"You win with people". That quote was made famous by the great Woody Hayes and has become a motto not just for the Ohio State football team, but for the entire university as a whole over the last few decades. The value and meaning that lie within those four words cannot be explained verbally, but rather through actions taken by those representative of everything OSU represents.
The man who may have best integrated the winning with people philosophy better than anyone, including Woody himself, was Jim Tressel. I say "was" and not "is", because after the events that have occurred over the last 4-5 months, a good portion of Buckeye Nation no longer feels that is true. I, for one, disagree with those sentiments and still believe in Jim Tressel. I have had many personal encounters and experiences with the man himself that convince me that one transgression is not enough to make me pull a complete 180 and start to think he is a cheater, liar, phoney, and hypocrite like many have accused him of being since further details of Tatgate have been released.
I have been searching high and low for anything to disprove the national pundits who have continued to bash Tressel time after time. Once a man who only saw a positive light shed his way in published articles, those pieces of work are the rarity nowadays, as writers across the nation have written countless pieces that are not always backed with facts and sometimes include misinformed details. That was, until this gem was produced by Eric Frantz and the staff over at Bucknuts.
In case you're too lazy to read the link in the previous sentence, the story centers around Kent Roosevelt High School OL Ryan Anderson. Anderson was a solid prospect who had offers from Boston College, Indiana, Pittsburgh, North Carolina State, and others. He was in contact with the OSU staff as well and was thought of as a back-up option for the staff to offer should some top-line prospects end up choosing to go to school in places other than Columbus. Off the field he was a good student and all around great kid who loved playing football and would prove to be an excellent young man for any community he became a part of.
If he wasn't going to be a Buckeye, why is he significant you ask? Well, Anderson was recently diagnosed with Osteogenic sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, after having a nagging knee pain looked into further by doctors. As mentioned in the article, Anderson is taking the news as well as a 17 year old could, but his spirits were down a bit after his football future was taken away from him and the uphill battle to beat his cancer lied ahead. The letters from schools across the country would stop and the support he got from his ability on the field would slowly fade as he becamse just another person off the field.
That's where Jim Tressel comes in. Anderson's high school coach, John Nemec, reached out to his long time friend in Jim Bollman and asked if there was anything he could do to help raise Ryan's spirits. Bollman relayed the story onto Jim Tressel and the Senator immediately called the Roosevelt coach, comforting him and telling him to "just go hug Ryan". Shortly after, Anderson received a large envelope in the mail that included over 100 hand-written letter from OSU coaches and players conveying their support to the young man in his forthcoming battle.
In Bucknuts' interview with Nemec, they asked about the impact that those letters had on Ryan and the coach said, "The impact of getting over 100 letters from Ohio State was more meaningful than I think anyone will ever know. It just shows you the quality of leadership that the Ohio State football program has. Ohio State has a coach that gets it. (Tressel) understands.”
Finally, after months of hearing how Jim Tressel is this horrible person that conned the entire country, somebody gets it. How many coaches across the nation would catch wind of this information, quickly reach out to the coach, and shortly after take action in having his entire program send letters of support to someone who realistically had no chance of ever becoming a Buckeye? You can probably count them on one hand.
Ohio State is fortunate to have a man of Jim Tressel's character running it's program. Through his actions he not only helps his football players "win with people", but he also goes out into the community known as Buckeye Nation and helps many of it's members "win with people" as well. What he did for Ryan Anderson was genuine and from the heart and shows what type of person he really is. While his actions of not speaking up when his players committed violations was wrong, maybe it's time for all of us to give some support to Coach Tressel and for once, help him to "win with people".