facebooktwitterRSS
- Advertisement -
  • Most Commentedmost commented up
  • Most Emailedmost emailed up
  • Popularmost popular up
- Advertisement -
 

« News Home

Is it Tressel again, as YSU and UA square off?



Published: Sun, May 4, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)


Almost 30 years ago, Youngstown State University and the University of Akron dueled for a major hire.

It was for a football coach, and Gerry Faust opted for the Zips.

In those ashes, YSU hired a guy named Jim Tressel.

Faust achieved an unremarkable Zips coaching career through 1994, when he was relieved of coaching tasks and introduced to various campus fundraising duties.

Tressel?

Well, his career arc has been a smidge different. That path winds back through Youngstown on Monday for another YSU job opportunity — university president.

It will be an epic day in his life, and for his supporters and detractors.

Tressel is not like any other applicant. That was demonstrated last week when he interviewed for the same title at his current employer, the University of Akron. The two other UA candidates filled about half the hall for their public presentations. Few empty seats remained when Tressel took the final UA candidate tour Thursday.

And president is not just any other job. It’s hinted even in how his name is presented by the boards, the public relations folks, and even us in media.

“Coach,” “Jim” and “Jimmy” occasionally have been replaced by “James,” which he probably was last called when his birth certificate was officiated.

It’s Shakespearean that YSU and UA face each other again for such a post with a similar name still in play.

That said, the relationship of the campuses is hardly the sandpaper that traditionally grinds, say, Youngstown and Warren or Trumbull and Mahoning. Plus, they both share a desire in dispensing their Kent State shadow. It’s hard to fire from your hill when a mountain blocks your view.

But it is a great script that in 1986, YSU and UA had a significant vacancy and both could have hired the same guy. Each decision wrote a pivotal and permanent college history. And here they are again.

The UA role even begins to congeal the courage needed by the YSU board if it desires to make a positive Tressel decision.

Tress supporters have wanted him for YSU president at past openings. And his local critics were always quick to raise “good ol’ boy” charges. That happened again this time around.

The UA community twice answered Valley concerns of “Who would want a football coach as president?” — once in March when his initial application was announced, and again in April when he became one of three finalists.

There were local concerns, too, of an absence of process — that Tressel would be hired in some back room as was done with other legendary Valley decisions. That fear mounted when 32 leaders put the YSU board in as tight a corner as they could with a March letter seeking Tressel as YSU president.

Tressel answered their effort by encouraging an open process, and he politely submitted his resume as any other candidate — even with local opposition not incurred by other hopefuls.

I’ve been fine with a Tressel candidacy from the start — initially for the principle, then eventually, for the person.

I’m not from a prescribed or preordained background, but from one of performance; more life smart than learned smart. So I’ll admit to a bias for those of the same.

I also have a disdain — it could be called a chip — for decisions that blindly hold onto prescriptions and preordinations even as they crash against practicality and reality.

I never believed that a school president needed to have a doctorate and felt that those holding onto such beliefs were simply hiding behind paper and policy.

Yes — I loved that Willy Wonka gave the factory to Charlie.

But I also admire that a boss for Pepsi was pulled from the camera industry, and for General Motors from phones, and for Ford from planes, and for NBC from electric — to name a few.

To be sure, such radical decisions can fail, too. In answering how such radical decisions fail, I think that’s where Tressel’s candidacy is at its best.

Great and smart people are all around us. It’s easy to spot them when their company or community or children are at their best, and that’s when they want to be spotted.

But can you spot them when their prideful pillars are at their worst?

At his best, Tressel has shown the ability to build, unite and succeed in an industry and arena as demanding and contested as American culture can create. And of special interest given the current YSU presidential gap, he’s shown to stay loyal and invest in his decisions for the long term.

Also, specifically to YSU’s current state, he has another ability no doctorate or resume can achieve.

