Thus far, the speculation about Jim Tressel’s future centers on football, but the former Ohio State University head football coach would certainly be a formidable candidate if he chose to run next year in the Ohio Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
Tressel, former football coach at Youngstown State University, has greater name recognition than either of the two prospective candidates for the GOP nomination, state Treasurer Josh Mandel and former Treasurer and Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. Mandel won the treasurer’s job last November in the Republican sweep, but Blackwell was slaughtered in the 2006 general election for governor by Democrat Ted Strickland.
Tressel, who amassed an impressive record at Ohio State, just as he did at YSU, has left under a cloud, but beyond college football circles, what he did does not rise to political high crimes and misdemeanors. Most Ohioans probably would be willing to buy the excuse that he was just trying to protect his players by making sure their football careers weren’t short circuited because they sold their personal Ohio State football paraphernalia for tattoos. And most Ohioans aren’t surprised when the rules pertaining to college football, or any sport for that matter, are broken.
In politics, Tressel would be a natural. He’s a gifted speaker, he knows the state of Ohio well and would have little trouble raising money. And although Mandel and Blackwell have all but announced their candidacies, Republicans in Ohio have yet to get excited about the race next year in which the state’s leading Democratic officeholder, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, will be seeking reelection.
Having Jim Tressel on the campaign trail would certainly add a spark to the race.