Tressel returns to college, not coaching

By Tom Withers

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Feb. 2 2012 10:35 a.m. MST

Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel speaks after being introduced as the new vice president for strategic engagement at the University of Akron Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012, in Akron, Oho.

Mark Duncan, Associated Press

AKRON, Ohio — Jim Tressel is getting a "second chance" at the school where he started coaching.

The former Ohio State coach, who resigned in disgrace last May amid a cash-for-tattoos scandal at the football powerhouse, was hired by Akron on Thursday as vice president of strategic engagement, — a position newly created for him.

Tressel will earn a base salary of $200,000 per year, more than $3 million less than he made during the last of 10 years guiding the Buckeyes. Tressel will begin his new job on May 1.

"I feel fortunate that I got this opportunity," Tressel said following a packed news conference unlike any in the school's history. "It's going to be a fun one."

In his new position, Tressel, who said he has no interest in coaching in the NFL, will work with Akron's students, alumni and community organizations on a variety of issues. Tressel will not have any direct involvement with the school's athletic department, one of the conditions of the five-year, show-cause sanction he was given by the NCAA following an investigation.

However, Tressel's name alone is sure to give Akron, with an enrollment of 29,000, a major boost in name recognition and will certainly help in recruiting athletes and other students.

Akron president Luis M. Proenza said he had no misgiving about hiring Tressel, who was an undergraduate assistant for the Zips in 1975 and earned his master's degree in education from the school in 1977.

"Look at the man. Look at what he has done," Proenza said. "Look at the thousands of lives he has impacted. We knew that was the asset. The opportunity. And we wanted that to be available. There was no question in my mind that for the university, for the community, for Northeast Ohio, for the 30,000 students at Akron, this will make a difference."

Tressel, wearing a navy blue blazer and gold ties — Akron's colors — and a tie with a logo of the school's Kangaroo mascot, was typically smooth as he answered direct questions regarding his role in Ohio State's fall.

Tressel said he has no regrets, but he did acknowledge wishing he had handled some things differently.

"I think you always go back, whether it was a game you coached or a series of things that occurred and you always go back and say here's what I could have done better," he said. "In this type thing, working with young people, you can use your experience. Just like we did talking about special teams. If the right guard didn't block the guy and we had the punt blocked, we wouldn't have lost the championship.

"You always go back and you probably learn more and can teach better from some of your shortcomings."

Tressel, who was joined at the news conference by his wife, Ellen, said since leaving Ohio State that he has finished reading 30 of 100 books he pledged to read. He also joked that his wife was anxious for him to return to work.

"Ellen wanted me to get out of the house," he cracked. "I mean, how often can you cut the grass?"

Tressel served as a replay consultant last season for the Indianapolis Colts. He met with team owner Jim Irsay about the team's head coaching position but didn't get the job, and said he has no current plans to coach again. He is committed to Akron.

"I'll be coaching students every day," he said. "I'm an educator. I'm going to work as if this is the last place I'm ever going to work."

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