|How will The Horseshoe treat Jim Tressel this week? (US Presswire)|
Jim Tressel will return to Columbus this weekend for a reunion of the 2002 Ohio State team that won a national championship. Coincidentally, he'll be watching another undefeated Ohio State team that isn't eligible for another national championship thanks in large part to the actions -- or lack of action -- of Tressel.
So is there any chance that Ohio State fans will take out any frustrations they might have on Tressel when he appears Saturday? A few of his former players told the Cleveland Plain Dealer they don't think so.
"Honestly, I feel like the fans never really lost their love for coach Tressel, because of the stuff that he did and the kind of guy that he was,” senior safety Orhian Johnson told the paper. “I know that I never did. All I can think of is guys going out there and praising him for what he did. I don't have any animosity toward coach Tressel in any way, shape or form.”
Then there were the thoughts of athletic director Gene Smith, which didn't sound nearly as confident.
"Some people will embrace it, some people will not,” Smith said. “Some people will feel it's awkward, some people will not. I'm not going to feel it's awkward because I'm realistic -- he was part of that team. And I know what he means to those players, and that's what I focus on. If Mike Doss and those guys want him there, they should have him there. And I know that's a different view from what a lot of other people feel, and I understand that.”
Hedge your bets much, Gene?
Honestly, while there might be a few boos here and there, I really don't think Ohio State fans are going to let any possible bad feelings for Tressel overshadow how much they appreciate the 2002 team. Nor should they.
The way Tressel left Ohio State was not ideal, but what he accomplished while there is far too great to be spoiled by it.