Complete Transcription of Jim Tressel's Statement

Dr. Kirwan, Mr. Geiger, ladies and gentlemen, friends from the media and buckeye fans throughout the world. I'm really humbled to stand before you today. I just spent the last 40 minutes standing before the Ohio State Buckeyes in their team meeting room, and I mentioned the same thing to them. Having been born in the state of Ohio and idolizing the likes of Paul Brown and having had a chance, as I recall, to meet him and the Grozas used to take us out to Hiram (College), and idolizing Woody Hayes and everything he did, and believing everything that he said, then having the joy to work for Earle Bruce. Had it not been for my experience with Earle Bruce, there is no way I would have been prepared to become the head coach at Youngstown State.

My relationship with Coach Cooper has been tremendous. Anyone that has ever asked me, I've said that it's amazing. Every time that I've had the opportunity to see Coach Cooper, he always mentions that he is very proud of the Penguins from Northeast Ohio and how we've brought great national exposure to the great state of Ohio, and he's nothing but complimentary about what the Penguins have meant to his state.

As I sit here and think about the fact I will be following men like that, it's really humbling, but it's so exciting. On Tuesday, when we got a chance to visit this wonderful institution, there were so many things that were amazing, and it starts at the top. I know my wife Ellen and I were so taken by the warmth and the general concern and the thoughtful questions and the intentions of President and Mrs. Kirwan, for them to allow us to sit in their home and visit and really open their hearts to what they had in mind and want to know what we had in mind was really a tremendous capping to a great day. But throughout the whole day, every place we went and we saw the fabulous facilities, and I was here 15 years ago, and the difference between the facilities today and 15 years ago was extraordinary.

But everywhere you went, you saw three words. You saw those words of tradition, you saw those words of people, you saw the word excellence. As I stand before you today, I understand the responsibility that I have to contribute to upholding the great tradition and building new traditions at Ohio State. I understand the responsibility and accountability that I have for the people that I have the chance to be with, whether it be the folks of the media or the folks of the city of Columbus or our student athletes or students on campus or faculty or staff or managers or trainers or secretaries or assistant coaches. My responsibility is to those people, and certainly to the people of the great state of Ohio.

When you are at a place like Ohio State that is so visible as an outstanding institution, so visible as an outstanding football program, it gives us even more responsibility, because it's not just to this state or this region, it's to this country and it's to the world. The most exciting thing to me is the we can have that impact of excellence done the right way that will resound around the world and hopefully young people all over this state certainly and all over this world, will look at the way that our young people do it and the way that our coaches do it and the way that our faculty do it, and they'll want to do it just that way. That's what leadership is all about. Leadership is service. Leadership is making sure that excellence in everything we do, on and off the field, in the classroom, in the community, in our homes, where ever it happens to be, excellence is what's expected.

I can't thank the people of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley enough because I know full well, that if it weren't for those 15 years, and those tremendous fans, and those national championships and those student athletes that were under our guidance all those years, that if those things didn't happen, I know that I wouldn't be here. I know how blessed I am. I can't thank those people enough.

When you're somewhere 15 years it's difficult to walk a different direction, but the people back there know how much I love them, how much I appreciate them, how grateful I am that they allowed me in their community for 15 years to try and serve and try and lead, and we'll try very hard to make them proud in the capital city.

Obviously, I'm also blessed with a tremendous background. I shared with the team a little story today that you really don't know how things are going to happen. It was the fall of 1942, long before most of us were born, that my dad happened to be the player of the year in the state of Ohio as a running back at Ada High School, a booming metropolis of 80. There was only one place that he was interested in going, and that was to Ohio State and Paul Brown and the rest of the Buckeyes. So he graduated early, graduated in January and enrolled in the Spring of '43 and at that time they were allowing the freshmen to play a little bit is Spring practice because some of the men had gone on to war, had gone on to service. He had a great spring game, and we'll have to get (OSU sports information director) Steve Snapp to get the microfilm out and find out exactly if he had as great a game as he always told us he did, but as the story goes, he scored two or three times in that spring game. But, he felt compelled at the end of that spring term to enlist, to serve. He was unselfish. He wanted to go and serve his country like all the great men did at that time. So he didn't get to live his dream to be here. I guess it works in funny ways, because I get to.

