Thank You Coach
Memorial Day is supposed to be a time when we give thanks to and remember those who have served our country. It is a weekend of relaxing, forgetting about the everyday grind and the biggest decision on anyone’s mind should be between burger or brat. For me it was going to be a day where I caught up on some unfinished blogs and finally gave my own personal opinion summary of the all the allegations facing Ohio State and what the future might hold for the program. I had been really busy with work the past few months and it seemed like something new was coming out every few days which added a new dimension to the matter. I had almost finished it up yesterday and planned on wrapping it up and posting it today when the proverbial bomb was dropped on me at 6:30 AM PST by an email from a friend. So instead of having to guess what the future of the Vest might be I am typing a sentence that no Buckeye fan ever wanted to type. After ten years the head football coach at the Ohio State University is no longer Jim Tressel. His letter of resignation was received and accepted by Gene Smith today citing doing what is best for the university and not wanting to be a further distraction to the team.
Even though it doesn’t come as a complete surprise – everyone knew that something like this was going to happen eventually. Nonetheless – it wasn’t supposed to end this way.
Tressel had brought back the pride of program from day one with his famous “our young men will make you proud” moment at the basketball game. When he took over the program had become too accustomed to seasons that started strong and faded late with disappointment against TSUN and often a shortcoming in bowl games. Cooper delivered a single win against TSUN, one Rose Bowl title, and a Heisman trophy – not to say he didn’t have talented teams, recruit well and all that – but his tenure was one of frustration. Tressel changed that – he awakened the sleeping giant of Buckeye tradition which had withered during Cooper, delivered a National Championship, a Rose Bowl Championship, Heisman trophy, two additional Fiesta Bowl wins, beat TSUN 9 out of 10 years and even vanquished the SEC monkey off our back this past year. The stat lines of his career speak for themselves – 106-22 overall record, a winning percentage of .828, which is better than Woody’s .761 and the second best of any Buckeye coach (Carroll Widdoes’ .889 only coached two seasons) Along with the first NC since 1968 are seven Big Ten titles, 9-1 against arch rival Michigan, sending teams to bowl games each year of his tenure going 6-4 overall in the postseason, 5-3 in BCS games and three NC game appearances. And that was just on the field.
Off the field he was just as amazing a man as he was a coach. He embraced everything that was the Ohio State community. He donated several thousands upon thousands to various causes including education and cancer research. Was constantly visiting schools, hospitals, attending benefits and of course is well known for his appreciation of the US Armed Forces (giving them an open invitation to any practice). Stories abound of Tressel and his players visiting those in need and pitching in. Current and former players talk about how much of a mentor he is/was, that he is a great maker of men, and that all these events will only make the team stronger. Obviously he cares about his players, sometimes to a fault – in the end it was probably his care for his players that ended up being his undoing. We were truly blessed to have Jim Tressel associated with the Ohio State University.
At the end of the day as tough as these past few months have been on the legacy of the Vest it will not tarnish it forever. The comparisons to Woody are easily made, the irony that such a successful career as Buckeye head coach was incinerated with one instance of poor judgment. But today Woody is remembered as a legend, and this will undeniably be the same case with Tressel.
Someday without a doubt Tressel’s name will hang in THE SHOE and he will dot tie I in script Ohio. I am just glad that this time around I was able to live the making of the legend.
Now time to get back to honoring those in uniform who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we enjoy with the freedoms we have.
Coach Tressel would want it this way.