It hard to imagine Jim Tressel's current situation getting any worse. SB Nation has a full, detailed run down if you want, but basically Tressel knew his players were selling memorabilia, didn't tell Ohio State about it and lied to the NCAA about it, but did inform Terrelle Pryor's mentor.
Now, Tressel has been suspended five games (the same as his players) and could face more punishment from the NCAA. Really, the only way this could get worse for him is if it turned out he paid someone to try and keep this all a secret or if he's Dave Bliss.
It doesn't look like Ohio State is going to fire Tressel for his offenses, though he probably would have already been if he were a lesser coach or at a university that doesn't value football as much as Ohio State does. Hell, at the press conference announcing Tressel's initial suspension of two games, Ohio State president Gordon Gee said, "I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me."
There are a few who believe Ohio State should fire Tressel, including one writer for The Lantern, Ohio State's student newspaper. But this isn't a coach who has been at Ohio State for only a couple of years or one with a history of losing. This is a coach who brought a national championship to Ohio State, is 9-1 against its arch rival and until recently had done so the right way.
Tressel's a guy I like who has earned some leeway with his school for the way he's won and the way he's conducted himself. But he's quickly making Ohio State's decision to keep him a difficult one and if more incriminating details come out about his knowledge of his players' dealings, Tressel and the university might reach that tipping point.
So the question becomes this: At what point do you fire a legendary coach? And I'm not talking about the situation Bobby Bowden was in where the program had become stale and was failing to meet expectations. When do you fire a coach who's still winning, but has done so at the cost of the reputation of the program and the university?
Frank Beamer hasn't brought a national championship to Blacksburg, but he has built the football program up from basically nothing to a respectable one that wins regularly. I think that if he were in the same situation Tressel was in, he probably would have gotten the same treatment. Suspended, not fired, censured, not dismissed.
But what would it take for a coach like Beamer, Tressel, Bob Stoops, Mack Brown or Nick Saban to get the boot? These things are rarely black and white and I think you have to weigh a coaches' reputation against the violations themselves. The five coaches I just named are going to have to do a lot more to get fired while still winning than someone like Brady Hoke, Mike London or Mike Stoops.
So when does a legendary coach force the hand of his athletics director? Does he have to lie to investigators like Tressel? Does he have to incur severe violations for academic misconduct like Minnesota basketball coach Clem Haskins? Does it take paying players? Or does it take the full Dave Bliss?
To me, I think once you get into pay-for-play territory is when you dismiss a long-tenured, successful head coach with no prior history. Tressel's actions won't get him fired, but I'm sure Ohio State would have to think long and hard about his future with the university. It's also more proof that no coach, despite their record or reputation, is above doing something to tarnish their legacy or their institution.