Reflections on the Coach Tressel luncheon

As a guest of Mr. Bucknuts for the Spring Luncheon yesterday, here are a few of the items I noticed...


Tradition is what truly separates the men from the boys and the contenders from the pretenders in college football. Do you truly have a legendary program, or are you a one-coach wonder? Are your fans delusional braggarts, or are they merely confident of what their favorite team has accomplished – knowing that the record books back up their words? Will the program hit the skids and slide off into the Siberia of the football world after the current coach leaves, or is the program capable of surviving even a sub-.500 coach to rebound and win national titles again?

Ohio State has so much tradition that it would make most coaches and fans green with envy. If you are a Buckeye fan and have never been to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, then you absolutely must make the pilgrimage to the Mecca of your sports world. Walking through the doors of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, one is smacked upside the head with the force of a Jamar Martin block by the sheer magnitude of the Ohio State football excellence over the past 90 years. Straight in front of any visitor sit the SIX Heisman trophies. Above them on 3 sides of the room loom gargantuan pictures of Buckeye greats. Meanwhile, on either side of the Heismans are display cases housing trophies such as the two national titles (1968 and 2002), Pace's two Lombardi awards, the Outlands of Parker and Pace, Eddie George's Doak Walker, Antoine Winfield's Thorpe, Bentley's Rimington, plaques for college football academic Hall of Famers from OSU, recognition of Mike Lanese for becoming a Rhodes Scholar, and numerous awards handed out to Coach Hayes (the Zuppke, Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, Football Writers Association of America recognition of Woody as 1968 coach of the year, the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award)…

Bear in mind that this is just what you see in the foyer of the building. Peer around the corner and the trophies, plaques, and pictures of great players past and present seem to multiply like locusts. A short hallway (relatively speaking) displays Ohio State winners of the Silver Football Award for being named the MVP of the Big Ten Conference. It starts with Wesley Fesler in 1930 and carries on through until Joe Germaine in 1998. Sprinkled in between are names like Byers, Cornelius Greene, Ollie Cline, etc. Come to the end of the hall and turn left, and there sits a small alcove of sorts with pictures all of the Ohio State coaches past and present (excluding one for whom no photograph is available). Legendary men like Paul Brown, Howard Jones, and W. W. Hayes stare out at those gawking at them.

It is when fans finish looking at the pictures of the coaches and turn around that they cannot fail to be impressed. They are confronted with a hall seemingly longer than the one Dorothy and her companions walked to see the Wizard of OZ. Upon both walls all the way down are pictures of Buckeye All Americans, still more trophies, still more plaques, etc. On the left are national title trophies and individual awards in display cases. On the right are championship teams dating back to Chic Harley and the 1916 Buckeye squad that allowed only 6 points for the entire season (talk about a stingy defense). National title teams, Academic All Americans – they are all here.

It is no exaggeration when I say that if the Buckeyes continue their winning ways; in no time flat, they will run out of room.

The reality is that every program has a few trophies here and there if they have played football for more than a decade. Many can boast of a national title or even two or three. Most have had at least a couple of All Americans. It is not even unusual to see a school with a Heisman in their athletic center.

It is the sheer number of such trophies and awards that makes Ohio State part of the elite in College Football. Watching on television and even going to games year after year where players and teams garner awards, it is easy to lose track of just how often they win and how often they have been recognized for their achievements. One trip to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center will permanently cure such a condition...

Kudos to John and Helen Cooper

If you want to see a positive, newsworthy story – look no further.

When a program already has a plethora of rich traditions, it is difficult to leave a lasting mark without reaching. By starting the Spring Luncheon to benefit the Alzheimer's Association, the Coopers have created a meaningful legacy. As Dave Biddle mentioned, the amount of money raised up to 2002 was around $800,000, but it is expected to top the $1,000,000 mark with yesterday's receipts added to the total.

It is difficult to quantify just what that truly means and almost impossible to overstate the importance of finding a cure for this dreaded medical condition. This is a disease that is no respecter of persons. It strikes down men and women whose bodies are hale and hearty in all other respects. It collectively robs a society of their most valuable and wisest advisors because these men and women have already traveled the paths that the young seek to tread upon. It is a disease that ravages the dignity of even the most distinguished and makes the sharpened intellect dull and useless. This ailment breaks the hearts of those who are forced to sit idly by and witness a tragic loss – not simply death but a loss of life. Alzheimer's is in many ways a fate worse than death; it is a living death. The memories of a lifetime forgotten, the people it has preyed upon become prisoners within their own minds and bodies. Its effects are quite simply brutal and quite frankly disturbing just to contemplate.

Because of this dinner started by the Cooper family, researchers are $1,000,000 closer to a cure.

Think about that for a moment.

John Cooper, Jim Tressel, Earle Bruce, the current coaching staff, the players who give of their time, and the volunteers who help organize the event all deserve a sincere congratulations for their efforts.

Tressel, the Players, and the Coaching Staff…

A Spring Preview would not be much of an event without comments from those in the Football Program. Here are a few quick hitters:

- Coach Tressel is indeed as fine a speaker as reputed. What sets him apart are his innate feel for his audience, his rapport with the listeners (helped by his diction and eye contact), and his ability to improvise with apt answers. Case in point was a question posed to him regarding any advice he might have for local business leaders. Tressel thought for a moment and replied that the success of Ohio State is because of the people that work there and any business leader would do well to consider surrounding themselves with quality individuals.

- Tressel took a playful jab at Ben Hartsock that had everyone chuckling. Set to be wed this summer, and Coach Tressel wanted to ask Ben a question of his own. He wanted to know how this impending marriage would effect the preparation of his tight end. Hartsock assured all present (but most of all his coach) that aside from adding a few pounds from the food on the honeymoon and a change of address, he would be working hard to improve.

- Jim Bollman looks to be a perfect ringer for a Saturday Night Live skit on ‘Da Bears. He has that direct, no-nonsense sort of look that was mastered by the coaches of yesteryear. For those who yearn for pit-bull coaches who will draw a line in the sand and match up their big men against someone else's big men to see who is king of the playground, Bollman looks to be the dream coach to lead the charge.

- Jack Park is amazing. The man not only wrote an encyclopedia, he is an encyclopedia of Ohio State football.

- Jim Tressel paid Coach Bruce a tremendous compliment. In a day when a handshake and a man's word cannot be trusted, Tressel stated about Bruce, "There is not a dishonest bone in his body." Too bad more folks are not like Earle in this regard because it would make this world a far, far better place in which to live.


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