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OSU Ph.D. candidate replaces Jim Tressel in coaching class

Football class at OSU. This class was previously taught by former head coach Jim Tressel.

Previously, one of the hardest classes to get into at Ohio State was taught by former head coach Jim Tressel, Coaching : Football.

This year, because of Tressel’s departure from the university, Vincent Lyons is the new instructor of the class. Unlike Tressel, Lyons has never coached at the collegiate level.

Lyons is a graduate teaching assistant at OSU and Ph.D. candidate for sports management from Cardington, Ohio. He graduated from OSU in 1997 with a Bachelor’s Degree in agricultural education and animal science.

When Tressel resigned, Lyons was offered the post at the last minute. Lyons said he did feel pressure taking Tressel’s teaching post, but said the pressure to do well doesn’t come from higher up, it comes from his students.

Lyons said he isn’t trying to fill Tressel’s shoes.

“I’m not in there wearing a sweater vest,” he said.

There are about half the amount of people enrolled now compared to the first day of class, but Lyons is trying not to take it personally.

“I am not Tressel or a well-known name, once students found that out, they were dropping like flies,” Lyons said. “There have been up to 150 to 200 people enrolled in other years, now we are down to around 40.”

Lyons encouraged students to remain enrolled if they are interested in football.

“If you want to know the ins and outs of football – stay in the class,” Lyons said.

Evan Cadwallader, a fourth-year in biology, took the class to learn about coaching philosophy.

“I don’t want to throw him under the bus, but I took the class because Tressel was supposed to teach,” Cadwallader said. “I stuck with it because it’s still a fun class. I’d like to eventually coach basketball.”

Justine Boggs, a third-year in journalism, is one of two girls in the class. She said that she originally signed up for the class because of Tressel, but has stayed because she wants to be a sideline reporter for ESPN football in the future.

“I want to be able to ask intelligent questions on the field. I don’t just want to be a pretty face reporter,” Boggs said. “I like the class and I don’t feel left out because I have never played. Coach Lyons gives great examples and doesn’t ever single me out.”

Lyons began his teaching career after attending seminary at Trinity Lutheran in Bexley, Ohio, right after graduating OSU.

“I thought I wanted to be a pastor. I wanted to serve people in a church setting; I have always felt an obvious concern for other people,” Lyons said.

Lyons wears a Virgin Mary pendant, which he describes as a distinction between sports and religion, a Catholic-faith influence.

“It represents the things that I stand for,” Lyons said. “I wear it every day as a constant reminder of my values when I stand in front of people.”

Lyons started out teaching and coaching at St. Brendan School in Hilliard, Ohio, for one year. He then spent four years at Wellington High School in Upper Arlington, Ohio, followed by three years at St. Louis Chaminade College Preparatory, an all-boys Catholic prep school in St. Louis, Mo.

He taught biology, and a few physics and forensic classes as well as coaching basketball, baseball and football at all three schools.

Lyons said one of his proudest coaching moments was winning a Class 5 state basketball championship in 2008 at Chaminade.

In his first years of coaching, losing was one of the biggest challenges Lyons said he faced.

“I lost a lot early in my career, in all three sports. When you’re not accustomed to losing, it really takes a toll mentally and physically,” Lyons said.

In addition to teaching his high school players the philosophy of “team-above-self,” Lyons said he also struggled to keep coaching out of the classroom.

“I would be talking football to my players in biology class,” he said. “I had a hard time separating the two aspects.”

When it comes to teaching the class at OSU, Lyons said he is excited and energetic about making football simpler to understand.

“My favorite part is not dumbing down the game, but breaking it down,” he said.

Lyons described the game of football as a chess match with the other team and said his class is all about teaching students how to win that chess match.

“You can’t just have great athletes; you have to know how to call plays,” Lyons said.

Lyons did admit his least favorite part about the 48 minute class is the 7:30 a.m. start.

“This is the time the class has been at since 1960. It was the most conducive time for the head coach’s schedule,” he said.

Lyons thinks most of the kids in his class are interested in coaching, and that some even have coaching positions already.

“It’s not one of those classes you take for credits, it’s not required,” he said. “Everyone who is in there wants to be there.”

Lyons offers advice to all his students and those who want to coach.

“Seek coaching opportunities at all levels, it’s how you will get jobs,” Lyons said. “If it is your goal, hope, or dream, go after it with all your might no matter what you are pursuing.”

Lyons said he hopes to continue working with OSU in the future.

“I would love for OSU to offer me a full-time faculty position when I graduate,” he said. “I love this place, it is a part of my family and bone and tissue. All my son talks about is OSU, he is 3 years old and I want him to have OSU as part of his childhood and then go to school here. OSU has been good to me.”

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