Each of the last three YSU presidents has had issues with how the board ran itself and them. Of all the campus issues that need to be managed and led — funding, academics, unions, athletics, etc. — the board poses to be the most formidable. Its critics might outnumber those of the past three presidents combined.

Tressel — in skill and in the community clout he can muster — might be better for the board and the campus than any other candidate. The others might have skill. But the clout they’d need will take several years, and by then, their resumes will be back in play.

As for worst, the world had a chance to see him at as challenging a point a person on such a perch can find. We should get a chance to see all candidates at such points.

The military finds its best while putting them through the worst conditions.

Many have viewed Tressel’s misdeed as not to the soulless depths of others of Valley note. He protected kids and tried to provide for them amid a system that financially enriches thousands on the backs of hundreds. Supporters say he tried to independently manage and massage a flawed system that is now facing a full assault from Northwestern University athletes and others to much national acclaim.

So Monday puts YSU and the community in a situation with UA that was experienced before some 30 years ago.

What was the decision before, and how did that go for each campus and community?

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com. Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.


Comments

1papa1(648 comments)posted 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Protected the kids? Give me a break. Give me ten minutes Franco and I will convince you that the earth is flat

Suggest removal:

2papa1(648 comments)posted 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Protected the kids? Give me a break. Give me ten minutes Franco and I will convince you that the earth is flat

Suggest removal:

3ysuforever(56 comments)posted 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Jim Tressel truly cares truly about young people.When my daughter was at YSU as a scholarship athlete on a minor sport and Tressel was AD she was amazed at how he knew the names of the students and would ask them about their grades and other academic aspects of their experience.I know he will be a hands on president who will promote and protect the students.When I was at YSU I don't think that I ever even saw Pugsley or Coffelt

Suggest removal:

4mattmcd31(3 comments)posted 3 months, 3 weeks ago

So why does everyone so conveniently forget that Tressel has a track record of not following or caring about the rules or the kids? He left YSU under NCAA sanctions when he went to OSU, and I think we all know the disaster he left at Ohio St and how he completely threw Clarett under the bus. So what qualifies him to be YSU president?

Suggest removal:

5Erplane(482 comments)posted 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Great research into the past, Todd.

I want to give Tressel benefit of the doubt. What I'd like to see is him really explaining why he did what he did. I suspect he couldnt go public with his thoughts b/c the universities would get in more trouble, and the high and mightly NCAA league office would get more punitive.

He should have obeyed the rules, even when we disagree with them. We all have to. But he would be a good leader (and I'd like to see Dean Abraham as the Provost).

Suggest removal:

6Chessiedad(186 comments)posted 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Mr. Franko, how dare you compare the underhanded, deceitful, and dishonest deeds of Tressel, during his tenure at OSU, to the honorable and dedicated service of our countrys military servicemen and women. Those men and women put their lives on the line, to protect the citizens of this country, leaving their families and loved ones behind. What Tressel did was only out of greed to glorify his own record, so that he could line his pockets, come contract time. It's very sad to see so many people come up with every kind of excuse for Tressels behavior, when clearly the facts show otherwise. "Protect the kids"...please. If he wanted to protect the "kids", once he was made aware of his "kids" actions, he should have immediately come forward with his plan of discipline and suspensions. That would have been the right, just and honorable thing to do, and hopefully his "kids" would realize that lesson, for later on in their lives. But we all know that didn't happen!!

Suggest removal:


News
Opinion
Entertainment
Sports
Marketplace
Classifieds
Records
Discussions
Community
Help
Forms
Neighbors

HomeTerms of UsePrivacy StatementAdvertiseStaff DirectoryHelp
© 2014 Vindy.com. All rights reserved. A service of The Vindicator.
107 Vindicator Square. Youngstown, OH 44503

Phone Main: 330.747.1471 • Interactive Advertising: 330.740.2955 • Classified Advertising: 330.746.6565
Sponsored Links: Vindy Wheels | Vindy Jobs | Vindy Homes | Pittsburgh International Airport