Seeking to defuse a potential controversy over their hiring of former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, the Colts said Monday that Tressel's role as a game-day consultant wouldn't begin until the seventh game of the season.
The team cited concerns for current and former Ohio State players in the wake of Tressel's May 30 resignation as head coach at the school in the midst of an NCAA investigation of irregularities in the program.
"After the announcement of coach Jim Tressel's agreement to join the Colts as a game day consultant, questions were raised with respect to the equity of his appointment as opposed to suspensions being served this season by present and former Ohio State players ..." Colts vice chairman Bill Polian said in a statement. "At Coach Tressel's suggestion, and with Mr. (Jim) Irsay's concurrence and support, we have decided to begin Coach Tressel's employment effective with our seventh regular season game.
"We have informed the league office of our decision and expect that they will be supportive of it. We are very happy Coach Tressel will be joining us."
Five of Ohio State's top players were suspended in December for the first five games of the 2011 college season for accepting cash and tattoos in exchange for autographed memorabilia. Among those suspended was QB Terrelle Pryor, who subsequently withdrew from school, hired an agent and petitioned the NFL for permission to enter the supplemental draft. The league granted his request, but with the proviso that his NCAA suspension would carry over to the first five games of his NFL career.
Pryor has decided to appeal that suspension, it was disclosed over the Labor Day weekend.
Tressel was hired as a replay consultant, and his employment will be confined to the coaches' booth on game days.
The way we see it
The Colts feared — and rightly so — that people would ask why Tressel was immune from disciplinary action by the league at a time when Pryor was suspended for being a part of the same scandal. After the Colts announced their decision, a spokesman for the league said it was satisfied with the decision. Yet, it wasn't immediately known whether or not the NFL urged the Colts to take this action or whether it would have allowed an apparent double standard to persist if the Colts hadn't acted.