AKRON, Ohio – Former Ohio State Buckeyes Head Football Coach Jim Tressel sits at his desk in Buchtel Hall at the University of Akron and jokes about having a window for the first time in 37 years.
Although Tressel was not yet supposed to start as the University’s Vice President of Strategic Engagement until May 1st, he says he has already been on the job for the past three weeks meeting and welcoming students and learning how he will fit in.
Tressel’s new job description involved student recruiting and fundraising, both of which he says were responsibilities he became very familiar with as a head football coach.
“As an assistant coach it was simply football and recruiting,” said Tressel on Monday. “Well then I became a head coach 27 years ago all of a sudden leadership and management, fundraising and academics and football as well became part of the picture. And then the longer you are somewhere the more responsibilities they give you. That’s just the way it is.”
Tressel, who was forced to leave Ohio State after a scandal involving players trading memorabilia for tattoos, is forbidden from walking the sidelines at the University of Akron.
“I have no interaction with them both by restriction and by job description,” said Tressel. “We’ve got a great coaching staff, Terry (Bowden) will do a great job with our program.”
Tressel says Coach Bowden probably already has enough advice from others about what to do with his Zips football team. He doesn’t need any advice from him.
“As I’m on campus and I bump into kids, sometimes kids from the football team and the basketball team or whatever will, you know, introduce themselves,” said Tressel. “I wouldn’t have any restrictions on helping them prepare for life, but I’m not allowed to call any third down plays.”
Tressel says for years he had already been thinking about his life beyond football.
“My days of sitting in front of a football video machine and watching film, they disappeared a long time ago,” said Tressel. “Other things became more interesting and I thought more important.
Although excited about his new responsibilities, Tressel says he also understands the disappointment over the circumstances that lead to his exit from Ohio State.
“Of course you want it to be as if everyone would have had a perfect ending to a situation. Doesn’t always happen that way. In fact it doesn’t happen that way often enough. But I did feel a sense of folks disappointment and sadness. And people expressed that,” said Tressel. “Shoot I probably had over 5,000 e-mails and a couple thousand letters and texts and phone calls. So absolutely I felt that.”
He says he also continues to stay in touch with some of the players involved in the scandal.
“My kids were my sons. Everyone of them. I just talked to Terrelle (Pryor) two or three days ago. Mike Adams the night he got drafted. DeVier Posey the night he got drafted, Maurice Clarett few days ago. Many of your news-makers, you know those are my kids. And it hasn’t been perfect for them, but they will always be my kids,” said Tressel.
For now he is excited about tackling his new opportunity.
“People used to always ask me when JoPa (Joe Paterno) was going whether I was going to coach as long as JoPa? And my answer was always emphatically “No”. And so yes it was a change. But I don’t think it was as dramatic as what I thought I was going to be”