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Opinion: Past success makes Jim Tressel perfect fit for NFL coaching scene

Former OSU football coach Jim Tressel waves to the fans during a game against Michigan Nov. 24, 2012, at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 26-21. Lantern file photo

Former OSU football coach Jim Tressel waves to fans during a game against Michigan Nov. 24, 2012, at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 26-21.
Lantern file photo

I know the name Jim Tressel still carries with it a significant amount of controversy around these parts. Almost three years ago, he broke the hearts of Buckeyes everywhere, stepping down as head coach of Ohio State’s football team when it was revealed that he knew about Tattoo-gate. Following his departure, he was hired by the Indianapolis Colts as a replay-review consultant. That gig only lasted for one year during the 2011-12 NFL season. He has since been out of coaching and working at the University of Akron in a non-athletic role.

The coaching carousel that ensued after this past NFL regular season, though, has brought about many rumors surrounding Tressel and the various coaching vacancies throughout the league. Twitter erupted Jan. 3 — ironically the same day OSU was set to play Clemson in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl — proclaiming that Tressel was in line for an interview to become the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. In fact, Wikipedia went so far as to call him the next coach of the Browns Jan. 14. The rumors were quickly shot down, though.

What seemed to have gotten lost in all this speculation, though, is that Tressel could be a valuable asset to any NFL team looking to fill a void. He has done tremendous work with quarterbacks, has head coaching experience and, most importantly, can win games.

The Detroit Lions is the most recent organization to be associated with rumors of potentially hiring Tressel. This time, however, the destination seems like much more of a real possibility.

Last week, the Lions hired Jim Caldwell as their head coach. But Caldwell was the head coach of the Colts during Tressel’s time there, and the ties seem strong between the two. Joe Lombardi was brought on to be Caldwell’s offensive coordinator, but bringing on Tressel as quarterbacks coach could have a positive impact.

This past season, the Lions’ offense was sporadic and very prone to turning the ball over. A staple of Tressel’s teams was discipline and taking care of the football. Lions President Tom Lewand, a University of Michigan graduate, has said he would have no problem adding Tressel to the staff if it would make his team better. He even said that he would tattoo a buckeye on his forehead if Tressel were to help them win.

Looking back to his years at OSU, Tressel had a large part in the process of turning Troy Smith into a Heisman-winning quarterback and the mechanically challenged Terrelle Pryor into a two-time BCS bowl game-winner. Imagine what he could do with Matthew Stafford. I think a duo consisting of Tressel and Stafford would make beautiful music for years in Motown.

No matter where he goes, I’m sure controversy will follow. Even though Tressel lied to cover up the violations his former players committed, at least he has served his penalty.

It seems like Tressel going to the NFL is more of a ‘when’ than an ‘if’ at this point. Either way, I’m sure he will be successful in whatever venture he pursues.


  1. Saw Tressel last night in Cincinnati at a charity event. Still a class guy! Best of luck to him wherever he ends up.

  2. Coach Tressel’s style would never make it in the NFL. He’s an educator and college coach.

  3. As a lifelong Browns fan (albeit getting harder to be), I think the Browns are making a huge mistake by not interviewing Tressel. But I can see how Tressel would want major input into the decisions made by the team, and the current executive staff doesn’t appear to be willing to yield any of their power. The Browns need to get the hiring of head coach right this time around because they may be losing influence in fan base everywhere except maybe Cleveland.

  4. Chuck – do you think Tressel’s personality is strong enough to handle NFL players? He didn’t reign in TP and he’s small time compared with NFL players.

  5. Tressel to the NFL is a big if and I would say if ever. It would have made sense if that was going to happen he would made the jump after his position with the Colts. It’s rare for the pros to pick up people who are not currently active in the ranks somewhere. I could have seen his potential as a position coach but to hire him now to head a franchise no way. He was good at the college level but some of the best from college have flamed out at the next level. And they are only willing to take a chance with current college coaches not those out of the games. Think with your head not your heart

  6. Browns should have hired him. He would have brought a loyal Ohio fanbase with him which neither Ohio team has right now. Detroit not so much because as a Ohio State fan, I wouldn’t support any Michicken team.

  7. Thank God the Browns didn’t hire him. That would smell of desperation. He still has to get wins and I don’t see that in the pros. That fan base won’t last long when that fails to happen. He hasn’t done anything to say he can win at the next level. Tressel has nothing to offer the Pros. There are very few Chip Kellys who have success from college at the next level and he had a hook great offensive schemes. We still don’t know if that is going to last. Saban is a better coach then Tressel and he couldn’t make it work. If he was going to be in the pros he’d be there now. Maybe when his show cause penalty is up he’ll jump back into college coaching. He is a college guy not a pro guy.

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