23.11.08

Day 81. The Coaching One.

Saturday marks the end of the Ohio State regular football season with the annual tradition of the Ohio State - Michigan game. This year lacks some of the hype, but its still a big deal to me. I've been a Buckeye fan since birth - and the mystique of the OSU-Michigan game has been laid deep in me. I am one of those fans who truly doesn't care if we lose every game in a season...as long as we beat Michigan. I'm also one of those fans who's been around long enough to remember when Ohio State was "just another college football team". We weren't the power house that we are now, we weren't despised by half the country, we didn't have all the media attention, underhanded money changing hands, kids abandoning school just to play in the NFL...I grew up in these days of football tradition, sport and sheer fun.

So, today, on the last day of the season, I'd like to give a shout out to our coach Jim Tressel. Jim became head coach in 2001 and we had lived through a weird time - the "John Cooper" years where we arguably became this "powerhouse" churning out top NFL players, but we never beat Michigan and we became a "program" not a "sport".  Tressel has done his best to return our team to the tradition of years past. He's brought a renewed focus on the spirit of the game and the rewards of being part of a team...the first thing he did was make every player on the team learn EVERYONE else's name. He delivers a handbook each year that focuses on being a complete young man, not just a super athlete with excellent draft prospects. And he gets it when it comes to the Michigan game.

I've seen him interact with players and fans (both of football and other sports) and his character always shines through. A friend of mine who works with Tressel talks about his never waning respect for everyone and their time and his constant courtesy. 

Now, I'm not stupid, I know that we are a big program now at OSU. We're one of the top two richest athletic departments in the country now. I know there is shady stuff going on, at a lot of levels. I also believe that no one man (or woman) can ever be accountable for all of it...and sometimes, I'm sure, Tressel is part of the machine just like everyone else. And he knows that too. 

But from a simple, long-time fan who just enjoys the game and cheering for her team, I am so thankful for Tressel and the tiny bit of nostalgia he brings to me of when it was still just a game and fans just wanted to support their team and athletics was part of the journey to becoming a great person. 

p.s. Tress improved his record against Michigan today...so right there I have to like him even more! :)

1 comment:

Mommymadonna said...

I still have nothing to say. LOL