"I'm not sure I've ever talked or guided our kids with the idea that I've done everything perfectly, whether it be recently or a long time ago," the 11th-year head coach of the Buckeyes said Wednesday in a pre-spring football press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. "I've never looked at myself that way. Some of us are parents in here. We talk to our kids about doing the right things. Some of us haven't done everything perfectly, but we still have that responsibility to do that."
He did lament letting down those who looked up to him as an example of the way to do things with integrity.
"The toughest regrets you have are when you disappoint," Tressel said. "I'm sure it can resonate with you when you disappoint as a parent. That's tough. I suppose when you've had the good fortune to have opportunities to be in leadership roles and you disappoint, that's even harder. I think you have to go about things one day at a time and you have to go and not be afraid to say that there's things I need to do better whether it be specific to this moment or any other moment and get better every day."
Beyond that, however, he seemed to have little concern about what the lasting effect on his legacy will be.
"Gosh, I don't know," he said when asked if this incident would leave him with a permanent negative stigma attached to his career. "I go day to day and you just try to do the best that you can possibly do. I'm sure there's a varied stigma that anyone has about anyone. I'm sure there will be a variety of opinions about how I do my job or how any of you do your job. What's most important is we work as hard to do our jobs as well as we can.
"I don't know if there's a universal standard to how anyone is evaluated by the evaluators," Tressel said later. "I suppose there could be some that might feel that way and there may be others that might not, but I don't have a whole lot of control over that. What I've got to do a good job of is the things that I can control and I can improve upon."
The coach certainly has plenty of people in his corner, including former players such as Cameron Heyward.
The defensive lineman is just one of several graduating seniors who has expressed support for Tressel while working out in Columbus in preparation for the NFL draft.
"I shot him a text and said I appreciate all you've done for me and I love you," Heyward said. "A lot of people are bad-mouthing him, but I don't think they know the real Tress. He's a man of great faith and he's helped me in every way possible. The thing I said to him mostly was everybody deals with adversity but it's the way you deal with it and handle it and respond from it. I think he'll do a great job."