On the eve of Ohio State football’s season-opening game, former coach Jim Tressel returned to campus Friday as part of OSU’s ROTC Remembrance Park dedication ceremony.

Tressel, and wife, Ellen, donated a monument to Remembrance Park entitled “Traditions Monument.” The words “service,” “tradition,” “academics” and “athletics” were engraved on the monument, as were depictions of a World War I-era soldier, the university seal, a student donning a cap and gown and a football player.

The monument was topped with four Block “O” engravings.

“This (the monument) is something that we’ve been talking about for a long time,” Tressel told The Lantern. “Our young people in the football world, almost every day, we talk to them about the sacrifices that others made so that we could…. go to school and be free and play football.

“We talked for years about the fact that Remembrance Park was on the drawing board and it came out extraordinary.”

The former Buckeyes coach, who wore a scarlet-colored shirt with a Block “O” on the breast pocket at the ceremony, said that the football team will now touch the monument during their procession into Ohio Stadium before home games.

Tressel was forced to resign as OSU coach on May 30 after failing to self-report NCAA violations committed by his players. Tressel also fielded a team with ineligible players throughout the 2010 campaign, which led to the university’s self-imposed vacation of both the season and the 2011 Sugar Bowl victory.

Additionally, four OSU football players — DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, Dan Herron and Solomon Thomas — are suspended for the first five games of this season after selling Buckeye football memorabilia in exchange for improper benefits in the form of tattoos. Linebacker Jordan Whiting received a one-game ban.

On Thursday, OSU announced that Jordan Hall, Travis Howard and Corey Brown had also been issued one-game suspensions.

Tressel told The Lantern that it was good to be back on campus, just feet away from the ‘Shoe, and that he will always consider himself a Buckeye.

“The university has given me opportunities that people only dream of,” he said.

“The Vest” also said he thinks about his former team on a daily basis and wishes the players and coaches well this fall.

“Those are my kids — that’s the way I look at them,” he said. “They’ll be warm tomorrow, but they’ll be fine.”

Tressel declined to confirm to The Lantern that he has been hired by the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts as a gameday consultant, though multiple reports have since confirmed the hiring.

OSU begins its 2011 season Saturday at Ohio Stadium against the Akron Zips while the Colts begin regular season play on Sept. 11 at Reliant Stadium in Houston against the Texans.