In 1991, sports reporter Bob Hannon profiled Jim Tressel after his YSU football team won a national championship.
Jim Tressel addressed his players after the biggest win in school history; the 1991 National Championship victory over Marshall, giving the program, university and entire Mahoning Valley national exposure. In a profession where success is determined by wins and losses, Jim uses another yardstick to measure his success.
“We’re in a situation where we have tough, competitive kids who are looking to get degrees,” Tressel said. “They are willing to share their time and talent with the community, and that’s what we wanted this program to become.”
Growing up in the Cleveland suburbs, football was a way of life in the Tressel family. Jim’s father was a legendary coach at Baldwin Wallace. In Berea they named a street after him. Jim was the quarterback and captain of the 1974 Baldwin team. The foundation was built early on for Jim to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“He treated us all the same, I mean, you had to earn the right to play,” Tressel said. “You were expected to take your academics very seriously, and I’d like to think that if my son were to play for me, or my daughter, that I would treat he or she the same way.”
His strengths are his attention to detail, organization and 12 to 15-hour work days. Former Ohio State Coach Earl Bruce, who hired Jim as an assistant at Ohio State ten years ago, told us that Jim’s ability to relate to his players is what makes him special.
“He’s fair. He’s firm. He’s friendly,” Bruce said. “He takes his time, and that’s important.”
“It’s a great place to live, I think better than what some of the people who have been living here forever realize. It’s really an outstanding place,” Tressel said. “We’re happy with the schools, happy with the location -it’s close to our families up in Cleveland. Will you be forever? Golly, I don’t know if they’ll even want me forever.”
Tressel is as intense as he is focused, with a tremendous work ethic coupled with devout religious beliefs. When he is at his board drawing up schemes, he is truly in his element.