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Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Ohio coaches split on Tressel tie tribute

By Adam Rittenberg

Although Jim Tressel exited Ohio State in disgrace, he still holds a great deal of respect in the coaching ranks, particularly within his home state.

As you probably know, the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association is recommending that its members wear ties during the opening weekend of the season to recognize Tressel and his contributions to high school football in the state.

But how many coaches will go through with the Tressel tribute?

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer recently surveyed about 150 coaches about the recommendation. Eighty-two coaches replied: 48 say they won't wear ties, 25 say they will and nine are undecided.

Here are two of the most interesting responses:
Strongsville coach Russ Jacques: "I cannot stand in front of my team honoring someone who talked about 'trust,' 'honesty' and 'doing the right things on and off the field,' as we do in our program, and have this same man go against everything he preached. He has done a lot for high school football, but what he did by lying is inexcusable as far as the integrity of our game and our profession. When [former OSU] Coach [Woody] Hayes was fired, did the high school football coaches honor him that first week of the season? He did a lot more for high school football and Ohio State than Tressel did."
St. Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle: "Jim Tressel made a mistake and has certainly received the consequences. The friendship and good will that he has for Ohio high school football should not be discarded because of that mistake. Young people can learn that a friend can make a mistake, serve a consequence, and still be a friend. Hopefully young people can still see the good within the person."

Another coach, Manchester's Jim France, tells the Plain Dealer that Tressel once called him at 10 p.m. the night before an Ohio State game to congratulate him on a big victory.
"How many big-time college coaches would make a personal phone call the night before a Big Ten game at 10 p.m. to a nobody Division IV head football coach to add congratulations for a significant victory? Jim Tressel did."

Some coaches also cite Tressel's book, "The Winners Manual," as both an example of his contributions to the profession and his contradictory actions.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the high school football season begins. I can't fault individual coaches for paying tribute for Tressel because it's their personal choice, but I certainly understand why most of the coaches voted no, citing that they want the focus to be on their players.

Tressel certainly can appreciate that sentiment.