Jay Minton's not sure he'll stop with the shirt and tie.
"I should put some powder in my hair to make it look a little gray like his," said Minton, the head football coach at
Wayne (Huber Heights, Ohio)
. "That guy did so much for football and high school coaches in Ohio and all around the country. People won't ever understand just how much he did (for this sport)."That guy
is Jim Tressel.
The former Ohio State head coach was inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame on July 8 and four days later the organization announced it wasn't done honoring the five-time national champion. Through an initiative suggested by Solon (Ohio)
head coach Jim McQuaide, the OHSFCA has recommended that its membership honor Tressel the first week of the regular season by wearing a white shirt and tie on the sideline.
It's up to each coach as to whether or not they participate.
Expect involvement to be high.
"I've heard positive feedback from coaches concerning the tribute," Dover (Ohio)
head coach and OHSFCA President Dan Ifft said. "During his tenure at OSU, Coach Tressel did a great deal to promote Ohio high school football and in particular high school coaches. Not many college head coaches would have gone through such efforts to make the high school coaches of their state feel so appreciated. We were always respected and encouraged by coach Tressel and his staff."
"I still have the utmost respect for Coach Tressel," Centerville (Ohio)
head coach Ron Ullery said. "I think it's a great idea."
When Tressel originally resigned from his post at Ohio State, perhaps no group in Ohio – other than Buckeye players – was as vocal in their support or as devastated by the news as Ohio's stable of high school coaches.
Over the course of his tenure, Tressel was influential in helping the OHSFCA build its clinic by supporting the invitations of fellow college coaches – both regional and out-of-state – as speakers. Unlike his predecessor, John Cooper, who wanted to keep rival college recruiters out of Ohio, Tressel embraced competition for in-state kids and as one coach put it, "knew he couldn't recruit every kid in Ohio."
On a national level, Tressel did as much as anyone to promote the quality and depth of high school football players and programs in Ohio.
There are however those that feel any tribute to Tressel teaches the wrong lessons. The message boards at JJHuddle.com have blown up with opponents of the move slamming the OHSFCA’s decision.
Despite a 10-year stay at Ohio State that produced 106 wins, eight BCS bowls, seven Big Ten titles and nine wins over Michigan, Tressel resigned May 30 following an investigation into NCAA violations by several players and his inability to properly report what he knew.
The NCAA has accused Tressel of withholding information and lying. Ohio State, which has since issued self-imposed penalties (vacated the 2010 season including its share of the Big Ten championship and Sugar Bowl victory and issued a two-year probation period), will go before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions on Aug. 12.
More retribution could come OSU’s way.
“I think (the recommendation) takes away from the kids on opening night,” Oakwood (Dayton)
head coach Rick Robertson said. “(I also think it’s) potentially premature as more items leak out. Some community people think we are sanctioning or condoning his involvement. No doubt he has done a great job with high school football – unlike the Cooper era – but I just don't think this is the time or place.”
Other coaches own different views.
"Everything Ohio State has done for us has been up front and first class," Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati)
head coach John Rodenberg said. "I believe that once this (investigation) began, Jim Tressel was doomed to be a scapegoat. He wasn't doing anything that any other college coach does or does not do."
"It will be interesting to see what happens (for this shirt and tie recommendation)," Bishop Hartley (Columbus)
head coach Brad Burchfield said. "In my opinion, Gene Smith and the Ohio State University have done a textbook job of making Coach Tressel 'Public Enemy No. 1.' The media has really vilified coach Tressel to the point, tragically, that mention of him is becoming very polarizing to communities in Ohio. It is a shame, but unfortunately it is reality."
Burchfield himself says it's doubtful he'll participate in the gesture, although that has nothing to do with Tressel. It has to do with the heat.
"I have not decided but will probably not do so, and I don't mean any disrespect to coach Tressel," Burchfield said. "It will be 90 degrees in Amanda (on opening night) and I really want the focus to be on the huge game with Amanda-Clearcreek, not on anything else. That being said, that is in no way a protest against coach Tressel or anything else. I love that guy to death."
He's not alone.
"I don't think Ohio knew what they had while (Tressel) was here," Hilliard Davidson (Ohio)
head coach Brian White said. "I am deeply saddened by his resignation. I have always found him to be honest and forthright in his dealings with high school coaches and recruits."
"He has done so much good for everyone that comes in contact with him, that it really makes the situation tough," Piqua (Ohio)
head coach Bill Nees said. "People always ask me if he's really as caring and sincere as he appears and I always answer ‘Yes, and more.'"
Said Wyoming (Cincinnati)
head coach Bernie Barre: "I believe that he is a man of great character and integrity. He made a mistake that I believe was made with the best interests of his players in mind. I will always be a Jim Tressel supporter."
Ohio's regular season starts the week of Aug. 22.
"Jim Tressel has treated me really well and gone out of his way to do so," said Burchfield, whose team won Ohio's 2010 D-IV state title. "I have and always will appreciate that. He has been a huge influence on me as a coach, and what I hope to be as a person. I played for (Ohio) Hall of Fame coach Bob Stuart in the 1990s. Coach Stuart was a disciple of Woody Hayes, and in many ways I felt like I was being coached by Woody Hayes. I hope that our kids at Hartley (and Centerburg prior to that) understand that they were coached by coach Tressel in some way, because he was such a huge influence on me and our coaching staff.
"Coach Tressel will be irreplaceable to Ohio high school football. What he has done for all of us is immensely appreciated."Eric Frantz is the Managing Editor
of JJHuddle.com and the Publisher of miamivalleysports.com and MVP
Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.