Its been nearly a year since Jim Tressel resigned from his post as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes amongst the fallout of Tattoo-gate. Since then, Tressel has acted as a Football Maven for the Indianapolis Colts and in February became Vice President of Strategic Engagement for the Akron Zips. “I’ll be coaching every day, so coaching is not out of my blood because coaching is serving, just like teaching is serving and administrating is serving,” said Tressel, “Out on the field with that oblong thing that bounces funny, that’s probably out of it. I came here to be an educator. That coaching will never leave me.”
I’m not buying it. Someone hire The Vest, NOW!
This is a question of long-term rewards versus short-term setbacks. Tressel comes with baggage. (Don’t we all?) As punishment for covering up players indiscretions and knowingly playing ineligible players the NCAA has tagged Tressel with a five year show cause sanction. If a university hires Tressel as a football coach they will have to accept his 5 game suspension, put themselves at risk for greater severe penalties until December 2016, and submit to whatever other penalties the NCAA deems appropriate for hiring a coach on their naughty list.
Now let’s take a perennial basement dweller like say Indiana. Indiana has been playing football since 1887 and has been to a bowl game 9 times. The last bowl game was 2007 (Insight) and before that was 1993 (Independence). At best the Hoosiers are the third best college team in Indiana. Notre Dame, Purdue, maybe… Ball State, half a dozen junior colleges and prep schools, Troop 348 out of Muncie and then the Hoosiers. Indiana averages a post season appearance every 13.9 years.
Now let’s suppose Kevin Wilson doesn’t turn out to be a good coach. After one or two more years the program is going nowhere. Stadium attendance is low, recruiting is sub-zero, the team is showing no signs of improvement. Why not hire Tressel?
What would Indiana have to lose?
* Tressel is required to sits out the first 5 games: Big Deal. Four
Non-Conference games and one B1G game.
* A bowl ban: Indiana isn’t going to make a bowl game for years
* A monetary fine: Take it out of Tressel’s salary.
* Lost scholarships: So What? The quality of recruits the Hoosiers
would get to play for Tressel would be worth losing three or five
substandard recruits a year.
You would gain Tressel’s experience and name brand. He could coach at practices. He would attract great position coaches to Indiana. He could recruit. He would bring Tressel ball to the Hoosier State. You could wear sweater vests on campus.
We know Tressel is a good coach. If you want to get your football team out of the gutter you must do something drastic. You must change a culture. You could hire a good coach whose name alone will recruit despite a bowl ban and will put asses back in the Memorial Stadium seats. Game attendance means money to upgrade facilities. Why not do this if you are Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Kansas, Duke, Colorado, Oregon State, Kentucky, Rutgers?
The real reason not to hire Tressel is because it exposes the University to liability. It exposes the University to the possibility of a Death Penalty order from the NCAA should any coach (not just Tressel) violate serious NCAA regulations. The NCAA could crush not just football but all sports. All revenue. That would suck.
It’s a risk but some risks are worth taking.
How big a risk is it for the University? The NCAA has shown they a reluctant to harshly punish schools that commit NCAA violations. (Looking at you NC and Miami) It would be wildly out of character for the NCAA to harshly punish a program for violations that happened at a completely different University. Will Tressel make the same mistakes? I would wager he will not.
Could gambling on Tressel jump-start a D.O.A. program? Absolutely!