Jim Tressel and Akron: What It Means for the NCAA and College Football
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Jim Tressel was born in Ohio, went to a small college in Ohio and went on to be the Head Coach of Ohio State University after coaching at Youngstown State. Tressel has been a winner and built winners in Ohio. With all those wins comes some controversy, however.
Tressel took Youngstown State to Division 1-AA Football prominence. The Penguins played in four National Championship games in a row from (1991-1994), winning three. Under the guidance of Tressel, the Penguins reached two more National Championship games, winning one more title in 1997.
In 1998, the legend of Jim Tressel took a hit. It was discovered that a former player of the program had received massive payouts while competing for YSU.
Those allegations didn't hurt him too bad. He was later announced as the Head Coach for the Buckeyes of Ohio State. Ohio State is an iconic program and any Ohio-born and football-crazed male would love to coach the football team.
Tressel landed high-profile recruits like Maurice Clarett (Mo C), Chris Gamble, Michael Jenkins, Santonio Holmes, Nick Mangold, Donte Whitner, and Terrelle Pryor, just a few examples who led Tressel to one national title in three national title game appearances. Tressel turned the Buckeyes back into a program that people respected, feared and admired.
Tressel eventually resigned at Ohio State for failing to notify the school of NCAA violations involving Ohio State football players and a financial arrangement with Edward Rife. Rife, owner of a local tattoo parlor, was at the time under investigation by the FBI for drug trafficking.
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The arrangement, which resulted in suspensions for five Ohio State football players, involved trading championship rings, jerseys and other football-related awards for tattoos.
On Dec. 20, 2011, the NCAA placed Ohio State on an additional one year's probation and banned it from postseason play in 2012 for numerous 'major violations' during the tenure of Jim Tressel at Ohio State University, in addition to the penalties Ohio State imposed on themselves.
It also imposed a 'five-year show-cause penalty' on Tressel, which means any NCAA member that wants to hire him would have to "show cause" for why it shouldn't be sanctioned for hiring him, and could face severe penalties if he commits any further violations during that time. The order stands until Dec. 19, 2016.
This order will effectively blackball Tressel from the coaching ranks until the 2017 season. If Tressel ever coaches again during this period, he will be suspended for the first five games of the regular season, plus any conference championship game or bowl game.
The NCAA ruled harshly on Tressel because he had four opportunities to tell the truth about what he knew about the involvement of his players with the tattoo parlor owner and, instead chose to cover up what he knew.
Jim Tressel was announced as the Vice President of Strategic Engagement at the University of Akron on Feb. 2, 2012, according to a school press release. Tressel was involved in finding the new Head Coach at Akron this offseason when the position was open. The fact that Tressel helped pick Terry Bowden gives this whole job title a different meaning.
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Tressel already has loose involvement with the football program because he was on the panel to find the new coach. Having the input of Tressel on this panel makes me wonder if Tressel is eyeing the job that he helped find Bowden for. And if so, how long until Tressel becomes an option for the job?
Tressel has won in Ohio. He knows the state and will not struggle to recruit athletes. Tressel would be in Akron, and Akron gives him access to talent in the Cleveland, Canton and Akron areas. He can go to Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania for talent, areas he has already demonstrated he can recruit successfully in.
The Akron Zips football program had its last winning season in 2005, when they had a 7-5 record with an appearance in the Motor City Bowl. The last two seasons the teams have gone 1-11 both years.
Zips football is hurting. They need someone to save the program. A person that could come in and build it into a winner; a long-term winner.
Tressel, 59, could easily take over the program and turn it around. MAC football has a strong tradition, and while the conference doesn't earn an automatic bid to a BCS game college football conferences are realigning and an opportunity could present itself.
Another element to take into consideration is the 'Boise State 2.0'. When I say 'Boise State 2.0', I mean when a small school, non-BCS conference, turns into a powerhouse and beats BCS teams, in the regular season and when they crash the BCS Bowls.
The reputation of Tressel could lure in high-quality athletes immediately, and Akron doesn't have a whole lot to lose in this deal. Akron would have the ability to appeal the sanctions and state their case to why their program shouldn't be impacted by the Tressel sanctions at Ohio State.
Worst-case scenario, Akron has to wait five games until Tressel can get on the sidelines and they have to deal with limited sanctions.
I do not see how the NCAA could impose sanctions on Akron. It is a program that is facing tough times and needs to be revitalized somehow. Tressel is the man to do it. Tressel and the Akron football program both need an image makeover, and they could do it together.
Think of an annual meeting putting Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes up against Jim Tressel and a reborn football program at Akron.
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