In his first interview since resigning from Ohio State University, former head football coach Jim Tressel talked about a multitude of things with ESPN radio host Tony Rizzo in Cleveland, though he still won't talk about why he resigned in the first place:
"I really can’t talk about anything in terms of our situation because it’s still not resolved. I’m not able to share that thought process with you."
Still, Tressel was open about his future, specifically a future in coaching football. There's no doubt that football runs in this man's blood--he has been going around to NFL training camps and noted that he is grateful for the opportunity to attend high school games, and his competitive juices are obviously still overflowing:
"I will tell you what-- I feel good and when you get a chance to get around and have a chance to be at those training camps like I was fortunate to be able to do over the last couple of weeks, get out to see high school football tonight and tomorrow, and I want to get around and see some of the colleges practice next week so it’s fun to be around it and get your blood flowing. I’m sure that I want that as one of the options but honestly I don’t know what it is exactly I want to do going forward. I’m gonna take a little bit of time and make sure I make a good decision."
Probably the most telling part of his interview was when he was asked if he would change the way he treated Terrelle Pryor. Take a look at what he said:
"Oh no. I think you always have to treat the young people under your care with love and I will never change that. That’s always going to be the way. To me, love conquers all. Would we like to have had some different things occur along the way? Of course. When you’re playing quarterback you make a lot of decisions, when you’re a star on a stage the size of Ohio State you can make some decisions, when you’re a coach at Ohio State you make hundreds of decisions and all of them are not perfect. It still is all about the love and relationship you try to have with kids and I’m excited about his future. I wanted to go over and watch how he progressed, just to see the improvement he made with that focus tells me that he has a chance and I was pleasantly surprised that he was picked in the 3rd round. I was ready for him to be picked closer to the 4th because he was late to training camp and was going to need to serve a five game suspension and so the fact that he was picked in the 3rd round was exciting to me. He gets to have a new start. Just like I preach to the Buckeye fans look forward don’t look backwards. The same thing is true for Terrelle. He’s got to look forward and learn from his past. He can’t dwell on his past. He’s gotta go out and see if he can take care of business there and progress in the National Football League."
To me, it seems like while Jim Tressel would certainly change some things about his last days in Ohio State, he still would protect his players--clearly at any cost. He developed a very special relationship with Terrelle Pryor, and obviously doesn't hold any grudges against him, nor does he feel like Pryor owes him something.
He seems genuinely excited about the future, and Buckeyes fans probably still have no clue what football in Columbus is going to be like without him. Tressel was one of the best head coaches in the nation, and while he wrote a book on leadership and integrity, he's not ignorant enough to believe that even the best leaders in the world have not made mistakes:
"Oh gosh. I think anyone that writes a book doesn’t do it with the preface that they are perfect. If that were the case and only perfect people could write books then there wouldn’t be any books. There are always critics and always people that support you. You know in your own life that what’s important are the people that care about you and are meaningful to you and there’s always going to people that think in a different way. That’s what is beautiful about our country is that you’re allowed to do that. You just try to keep getting better, be the best that you can possibly be, and you only look forward."
And so, Buckeyes fans will look forward. What they are looking forward to is a bit more unclear. This is probably about as wide open a season as we have had in the Big Ten in years, and the addition of Nebraska to the conference makes things even more exciting.
The future has begun for former quarterback Terrelle Pryor in Oakland, and so it has for coach Jim Tressel, who will take his time and make sure that when he starts anew, he can learn from his mistakes just as he hopes Pryor will.