I know Jim Tressel well. Jim is part of a coaching family. His dad, Lee Tressel, coached at Baldwin–Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. His brother, Dick, coached at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. Between the three of them, they won 487 games. Lee and Jim, as far as I know, are the only father-son coaching duo to win national championships. Lee won one at Baldwin-Wallace, while Jim has five titles, four at Youngstown State and one at Ohio State.
Jim was always concerned with his players. When he got the job at Ohio State in 2001, he called me. “Couple things,” he said. “No. 1, I want you to have my straight-line phone number. Secondly, I’m really concerned about players getting in trouble with agents and academics. I want you to come in to talk to our players.”
When I went there, he had moved his office. John Cooper, who now does personnel work for the Cincinnati Bengals, had his office on the second floor when he coached at Ohio State. Jim moved to the first floor so he could have better access to his players and coaches. He was for the players and the people. He was the man on the street, if you will.
Obviously he got in trouble. I think he thought he could handle it all by himself, but regrettably it led to his downfall. The guy went out of his way to help his players, right or wrong. Down deep, he always had the players’ best interests at heart.
He likely has no future now in college. He might at a much lower level, but not in the big conferences. As for the NFL, I think there’s a tremendous difference between the two levels. You look at all the highly successful college coaches and not many of them seem to translate that to the NFL. I don’t think the NFL is for Jim.
In the end, I think he’ll end up at some small school in an unpaid type of capacity in which he helps young coaches and young people. That’s what he always loved doing.