The undefeated 2002 BCS National Championship Ohio State Buckeye football team was honored Saturday at the Horseshoe during the Michigan-Ohio State game. Jim Tressel was the head coach of that team and was asked to be present with the team.
It was speculated that Tressel would decline, but evidently he was convinced to attend and was the recipient of a standing ovation and riotous roar from the Buckeye faithful.
Jim Tressel is an Ohio guy. He comes from an Ohio football coaching lineage. His father, Lee Tressel, was a successful high school coach before becoming the head football coach at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. Jim learned the coaching craft on the fields at Baldwin-Wallace watching his father conduct practices and run a college football program.
Jim Tressel was even an all-conference quarterback for his father at Baldwin-Wallace during his college years.
Tressel honed his coaching style as the head football coach at Youngstown State for 14 years from 1986-2000. He won four NCAA Division 1-AA Football Championships while at Youngstown State. In 2001, Ohio State came calling when they were looking for a replacement for John Cooper.
Tressel got it. His teams were 8-1 against rival Michigan. He understood the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry that John Cooper was never able to embrace.
For that reason alone, Jim Tressel will go down in history as one of the greatest of the 23 Ohio State head coaches of all time.
Under Tressel’s guidance, Ohio State won the 2002 National Championship and appeared in three BCS Championship games. His overall record while at OSU was 94-22 (.810) and included six Big Ten Conference titles.
He was forced to resign after NCAA investigations found infractions against players that had traded memorabilia for money and tattoos. Pretty serious crimes against man in these troubled times.
During his tenure, Jim Tressel restored Ohio State football to the lofty status that it enjoys today.
The athletic department and the university as a whole benefited greatly from his time as the head coach.
He received a great tribute on Saturday at the OSU-Michigan game in the “Shoe."
He deserved it.