Jim Tressel – Still Loved In NEO

May 10, 2023

Andy Billman

Jim Tressel First Pitch Guardians Game

As we move closer and closer to the start of the 2023 Ohio State Buckeyes football season we wanted to start by remembering and looking back at one of the most beloved coaches of Buckeye Nation, Jim Tressel.

Mentor Ohio native, Jim Tressel threw the first pitch on Friday night in Cleveland, and I thought it would be a good time to look back at Coach Tressel and remind us why to this day he is still revered and loved :

3 things to remember about former Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel

1 – 9-1 against Michigan

On January 18th, 2001 Coach Jim Tressel was announced as the 22nd coach at Ohio State.  Coach Tressel made a famous speech at the halftime of the Michigan-Ohio State game, the same day he was announced as head coach.  And he said this famous line “(fans will be) proud of their team in the classroom, in the community and most especially, in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the football field.”

Coach Tressel lived up to that speech, he dominated Michigan changing the tone of the rivalry forever.

2 – 2002/2003 National Championship

In his second season, he brought the Buckeyes back to prominence as the 2002 team won the national championship defeating Miami.  It was a magical year that saw Ohio State win multiple games in thrilling fashion.  Some of the memorable games: 

*The “Holy Buckeye” win against Purdue (10-6) as the Buckeyes were down 6-3 with a 4th and 1 in the 4th Quarter and Craig Krenzel threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins to win the game. 

*The very next week, the Buckeyes traveled to Champaign to play Illinois and survived with a 23-16 OT victory.  Ohio State knocked down the pass of Illinois quarterback Jon Beutjer on 4th down to seal the victory.

*Ohio State clinched a victory against the hated Wolverines with Maurice Hall’s touchdown with 4:55 left in the game to give the Buckeyes the lead for good 14-9.

*2003 Fiesta Bowl saw the heavily favored Miami Hurricanes play Ohio State in one the most memorable games for every Buckeye fan.  It looked like the game was lost as the were Buckeyes down 24-17 when Krenzel’s 4th down pass in the first overtime was knocked down seemingly ending the game. But field judge Terry Porter threw a late flag calling pass interference, keeping the Buckeyes alive.  Ohio State scored three plays later, sending the game to a 2nd overtime and Maurice Clarett put the Buckeyes up for good, scoring the game-winning touchdown from five yards out. 

3 – “The Senator” 

Coach Tressel won often in Columbus with an 81% winning percentage and is loved by fans and media for his calm demeanor on the sideline and the respect, and kindness he showed to all.  He also often wore a tie and red vest on the sideline that still today can be found worn by some Buckeye fans in the horseshoe in honor of Coach Tressel.  

Sadly, it did not end well for Coach as he resigned on May 30th, 2011 after a memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal ending with a five-year show-cause penalty for Tressel.  

But his impact can still be felt today for all that he did at Ohio State along with his success at Youngstown State as Coach and recently President.  

Retired But Still Active in NEO Community

Tressel, who turned 70 this past December, officially retired and stepped down from his role as University President at Youngstown State back in February, and while he no longer gets up every day and drives to his office on campus, he certainly hasn’t slowed down.

Tressel, who was recently celebrated on the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer, thanked his former players and talked about how blessed he and his wife Helen have been to be surrounded by such wonderful people.

Given what Tressel means to so many people in and around the Buckeye State, you can expect the retirement celebrations, ceremonial moments, and accolades to keep being heaped upon the former Ohio State football head coach. I for one can’t think of someone more deserving of these honors. When you go 9-1 against your rival, you can expect to be loved by just about everyone.

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