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Time to join the Tressel juggernaut?

Published: Mon, April 28, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

To understand why obviously successful — and seemingly thoughtful — individuals in the Mahoning Valley go weak in the knees whenever they envision Jim Tressel sitting in the president’s office on the campus of Youngstown State University — and are willing to overlook “The Lie” — consider the following note from one of the former football coach’s disciples:

“I have written you once before with all the facts concerning the situation at OSU [Ohio State University] and Jim Tressel.

“I hope that you never have the choice that he had to expose a federal criminal investigation that would put 2 major drug dealers in jail due to ‘Tatoo man’ roll over.

“You just can’t seem to get beyond making Coach Tressel some kind of man with a criminal past. Your lack of research or even giving him a benefit of a doubt amazes me.

“But like Gordon Gee [former president of Ohio State] and Gene Smith [Ohio State athletic director] you throw him under the bus.

“If you ever have young people in your charge and you see what drugs do to their lives, you most probably will never understand.”

The note was from Kenneth Conatser, who served as an assistant football coach under Tressel for more than 20 years.

Sanctify him?

So, there it is. Tressel, the national championship-winning coach when he was at YSU and Ohio State, should be sanctified, not condemned.

And YSU trustees, like their counterparts at the University of Akron, agree. Tressel has made it to the final six for the Youngstown State presidency, and he’s one of three finalists at Akron.

Last week, this writer presented the argument that with YSU’s future hanging in a balance, the institution needs at its helm an academic who has a track record of building a major program virtually from scratch, instead of a former football coach.

Dr. Martin Abraham, dean of the nationally renowned Science, Technology, Engineering and Math College, had applied for the presidency, as he had done last year, but again failed to make it to the final six. Abraham is a finalist for a provost position in another major university, and could well join the legions of high ranking officials who are abandoning Youngstown State.

Tressel’s inclusion in the list of six — there are two other non-academic candidates and three candidates from academia — is an insult to Abraham, who has proven his worth to the university. His departure could be a major setback in establishing YSU as the center for additive manufacturing research and development in the state of Ohio.

Nonetheless, the trustees seem willing to let a valuable member of the university’s academic community leave, but are bending over backwards to keep an ex-football coach with the taint of an NCAA sanction on the short list.

Given that, perhaps it’s instructive to think of Tressel’s fall from grace in terms of the Catholic church’s view of sin. According to church doctrine, there are two kinds: a mortal sin, which will get you a one-way ticket to hell unless you repent by doing major penance; and a venial sin, which can be wiped clean by an Act of Contrition, three Hail Marys and a donation to the church (this last one is optional).


Thus, in the case of Tressel’s lying to the NCAA in the Ohio State football scandal known as Tattoogate, his supporters see it as a minor infraction. Why did the NCAA pick on poor Jim when such violations are commonplace in college football, they ask.

The simple answer is that Tressel signed a document required by the NCAA saying he was not aware of his players violating the collegiate association’s rules, when, in fact, he had in his possession emails from a source saying that some of the players had received free tattoos, cash and other items of value in exchange for Ohio State football memorabilia.

But all that is water under the bridge.

The new and improved Jim Tressel is executive vice president for student success at the University of Akron, and he will be meeting with that university community this week.

This weekend, YSU trustees were scheduled to conduct Skype interviews with the six candidates with the goal of selecting three finalists.

Thus the question: Should we all join the Tressel juggernaut? The answer depends on whether you think “The Lie” is a big deal, or was an act of supreme sacrifice by the former coach.


1kurtw(1829 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

I think the answer to your question is obvious. The trustees should pick the candidate best for the University, best for the students, and best for the community at large. And it isn't Jimbo Tressel. If the community leaders around here weren't so blinded by prejudice and personal loyalty they would see that but, then again, aren't they the same kinds of people who gave us the first Jimbo? I like your endorsement of Dr Abraham- too bad he's out of the running again- twice in a row- no wonder we end up with rejects, we send the good people packing.

By the way, the other day I saw Dr. Garg- YSU BOT head honcho- at one of our local supermarkets. He was in the produce section. I saw him testing lemons for fungus, tomatoes for rot, asparagus for blight- checking for all kinds of vegetable diseases- doing a good job of it for all that I could see (good Proctologist that he is)- and I couldn't help thinking- I hope he and his team mates do as good a job vetting the veggies running for the top YSU job. If it has to be a lemon, I hope it's a healthy one. But I wouldn't count on it.

