This is a heartfelt message to former Ohio State coach and Youngstown State President Jim Tressel. (Imagine Morgan Freeman is reading it to you. Why, you ask? Because everything sounds better—and is hopefully more convincing—when Morgan Freeman’s reading it.)
Dear President Jim Tressel,
Let me start by saying how weird that is to write; I'll get used to it, though.
We’ve never actually met in person, and that’s precisely why I’ve decided to reach out. Not with the hopes of meeting up—I know you’re a very busy man these days and will soon become busier—but because my fandom has company. And the coaching world still needs you.
Before I break into the begging portion of this letter—and beg I shall, unabashedly—I wanted to address some of the comments you recently made. Speaking to Karen Farkas of The Plain Dealer, you provided insight on your future and whether you planned to dabble back into the coaching world.
Your lead-in was lovely. "I did it for 38 years and enjoyed every minute of it," you said. With your follow-up, however, you melted my smile into a cartoonish frown:
I do not wake up in the morning and say I wish I was coaching. Sometimes I read the paper and say I am glad I am not coaching. But on Saturdays or Sunday afternoons during playoff games it is exciting and I may yell 'Call a time out!' But I do not foresee any interest in coaching. I have got more important things to do. Not that it (coaching) is unimportant.
No need to justify your stance by defending your former occupation; you have very important matters to tend to—matters that now impact how a school is run.
As the executive vice president for student success at Akron, you made a difference in an area you know remarkably well. And now you will be able to make a difference as the president of Youngstown State University.
Youngstown has made it official that you'll be running the show, and I can't imagine what this must be like for you. Then I saw that you popped in on social media to share how you felt about the job with your many fans:
Excited about the opportunity at YSU! It’s all about student success. Going to miss all the wonderful Zips at UA.— Jim Tressel (@JimTressel5) May 9, 2014
No, you didn’t ascend to the same role at Akron, but clearly you had other options. We here at Bleacher Report applaud your life-after-coaching rise and whatever might be ahead.
With all that said, let’s change subjects.
Please come back.
Don’t say no, at least not right now, and don’t rule out the possibility of coaching somewhere—anywhere, really—down the line. The game needs you, it misses you, and just fathoming the sweater vest being hung up for good is hard to stomach. Then again, so was your exit.
The treatment you received on the way out was nothing short of ridiculous. Given perspective and the current instability of the NCAA, it is even harder to fathom. You protected your players, and yes, you kept some really unimportant matters secret and lied to the NCAA.
You also rigged a raffle earlier in your career, but who hasn’t done that? And if every coach that kept something hidden from the NCAA were forced to retire, well, we would have no football. We also wouldn't have basketball, and the whole sham would be gone as we know it.
These were petty infractions in a system now accustomed to taking gut punch after gut punch. The fact that you still have a five-year show-cause penalty hanging over you until 2016 is incomprehensible.
I can’t blame you for wanting no part in a sport that turned its back on you. I also can’t blame you for wanting no part in a system still being "overlooked" by the NCAA. But by the time 2016 rolls around, things could look mighty different.
The NCAA will still exist, although collegiate athletics will have drastically changed. The people who oversaw and prompted your exit will likely be gone, and you will have your pick at a handful of marquee jobs. (I’m not sure if you’ve been paying attention over the last few years, but quality jobs open up pretty much every other week.)
More important than the nonsense that comes with this sport, however, was the experience. You loved coaching, and it’s clear you loved your players. In fact, one could argue that your protection of them led to your new life away from the field.
This love was reciprocal. The players loved you right back, and the college fan grew to appreciate your coaching style.
It wasn’t flashy—"punty" might be a better term to use—but goodness, was it effective. Your teams were deliberate and downright dominant at times, and your remarkable 229-79-2 record as a head coach speaks for itself.
As good as you are as a university employee—and as effective as you will be as a president—you will never be able to approach just how excellent you were as a head coach. That’s not a knock on your current occupational production; it’s simply pointing out that you were really, really good at your former craft.
It would be a shame to let one domino of unfortunate events derail that entirely. I don’t need a decision now, but think about it over the coming months and years. By then, "coaching" could be a foreign term for you. If that's the case, we wish you nothing but the best.
Keep us in mind, at least. The game will be waiting—with opportunities aplenty—and your services will be desired. The door is always open.
Also, have you seen some of the coaching salaries lately? You could buy a lot of quality vests and vest accessories with that.
See you soon—hopefully.
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