My mom is here today and she reminded me that she has taken courses here, but then the war was on and she was riveting bolts for the men who were overseas so they could fly and win. She didn't back down. She got here degree. It wasn't until 1972, so she wouldn't have helped our graduation rate, but she got here degree and she certainly loved the great state of Ohio and has spent many a year cheering the Buckeyes from where ever she's been. With here today are two people that I think really emulate what life is all about, and what Ohio State is all about, and what the High School Coaches of Ohio are all about. The two young ladies that rode here from Berea with my mother, Jackie Groza, the widow of the late Lou Groza, long time Berea citizen. We were so blessed in Berea growing up that the Groza family didn't just do great things for the Cleveland Browns, they moved into Berea to be great citizens. They moved into Berea to be part of the family, and they were just like anyone else. We went to their house, and they came to our house. One of my greatest joys in my whole life was that we got to go and hold the ball for Lou The Toe, as he practiced to get ready for his season. We got to go chase it, too. But he always hit it straight. I'm so excited that Jackie is here today. Her son Jeff and I were classmates in Berea, Jill was with us in school a couple of years behind, and John and Judd of course you all know who came to Ohio State and played and graduated and is doing great things with his Ohio State diploma.

The other young lady is Sandy Madzie. Tom Madzie was my high school coach. Billy Graham says that a high school coach or a college coach can have more impact in one year than a preacher can have in a lifetime. I know that's true in this case. Tom Madzie had to much impact on me. It's amazing, and I'm so happy that these folks can be here and share this with us and get excited about the Buckeyes beginning in 2001.

My wife Ellen is here with us, and she is so excited to get to know those players and get to know those coaches and the coaches families and the community, and I'm just so excited and proud for her and can't wait until you see and find out that really the best part of the deal that you got is Ellen. With us also is Eric and Carlee and Whitney. I embarrassed them in various ways in our team meeting, so I won't do that here with all of you. Our son Zack is a junior at Ohio State right now, and we had our first discussion about the importance of class with our team this afternoon. He had physics from 3:30 until 4:30, and I explained to the team something that my dad always used to explain to us, that really there's only one reason to miss class, and that's a death in the family, you're own, and so, Zack wasn't with us at our team meeting and isn't with us today. But without them, really nothing is important.

Again, I'm so proud to be here, and we talked at length. I'm sure the players are wondering if they're going to get four credits for the lecture series that they just began here this afternoon. We talked about a lot of things. The most of important of which is that the only way that we can achieve is that we need to understand what achievement and success really is. We believe that success is simply the inner satisfaction, that peace of mind knowing, that I did the best I could possibly do for the group, for the group. Unselfishness is the key to anything. Team is the key to anything.

We talked at good length this afternoon about the fact that I want to get to know them and I want to develop a relationship with them and know everything about who they are and what they want to be in all phases of their life, and that we can achieve in every phase of life, and that the two most exciting days that they will have at Ohio State University will be the day that they walk across and that diploma is placed in their hand, and the second will be when they are allowed to slip that ring on their finger that has a "1". That will be the two most exciting days.

If we reach our potential, if we're unselfish, if we care about one another, if we build relationships with everyone, our team with the community, our team with the media, our team with the academic advisors, our team with the strength coaches, our team with the faculty, our team with each other, our team with the coaches, everyone with everyone, if we can build relationships at the great Ohio State, there is nothing we can't do.

We understand how much work it is going to take, but we want to get started now. I'm so excited to be here. I'm sure there are some people here that I forgot to introduce because I forgot some in our last meeting. I apologize for that, but I know everyone in this room that I have previously known know how much I care for them, and I'm looking forward to creating that type of relationship with everyone else that I now have the great honor to meet.

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