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2Seriouslee(149 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

I don't agree with the Tressel move either--but Abraham was trying to go from Dean to president which is highly unusual in itself. And I'm not sure he "built" the STEM college from the ground up--all of those departments existed and were simply reorganized under one umbrella.

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3papa1(711 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

those who think tressel was protecting his players involved in tattoogate by not, as required by the ncaa , reporting it, in fact, lying about it, are wrong. tressel had what he thought was a team capable of a run at a national championship and he didn't want them suspended, so he lied. it was a purely selfish act on his part. doesn't this speak to the mans' character and morality??

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4BlueSteel(49 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

To answer your question, Bert: "Emphatically no!"

Tattoogate was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's (and OSU's) back. Let's not forget that tOSU was investigated a total of THREE times by the NCAA, while St. Tressel was at the helm - two of which led to the program being put on probation for 3 years each, March 2006 - March 2009 (Troy Smith $500 handshake) and Dec 2011 – Dec 2014 (Tattoogate) .

What I still can't understand is how nothing came out of the first investigation involving Maurice Clarett. Especially now that we know that Maurice was telling the truth all along, when he blew the whistle to ESPN in 2004. The no-show jobs provided by Dick Tressel, the cars deals that Tressel and his staff provided, the cash for playing video games with boosters kids, the preferential treatment in the classrooms, everything that he said was going on was ABSOLUTELY TRUE. Yet, he was made out to be a liar and a scape goat.

To this day, I believe that St Tressel and Andy Geiger made a deal with the NCAA to roll over on Mo in exchange for them being allowed to keep their National Championship. Think about it, the NCAA investigated tOSU 3 times during St Tressels reign and this is the only one where they didn't find anything and no penalties or probation was levied? They had a first-hand account, a confession, if you will, telling them everything that was going on in the bowels of one of the dirtiest programs this century, and tOSU got off scott free. Meanwhile, Mo took the fall.

This should be the subject for you next editorial, Bert: "The Vindication of Maurice Clarett".

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5questionreality(737 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago


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6DSquared(1788 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Tressel's done more for this Valley than you ever will Bert! I guess all you can do now is throw bombs, huh!

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7kurtw(1829 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

@seriouslee- "Abraham was trying to go from Dean to president which is highly unusual in itself."

Maybe. But don't we have somebody in the White House now who went from "community organizer" to President- with very few steps in between? So, I looked up Abraham and it seems to me he's better qualified- spent many years at YSU learning the ropes- than somebody who reigns as "most powerful man on earth" with almost no qualifications to back him up. And Abraham far outshines an ex-football coach with skeletons rattling away in his closet. In both Obama's and Tressel's case it's wishful thinking triumphing over facts and logic.

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8MD1533(25 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Tressel would do an excellent job and increase YSU's position in standings across America! Tressel's a leader regardless of what he does! Do not sell him short!

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9mrblue(1175 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Is Tressel going to stop the many defections that seem to be happening? I think not. There is something going on at YSU that has not yet come out. Will Tressel stop the slide in enrollment? He will raise money, but that alone will not be enough. With no real credentials, who will do his job? .

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10kurtw(1829 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Mr Blue- " Is Tressel going to stop the many defections that seem to be happening? I think not. There is something going on at YSU that has not yet come out."

Good point. What's happening at YSU is the free market system in operation. Students (and, more importantly, the parents who fund them) are avoiding places like YSU because the product offered them is hugely overpriced in relation to it's actual value. High School graduates now-a-day's want tangible results quickly- they want skills that will prepare them for the job market right away and not what somebody in a tweed jacket sitting in a leather chair decides they should learn first. Of course, the stranglehold of the unions is also a problem driving up prices as is the huge, huge over staffing and featherbedding common in academia- plus salary scales not tied to actual performance. For an example of that, just look at the pay for the top job at YSU- the President pulls in almost a half million a year, which for a CEO of an organization of that size is grossly inflated.

Adam Smith was correct. Enrollment at YSU is declining for the simple reason that it's product is seen as increasingly less desirable. The Free Market System in Operation

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