Tressel received a hero's welcome when he returned to YSU to deliver the keynote address at Spring Commencement 2001 exercises.
By MARALINE KUBIK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Jim Tressel, who as head football coach led the Youngstown State University football team to four national titles, told the university's spring graduating class that because of YSU he has something in common with each of them: Opportunities and obligations.
Tressel delivered the keynote address during Saturday's commencement ceremony.
"We're both in similar situations," he said. "As we go into a new part of our lives, we should thank Youngstown State for what it's done for us."
Tressel left his position as head football coach at YSU in January to accept a position as head coach at Ohio State University.
"If it weren't for the people at Youngstown State who gave me the opportunity to be a head football coach 15 years ago, I wouldn't be where I am today," he said. He pointed out that each of the 1,021 graduates wouldn't be at the threshold of new opportunities if it weren't for the university.
His advice: To show appreciation for the opportunities YSU has provided, Tressel said that he and each graduate ought to always represent the university well, remember what it has done for them, appreciate it and be there for it. That means keeping in touch with what happens at YSU, making donations and praying for it, he said. Then, he recited a poem he shares with his players:
"I am only one, but I am one.
I can't do everything, but I can do something.
What I can do, I ought to do."
Tressel's address was brief by design. "Short speeches make for long friendships and I certainly want to keep everyone here a friend for a long time," he said.
Asked if he misses YSU, Tressel said, "They [Ohio State] have kept me so busy the only thing I've missed is sleep." However, he said he reflects often on things he learned while coaching at YSU and on the many joyous occasions he experienced in Youngstown; he shares that knowledge with his team at OSU.
Honorary degree: Before giving the keynote address, Tressel was presented with an honorary doctor of humanities degree and was welcomed with thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
YSU's football team won national titles under Tressel in 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1997 and played in postseason games in 10 of the coach's 15 seasons with the YSU Penguins. Last year, YSU finished with a 9-3 record and a berth in the NCAA I-AA playoffs.