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Jim Tressel: A master of mindless coachspeak

Andy Gottesman / Lantern photographer

When I, you know, write a column, it, like, comes after a long week of practice and hard work and preparation and dedication and, although sometimes it just flows from my, you know, fingers, sometimes it really takes some time and hard work and preparation and hopefully that translates into a good column when it’s all, like, said and, um, done.

Of those 61 words, how many mattered?

I could have condensed that mammoth sentence into 10 words and it would have sent the same, mundane message: Practice makes perfect.

So go the speaking mannerisms of coaches, who take pleasure in prattling on about practice and going off on tangents completely unrelated to the question posed.

If coachspeak is a science, Jim Tressel is chief chemist, with the way he mixes together trivial, inconsequential words and phrases to form hourlong diatribes that fail to answer the original question.

During his weekly press conference Oct. 26, Tressel fielded a question from a reporter who asked if he was disappointed in the team’s first two road game performances.

“We’ve played two pretty good teams on the road, so I don’t know if I’d use ‘disappointed.’ Do we need to play better? Yes, absolutely. We’ve especially got to make sure we understand we’ve got to do even better in the special teams on the road, but, no, I haven’t looked at our two trips and said, ‘Oh, gee, I don’t think they were focused,’ or ‘I don’t think they understood’ or ‘They let the crowd get to them’ or nothing like that, but do we need to execute better? You know, for sure.

And we’ve had the good fortune, and maybe it’s a negative that we had all the home games, I doubt it, but do we need to play better on the road? Absolutely. It’s hard to win on the road. And do we thoroughly understand that? You’d think we would at this point, but we’ll find out when we take the road again.”

In summary: Is he disappointed? Not really.

But in that 156-word discourse, Tressel asked himself four rhetorical questions. And he never directly answered the question, scoffing at the notion of disappointment while declaring that his team needed to play better.

Not a contradiction, merely covering both sides of the equation to cloud the significance of his (lack of a) point.

Look, Tressel’s a great guy and a successful coach. But if there’s one pet peeve for a journalist, it’s long-winded answers that bear little fruit. And the Senator has mastered the craft of providing such.

As Columbus Dispatch columnist Rob Oller pointed out recently, it’s probably more worthwhile to retrieve a five-second answer with no point than a five-minute response with no nuts or bolts.

It’s most reporters’ dream to cover a coach with the mouth or attitude of a Rex Ryan or Mike Gundy, guys who spew gold like it’s going out of style.

Tressel filters in his even-keeled sense of humor and dry wit here and there, but it isn’t enough to make up for the tireless monologues.

If you’re going to waste our time, do it quickly. There’s only so much a coach can say about practice and preparation.

To make a long story short: Get to the point, Jim.

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