YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Friday was an exciting day to be a Youngstown State University Penguin as it was announced that former head football coach Jim Tressel will be the university’s ninth president.
Some former football players, some who played under Tressel, were at an annual golf outing when the community was abuzz with the news.
They said they are thrilled he is going to be face of their school and said Tressel’s leadership is going to take YSU to the next level.
“Real excited for the university and the future,” said Jeff Wilkins, who played for Tressel during the team’s heyday of the 1990s.
“With president Tressel coming in, there’s nothing but bright spots in the future for us,” said Ray Briya, president of the YSU Football Alumni Club.
It’s pretty hard to find a former player who is not excited about Jim Tressel coming back to YSU.
“Fundraising side of it, I don’t think you can ask for a better person there. So any time there’s a chance to further the university is a good thing. And I think he’s going to be able to take us to the next level. Now what that level is, I am not sure, Wilkins said.
Former players said Tressel is leader on and off the field and is the kind of guy who cares about you as a student and player. Even players who did not play under Tressel have nothing but good things to say.
Chuck Joseph recounted Friday how shocked he was when the then coach remembered who he was at an event years after they met.
“He walked across the room, put his hand out and said ‘Hi, Chuck. How you doing?’ After two years and he only met me once. That says a lot about a person who takes the time to remember who you are and then in turn make you feel like you’re something special,” Joseph said.
Players said they are more than ready to have Tressel back on campus. Getting used to calling him president instead of coach is going to take some getting used to.
“I may still refer to him as coach, but I would gladly call him president,” said former player Mike McGlone.
Current head football coach Eric Wolford said he has known Tressel for a long time.
“Jim Tressel will bring so many things back to our Valley and right now we need that shot in the arm. We’ve got to get rid of all the negativity and things that are going on. He’s a positive guy, just like myself, so I know lots of positive people around Youngstown State,” Wolford said.
He said Tressel should not pay attention to any negative things being said about him in the community.
“I think there will always be naysayers. There will always be people hiding behind a computer that want to write negative things that maybe don’t even have a job. But at the end of the day, people know that he’s a respectful guy that does things right. He has great leadership skills and he’s been in the big arena,” Wolford said.
And as far as Tressel’s credentials for the president’s job, Wolford said he is not worried.
“Football coaches, we don’t just coach football in the field. We manage 18- to-21-year-old men. We also manage a staff. We do everything from A to Z when it involves life and recruiting. Right now we need to recruit better at Youngstown State. Well how are we going to do that? Well we got to change our perception that we are a great university, that we have great schools, great programs. He understands that, he gets that. So I think it’s a slam dunk,” Wolford said. “We got to get enrollment up. How are we going to do that? We got to recruit. It’s the same as we do in football. It’s not any different. And you got to sell your product. And we have a great place, we have a great university. Everyone needs to be positive about it, what we have going on. We have great people here. Let’s go with it.”