I remember Memorial Day 2011 as if it were only yesterday. I was out in pretty much the middle of nowhere camping. We were getting ready to pack up and head back home and I walked into the camper to put some things away. I looked down and saw my phone and that I had a message. It ended up not just being one text message. It was more like 12 text messages, all from different people, all to tell me the same thing.
Jim Tressel was no longer the coach of The Ohio State Buckeye Football Team.
What? I mean, I knew this wasn’t a hoax as the people involved didn’t all know each other, and I also knew that deep down inside this was what had to happen in the best interest of the team, but I was blown away. I remember I walked out of the camper in a daze and looked at the other half and said “Jim Tressel just resigned” and it felt surreal. On the entire trip back, I just kept sitting there and thinking the same thing over, and over, and over.
“How in the world did this happen?”
Now, any Buckeye fan out there knows the answer to that question as well as I do. The atmosphere in Columbus is one where these kids are treated as Gods. The community, by and large, will bend over backwards to extend that star treatment. When this happens, the sense of entitlement grows. Some kids get out of it unscathed, some do not. Sometimes it takes one to become the “ring leader” and things take off. This would be the case of Terrelle Pryor. His hands were all over this mess. Unfortunately, others that needed the cash went all-in.
When a guy like Tressel is added in the mix, it actually has the ability to get worse. Tress loves his players. There are so many former players of his out there that talk about how Tress didn’t just help them in football, but also helped them to become a man. He also feels such a sense of connection to them that he wanted to protect them. So, the deeds went unreported. This, as we saw, made things worse. Had he just let down that guard and told the NCAA about this from the start he would likely still have his job and the team wouldn’t have gone on the downward spiral that was 2011.
The events flew at us like Angry Birds. Terrelle Pryor reneged on his deal to stick around and entered the supplemental draft. His actions after that, in an effort to avoid an NFL suspension, took out the guy who he claimed to be one of his best friends in DeVier Posey. Posey was missing ten games when all was said and done. Fickell was put at the helm of what was an overall awful situation. A bowl ban, scholarship reduction and probation were all handed down. The team struggled. There was zero swagger on the sidelines. Hardly anyone seemed to care. Finally, The Buckeye Football Team had their first losing season since 1988 and their first seven loss season since 1897. Yes, 1897. That bad of a year had not been seen in over a Century.
Now, as I sit here just a few days over a year from the Tressel
resignation firing retirement, I’ve honestly never been more optimistic about Buckeye Football in my lifetime. Urban Meyer is at the helm and what he has done already has been mind-blowing. 80k+ watched the team in awful weather at the Spring Game. There is no bowl game in the cards, but that’s ok as it will give this still young team a chance to “practice” a new system. How can any Buckeye fan be down about this?
I hope that everyone on this edition of The Buckeye Football Team learns from the mistakes of the past and does not repeat them. I also hope that the positive feelings continue and we don’t have to endure another awful season on and off the field. But most of all, I don’t know if I have ever been prouder to be a Buckeye. It was said when this started that Ohio State was bigger than this and that is playing out, much to the dismay of some media and certainly of other fan bases.
I’m excited for this year, I couldn’t say the same at this point in 2011. In fact, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to say that for a while.