Since Memorial Day, I think most Ohio state fans have had this image of their heads of Jim Tressel doing his best Sad Keanu impersonation: sitting on a park bench, staring off wistfully into space, trying to coax a random squirrel into eating a peanut out of his hand and then bailing at the last moment because he's afraid of getting rabies, sobbing intermittently.
You know, normal "I just lost my dream job and am never getting it back" stuff.
Of course, that's probably not the case. Tressel is a 58 year old man whose even keel personality means that he'll probably peacefully pass away during the middle of a Lawrence Welk marathon at the age of 116, so I kind of doubt there's been any theatrical vase smashing or tirades against the Illuminati for taking his job. Still though, how weird must it be for him to have to sit on the sidelines, so to speak, while the football program that he had defined for a decade flounders on the field of play?
Weirder still is probably watching other people try and define his legacy in the weeks and months after his firing, with the eventual conclusion at Ohio State's Lantern that "Jim Tressel has done more harm than good to Ohio State football."
Seriously, imagine Tressel sitting alone in his kitchen, wearing pajamas and his starched nightcap from the evening before, eating a danish and reading
People like to pretend that Tressel transformed OSU into the national power that it is, when in reality, he's leaving the football program in worse shape than it was in before he got here, and that's a clear sign of having done more harm than good.
How is that even a thing that exists in this universe? How do you even move on from something like that, where some people in the world actually believe something this dumb? Me? I'd curl up in the fetal position and hope that eventually the world would ignore me at some point, long enough for me to evolve into some kind of Gollum-esque creature (not that much of a stretch) that spends the rest of its' days scouring the globe for the NCAA Confirmation of Compliance sheet that I've convinced myself I mistakenly signed.
But Jim Tressel isn't me. And he didn't do that.
See, I'm interested in the process of transition, and what Jim Tressel has been up to in the interim. During his time as head coach, there was always speculation about him potentially taking a head coaching job in the NFL, usually to the Browns. But that kind of talk never worried me, because like so many plastic dog noses on mostly naked fat men in December, it just didn't seem to fit.
I also can't imagine him ever being any sort of analyst or tv commentator, unless it was just an extended plot to get him within punching distance of Craig James. Stoic, taciturn guys rarely pan out on television, especially when they've spent the majority of their adult lives trying to be as completely uninteresting to the media as possible. Maybe the Cooking Network or something. "The Joys of Toast, with Jimmy T."
Ultimately, of course, Tressel did land a job, as a "replay consultant" with the Colts, and will start his new life this Sunday against New Orleans. I honestly don't know what the hell replay consulltant is even supposed to mean; hiring Tressel as a replay consultant is like hiring Warren Buffett to help you find a cheap couch (although seriously Mr. Buffett, if you're interested, I do need a couch). The title is of course BS, but maybe that's a good thing. For the past decade this guy has been defined by a title. Let Jim Tressel just be who he is, without blowhard writers define who he is or what he's done based on a few decisions in a nearly six decade long life.
Selfishly, I really hope he bucks the trend of former OSU coaches treating the program like an ex-US president does for his incumbent. If there's ever a time in a game where internally Tressel thinks "Man, I really wish they would've run some kind of inside rushing play named after the founder of Wendy's there," or "Wow that is a lot of Nickelback in the pregame music" I would encourage him to say it. Out loud. In public.
Thing is though, we all know that's not going to happen. Jim Tressel is who he is, and losing one little job won't change that. He'll take the criticism and the barbs and the jokes and still go on doing his sweet new job, hanging out at practice with his buds, helping East High School in Youngstown get a new football stadium, and doing pretty cool things like this:
Jim Tressel the Undefeated, inscrutable to the last.