- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Senior Writer
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LOS ANGELES -- It's Monday morning and UCLA defensive coordinator Joe Tresey already feels behind. The day off after the Bruins comeback win over Washington State last Saturday was nice. Too nice. Because now all the work that normally gets done on Sunday has to get done on Monday and all the work that gets done on Monday, well, you get the idea.
Even though UCLA is on a bye week, this interview is the last thing Tresey has time for today. When you're coaching a 3-3 team whose season is about to break bad or good, there is never enough time to prepare.
Around 11:45 a.m., Tresey decides this is as good a time as any. His son Patrick, an intern on the Bruins staff, and I are still talking inside his office.
Tresey knocks on the door, but does not wait for an answer before entering.
"Alright, let's go. You're done," he says, looking at Patrick. "That's enough."
For 20 minutes the younger Tresey has been telling me his life story in and around major and minor college football. Why he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, how the game got into his blood while he was sleeping and dreaming and breathing. I've probably asked three questions the whole time. The rest of it, Patrick's been gushing. Flowing with the enthusiasm of a 24-year old who hasn't slept more than four hours in a night since fall camp started but still can't believe he's lucky enough to be here.
Then, with a look from his dad, he goes silent. That's it. Time's up. On to the next part of the day. He stands up, nods at his father, gives me a little wave, and explains nothing.
"That's my son," Tresey says as soon as the door closes behind Patrick. "I can do that."
Sure, it's a parental power trip, but it's also a nod to the deep bond they share. Patrick isn't just following in his father's footsteps, he's choosing to walk the same path with clear eyes and a full heart after living this life, all his life.
He gets the demands and the pressure. He knows the schedule. He loves all of it. Has since the day he tagged along to his first two-a-day camp with his dad at Middletown High School in Ohio back in 1994. That was 12 moves ago.
"Sometimes I think to myself, 'Am I here just because I've never known any better?' " Patrick Tresey said. "I had some thoughts about not doing it a little while ago.
But I just feel like it's been in my blood too. This game has been so good to me and my family."
He got this job on his own. All his father did was mention to Bruins head coach Rick Neuheisel that his son, who'd quarterbacked at the College of Mt. Saint Joseph's, might be interested.
"I went to Rick and I was like, 'For what it's worth, my son's been in this,' " Joe Tresey said. " 'You can grind him. You can do anything you need to do to him. He'll run through a wall for you. If you want to hire him, he's interested.' That's where I left it.
"I opened the door, but it was their decision to make. That's not my place. I just got here [in February]. The last thing I'm doing is trying to work my son a job."
After a few phone calls with Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Mike Johnson, Patrick Tresey got the job. He'd be an intern working with the offense if ... he could drive out from Cincinnati to Los Angeles in four days.
"Oh yeah, he drove," Tresey said, laughing again. "This is an intern job. They weren't going to fly him out."
It was one of his proudest moments as a father. The reality is he's had about 30 minutes to really enjoy it. Since Patrick Tresey works with the offense and Joe Tresey is the defensive coordinator, they exist in different worlds. Most days they pass each other in the halls of the football office three or four times, say, 'Hello' and move on to what's next. And now that Patrick lives on his own with some of the other football interns, he sees his parents away from the field just once or twice a week.
"It's the profession. You're coaching. You're focused on your task at hand," Joe Tresey said. "But I do feel bad sometimes because I haven't really embraced the situation or taken advantage of the opportunity like I hoped. I keep telling myself I need to do that, but it's just…"
His throat tightens with emotion before he can finish the thought.
"What about lunch?" I ask, before the water in his eyes become tears. "Couldn't you meet for lunch some days?"
Tresey shakes his head and shrugs. I clearly don't completely understand this yet.
"I don't do lunch," he said with a completely straight face. "I'll go and I'll find candy or a donut laying around, but lunch. No, I don't do lunch. I work. I'm conditioned like this."
He's always been this way. Hard-working, tough, prepared and blue-collar through and through. This isn't a job for him, it's a life. One that's taken him all over the country, from high schools and colleges in Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan and Georgia. Last season he coached the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League.
It's a tough life, but he does not lead it alone. His wife Patty, who holds a Ph.D, has given up great jobs in each town. "She's my best friend," he said sweetly. "She's the best. She's it." Patrick watched all of it and ran towards it, never away.
"My dad never pushed me into anything," he said. "I always loved football. It's in my blood."
Well-travelled men like Tresey tend to either be hardened and guarded mercenaries or emotional and generous father figures. It takes about five minutes to figure which category he fits into.
"The older you get, the more I appreciate what they [the players] do," he says, choking back emotion again. "I know they're on scholarship. But it's a year round job for them now. For what we expect out of them now. The way the BCS has changed the culture of our profession, the expectations they're under, you just really appreciate 'em. I just really appreciate them."
It has occurred to both of the Tresey men that this could be a short stop in Los Angeles. Neuheisel's leash in Westwood is short after he went 15-22 his first three seasons.
But those are thoughts for people who have time for things like lunch.
"If you want to win, you've got to grind," Patrick Tresey says. "That's how this life is. You have to put the time in."
Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLA.com.
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