — in the office, on the phone, on Twitter, at the store — left me grinding my teeth. In a couple of instances — like with the clerk at Home Depot who thought suggesting that I get a cart would help me lift a bathroom vanity into the back of my car — my reaction has been justified, but in the rest of the cases, my rage has been entirely my problem.

I’m not usually a raving asshole — and, fortunately, I was largely able to keep the raving to myself today — so I’m hopeful this will pass and I’ll wake up tomorrow as my normal, cheerful self.

And that would be fine. Because today was not fun.