Jim Tressel, football coach. That’s the association most people make of the former Ohio State head coach. It’s no wonder – he did spend 36 years as a coach. But Tressel’s true calling is mentoring young people.
From the moment he walked onto a University of Akron field in the fall of 1975, Tressel has had a keen eye on helping his players grow both on and off the playing field. When recruits enter his presence, they are just teenagers. Oftentimes, when they leave, Tressel has helped mold them into productive members of society.
That’s what brought him back together with a handful of his former players on Saturday afternoon in a warm high school gym outside Youngstown. Maurice Clarett, the enigmatic star of Ohio State’s lone national championship team of the past 44 years, was hosting a charity basketball game that raised funds for a youth center near his hometown.
Clarett’s odyssey from star football player turned convict is a well-told tale. But following a nearly four-year stay in prison, he has succeeded in putting his life back together. At the center of it all has been Tressel.