Jim Tressel has built quite the football empire. He is poised to win another national championship, his second in Division I. No program, not USC, not Texas, not Florida, no school, loses talent to the NFL like Ohio State, only to quickly re-inject more sturdy muscle and DNA back into the fold.
|What he does on the sidelines is all that seems to concern people regarding Jim Tressel. (AP)|
It is not, however, what impresses me the most about Tressel.
What is most stunning about Tressel is his ability to maneuver through the sordid world of college football. To survive, despite scandals during his tenure at Ohio State and Youngstown State, and emerge completely, thoroughly and unequivocally untouched and unblemished by those troubles.
The hollow point bullets of scandal that sink other mere mortal coaches, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse -- drugs, grade fixing, drunken driving arrests and domestic violence -- deflect off of that Tressel Teflon sweater vest as if Tressel were composed not of sinew and bone but of some impenetrable metallic substance.
He is a perfect example of how winning can armor a coach from anything.
• A University of Miami player spits on a sidewalk, and the media portrays it as a crime against humanity, as well as an indictment on the entire Hurricanes program.
• Reggie Bush's off-campus housing shell game led to speculation about the possibility of Pete Carroll losing control of the USC program.
• Phil Fulmer, Coach Bail Bondsman himself, has witnessed his reputation soiled by having an army of Volunteers gracing various pokies.
But Maurice Clarett admits to taking money and cars while at Ohio State, and none of that mess seemed to stagger Sir Teflon. If Clarett had played for almost any other program as he continued his frog walk through the judicial system, packing machine guns and hard liquor, it would have been seen as a referendum on that school's lack of control of its players.
Instead, the bullets fly in Columbus, and Tressel never gets hit. The guy next to Tressel is full of holes. But the sweater vest never needs dry cleaning.
The problems at other schools are meticulously detailed by the media, but in Columbus, no investigative teams are formed, and nationally, there is collective amnesia.