By Dan Hiner
On Jan. 9, Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel was notified of his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame for the class of 2015.
Tressel was told about his induction several days before a formal release was made available to the public. Tressel was honored during the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 12th.
“I got a text to call Steve Hatchel at the National Football Foundation, so I called him and he alerted me,” Tressel said. “The official way they alert you is they send you an autographed ball with painted on it ‘Class of 2015.’ I had a chance to hear from Steve and talk about a lot of the things that will occur over the next year with the class’ recognition.”
Tressel coached at YSU from 1986-2000, compiling 10 winning seasons and six appearances in the Division I-AA National Championship, and winning four championships (1991, 1993, 1994, 1997) during his tenure with the Penguins.
After his stay at YSU, Tressel took the head coaching job at Ohio State University. He coached in Columbus from 2001-2010. During his tenure at OSU, Tressel compiled a 94-21 record and took the Buckeyes to 3 BCS National Championships, including OSU’s National Championship victory over the University of Miami (Florida) in 2003.
“I’m sure it hasn’t sunk in because it was just a couple days ago that I was told that this has gone on, and I think of all the extraordinary people who entered the hall,” Tessel said. “The thought of being in with this class that is coming in is humbling to say the least, and you begin reflecting on all the student athletes that made it possible and all the staffs and all the coaches that gave you jobs.
“I guess really for me the culmination, the fact that my dad is in the Hall of Fame has always been really special to me and to join him is special.”
Lee Tressel, President Tressel’s father, coached at Baldwin Wallace University and was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1996. With President Tressel’s induction, the Tressel family will be the first father-son duo in the Hall of Fame.
“I had been coaching awhile before he was in the Hall of Fame,” President Tressel said. “When he got into the Hall of Fame it was a special time for my family — he was not living unfortunately. I’m sure there were fleeting moments when you have those quiet reflective times that don’t last long and don’t come often that you think ‘gosh, wouldn’t that be cool if that happened.’ If you think too long about that, then chances are it won’t happen because you wouldn’t be doing what you need to do. Obviously that was one of the first things I thought about when the call came. I don’t know how many fathers and sons are in the Hall of Fame, but I’m sure it can’t be many.”
While Tressel is honored to become one of the newest members of the Hall of Fame, he admits that he never thought about it during his coaching career. He attributes his success as a coach to the student athletes and coaches that he worked with throughout the years.
“Because it’s a part of a long body of work — if you will — it holds a great place,” Tressel said. “That’s not why anyone gets into coaching: that someday they will get into the Hall of Fame. It’s a byproduct of a lot of good fortune, a lot of great help, a lot of great staff, great student-athletes, great fans, family and a lot of luck.”