As news spread Monday about the resignation of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, Ohio residents had mixed reactions.
Mansfield resident Russ Kinsey called Tressel, who compiled a 106-22 record in 10 seasons at the university and won the 2002 BCS national title game against Miami, “an honorable, Christian man” in the Mansfield News Journal.
“He tried to protect [his players] as a parent would their own children,” Kinsey said. “Consequently, he had to lie to do so. I think some of his players took advantage of Tressel and in turn it cost Tressel his job.”
Bill Livingston, who writes for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, pointed out that Tressel wrote a book called The Winners Manual: For the Game of Life, released by Tyndale in 2009.
“Nowhere in it does Tressel suggest that withholding information on player wrongdoing from superiors, lying to the NCAA in writing, and knowingly playing ineligible players are behaviors worthy to be emulated,” Livingston said in his column.
Earlier this year, Tyndale also released a gift book by Tressel called, Life Promises for Success: Promises from God on Achieving Your Best.
Tressel has been under mounting pressure for months.
Ohio State suspended him for two games and fined him $250,000 and then increased it to five games at his own request for knowing some of his players received “improper benefits” for selling memorabilia to a tattoo parlor and not reporting it to the university or the NCAA.
He denied knowing about the improper benefits until NCAA investigators confronted him with emails. At that point, he had little choice but to admit he withheld information.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor, tailback Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, left tackle Mike Adams and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas have been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for their role in accepting improper benefits. But the situation at the university could get even worse.
The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that the NCAA and OSU are investigating whether Pryor may have received benefits involving a car. They are also investigating 50 car purchases by Buckeyes players, families and friends.
Gene Smith, Ohio State associate vice president and director of athletics, released a video statement Monday about Tressel’s resignation.
“As you all know, we are under NCAA investigation,” Smith said. “We will not discuss any of the matters around that case, any further accusations that may emerge. We will do what we always do. We will respond to them, we will collaborate with the NCAA and try to find the truth.
“I do want to thank Coach Tressel for his long service to our university. There were a lot of people that he touched in a highly positive way. We were very thankful for his leadership during the years that we had great success on the field and off the field but more importantly in the classroom.”
Luke Fickell, who was an assistant under Tressel, will be the interim coach at Ohio State for the 2011 season.