As enjoyable as this trip down Memory Lane as been for me with this ten-part series, and hopefully for any Ohio State fan who has read the articles, it begs the inevitable question - how much longer will Jim Tressel be the head coach for Ohio State?
In March of 2010, Ohio State extended Coach Tressel's contract by two years, taking him through the 2014 season. Coach Tressel's current team, as well as his incoming class of recruits in 2011 and 2012, will keep Ohio State competitive in both The Big Ten and the national rankings through the remainder of his current contract.
As much as Coach Tressel admires Coach Joe Paterno of Penn State, Tressel has stated that he has no ambition to coach well into his eighties. The current contract would expire when Coach Tressel would be 62 years young, allowing him time to pursue other areas of interest beyond the coaching arena.
Could politics be in his future? Some people, such as former Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman, have speculated it could be possible. After all, the man whom many have nicknamed "The Senator" would be tremendously popular and easily electable within the state of Ohio.
Any individual who has read Coach Tressel's fine book The Winners Manual will quickly learn that football is not the end-all, be-all of Coach Tressel's life. Community service is a core aspect of his life, and his players' lives.
While I will not entirely rule out a political future in Coach Tressel's future, I am going to take a less risky route, one that Coach Tressel has taken in his past.
I believe Coach Tressel's second decade at Ohio State, perhaps at the end of his next contract in 2014, or one shortly after that, will conclude with his ascension into the position of athletic director at Ohio State. Before coming to Ohio State in 2001, Coach Tressel was both the athletic director and head football coach at Youngstown State.
At his core, Coach Tressel considers himself a teacher, first and foremost. I believe he cherishes the opportunity to be involved within the campus community at Ohio State, teaching a heavily-demanded football class. And I believe he has fostered a teaching atmosphere within his staff that he hopes to continue upon the conclusion of his coaching days, like Barry Alvarez did at Wisconsin or the late Bo Schembechler did at Michigan.
Ideally, one of Coach Tressel's prize disciples who have moved onto head coaching positions, such as Darrell Hazell of Kent State or Tim Beckman of Toledo, will win enough to move into possible consideration. And if Coach Tressel is the athletic director, he can simply hire that individual, knowing that the foundations of the program he cultivated will remain intact.
Perhaps I am mistaken, and all I have speculated about will be cause for ridicule in the future. Regardless, Coach Tressel has taken a strong program from 2001 and has made it stronger, and I am tremendously appreciative of the past decade, and look forward to the 2011 season and beyond with Coach Tressel at the helm.
I am going to conclude this series with some of Coach Tressel's words, excerpted from the book What It Means To Be A Buckeye...
"It means we are extraordinarily blessed and we have an awesome responsibility to uphold the higher standards that have been set before us. It means we have a tradition that is second to none. It means we love Ohio State."
Part Nine: The Team
Part Eight: Michigan
Part Seven: The Comparisons
Part Six: The Bowl Wins
Part Five: The Nailbiters
Part Four: The Defeats
Part Three: The Seasons
Part Two: The Recruits
Part One: The Speech