Isaacs defends Tressel

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Last updated: 06/01/2011 12:24 PM

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Football
Former YSU QB Defends Tressel, Criticizes SI Article
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It might be too late to save Jim Tressel’s job, but that isn’t stopping one of his former players from doing all he can to salvage Tressel’s reputation.

Speaking with 790 The Zone in Atlanta, Ga., Ray Isaac challenged the validity of the latest Sports Illustrated report he also came to the defense of his former coach following Monday’s announcement that Tressel had resigned as the head football coach at Ohio State.

“Jim Tressel is as good a man as you’ll ever meet. It’s almost to the point where it’s hokey; you would think he is phony,” Isaac said.

“Jim Tressel is like the person you want to be when you grow up. He’s always treated me like a son.”

If the name Ray Isaac sounds vaguely familiar to Ohio State fans, as if it existed only in a dream or another lifetime, it should. Before there was Terrelle Pryor there was Troy Smith and before there was Troy Smith there was Ray Isaac.

Before he took the job at Ohio State, Tressel spent 14 seasons as the head coach at Youngstown State. He won four Division I-AA national championships, but the quarterback on his very first one in 1991 was none other than Ray Isaac.

A local hero in Youngstown, Isaac was also one of the centerpieces of the latest Sports Illustrated piece by George Dohrmann, who alleges that Tressel was aware of Isaac’s relationship with booster Mickey Monus, a wealthy school trustee and the founder of the now-defunct Phar-Mor chain of drug stores.

“The article is a big lie,” Isaac said on 790 The Zone.

“I’m very displeased with the article. The article is chewed up. If you look at the paragraph that goes into what I was allegedly to have said, it is poorly written. It doesn’t give any facts or clarity. It almost looked like he read 50 articles of the Jim Tressel/Ray Isaac situation and mixed them all together and then wrote a paragraph because he could not get any words out of my mouth.”

According to Dohrmann’s piece, which was released late Monday evening, Tressel may have arranged a job for Isaac through Monus, who allegedly gave Isaac more than $10,000 in cash and checks during his time as a student-athlete at Youngstown State.

“It is implied that on the first meeting that I had with Mickey Monus that I received $150. That is the biggest lie ever told,” Isaac said.

“Jim Tressel never ever knew anything about our dealings. I kept it secret. To say Coach Tressel knew about this car, or knew about this money, listen, the only way that anyone knew about the money I received from Youngstown State University was Mickey Monus got indicted on $1.1 million worth of embezzlement and fraud.”

During that trial, the attorneys discovered checks that had been written from Monus to Isaac during his time on the board of trustees. The subsequent testimony of Monus and Isaac led to an internal investigation by Youngstown State.

“Other than that, no one in the history of the world would have known that Mickey Monus paid me a dime,” Isaac insisted.

That included Jim Tressel, who is accused of turning a blind eye to the behind-the-scenes relationship between his star quarterback and the president of a multi-million dollar discount drug chain.

Isaac sees it a little bit differently.

“When you look at these Youngstown State investigations, the first paragraph reads that Ray Isaac states that Jim Tressel or no other official at Youngstown State knew about the cars or the money,” he clarified Tuesday.

If he did look the other way, Tressel “got away with it” the first time. Although the university acknowledged a lack of institutional control, the NCAA cleared Tressel of all wrongdoing and Youngstown State was not forced to vacate its 1991 national championship.

It didn’t work out nearly as well for Tressel or his school this time around.

“The story has not been told. I think whatever he did, I don’t know what he did, I just know he’s going to protect and he has tried to protect his players and it just snowballed,” Isaac said.

“He’s a manager, man. He’s a manager or his coaching staff, he’s a manager of people, and it can get out of hand. Before you know it, you don’t have grips with what’s going on. … I’m the biggest advocate of Jim Tressel.”

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