Jim Tressel: The Overly Calm Buckeye After the Trojan Storm


I couldn’t figure it out at first. It had to be Valium, I thought.

He must have downed a couple capsules somewhere between the 24-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez to Damian Williams and the 17-yard scoring pass to Williams.

A 21-3 deficit at halftime is bad. But 35-3 with only 32 net yards rushing in the second half? That’s ridiculous.

You don’t just sit calmly shrugging at a room full of sportswriters like some automaton after your team has been swept off the field for the third consecutive time in a nationally televised out-of-conference matchup.

But there was Jim Tressel, in a white shirt, scarlet tie, and grey sweater-vest, telling a national assembly of writers that his guys had hung tough.

It was virtually the same thing he had said to ABC at halftime: “We had touchdowns called back, big plays called back…But our kids are hanging tough.”

But, coach, how tough are you hanging when you get destroyed by 32 points?

“Our guys will be disappointed, but we have a lot of faith in them,” he told reporters.

Disappointed? They should be freaking mad. And so should you, coach.

“They go back to work and get as good as we can,” he replied with a shrug. “We can’t lose sight of the fact that it’s September.”

You’ve had eight months to prepare for the biggest game of your season. There’s nothing that can possibly happen in October or November that will make up for the egg you just laid here in September.

Wait a second, I thought. Hollywood’s just a few miles away. There were all those celebrities crowding the sidelines. I get it!

Ohio State must have planted a Jim Tressel look-alike for the press conference.

Midwesterners like to give the impression that they are mild-mannered, polite, not easily rattled. So, this is just some actor impersonating Tressel.

I mean, the real coach Tressel has to be back there in the visitors’ locker room kicking butt.

He’s got to be pounding on locker doors, throwing towels, slamming helmets. I know he has to be mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore.

He’s pounding his chest and calling his players a bunch of quitters. He’s yelling at the top of his lungs that they didn’t give enough of themselves, that they didn’t leave everything they had out on that field.

His face is beet red, and he’s screaming, “First Florida, then LSU, and now…now this!”

He turns to every one of his assistant coaches and gets in their faces. “I’m sick and tired of the same old, same old! From now on, it’s going to be different. From now on, we’re going to change the face of Buckeye football! You understand?”

“Sheez, coach,” one of them says, taken aback, “Have faith. It’s only September.”

Without another word, coach Tressel snatches a helmet off the bench and rares back. The other coaches reach out and latch onto his arms before he can swing it.

Now that has to be the real Jim Tressel. I mean, I know he’s no Woody Hayes. But down deep, if he truly bleeds scarlet and grey, he’s got to be madder than hell. He’s got to fire up these kids and his coaching staff.

But there’s this impostor at the press conference, calmly shrugging and saying, “We were never able to take control on offense or defense. We must now roll up our sleeves and realize we can’t play like this and win.”

Actually, the real truth of the matter is…you can’t coach like this and win.

You can keep the tie, you can keep the sweater-vest, but lose the demeanor.

Show some emotion, coach. Show what you really care about is winning not “hanging tough.”