A week or so ago I read that Jimmy Haslam was seen having dinner with Jim Tressel in a Cleveland area restaurant. I assumed it was just a casual meeting and maybe Jimmy would offer Coach Tressel a front office position for the Browns. Something simple and small, used to give the former Buckeye head man a job in football again and to give the new owner in Cleveland a constant source of good football advice. It would be a small win/win situation.
Yesterday, however, my friend’s words permeated through my skull, into my brain, and exploded my mind into a thousand little pieces. After mentioning this Jimmy and Jim rendezvous he said, “Oh, Jim Tressel as the Head Coach of the Browns. I could see that.” Instantaneously, my brainwaves were shocked. How could this absolutely brilliant idea not have popped into my head at any point. It literally never crossed my mind that Jim Tressel could be the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns. I literally started jumping up and down at the notion that Tressel could actually prove a legitimate fit for this Browns organization. The excitement at this proposition immediately could be seen on my face and through my voice. It was amazing. I instantly knew who had to be the next Head Coach for the Cleveland Browns.
Jim Tressel is beloved throughout the great state of Ohio. Needless to say, Tressel’s name is thrown in amongst Woody Hayes and Earle Bruce as the greatest head coach in the history of the Ohio State football program. We all know his pedigree. 4 FCS National Championships at Youngstown State. One National Title at Ohio State, 3 National Title Games, 7 BCS Bowl Appearances, and most importantly, an 8-1 record against That School Up North.
Tressel left Ohio State in the midst of a scandal that left Buckeye Nation heartbroken. They longed to see the Sweater Vest on the Ohio State sidelines for many years to come, but unfortunately the situation at hand would not allow him to do so.
Upon leaving Ohio State, Jim Tressel was interviewed to be the Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts after the firing of Jim Caldwell. Even then, I thought the Colts made a bad decision by not hiring Tressel and instead going with Chuck Pagano for the position.
Jim Tressel should be the next Head Coach for the Cleveland Browns for many reasons. The first and foremost being that Tressel understands how to lead a group of men into battle. Any Buckeye that played under Coach Tressel would have an incredibly hard time describing just how much Jim Tressel meant to them and their lives. He cares about his team as people first, and then as football players. He knows how to run a disciplined football team and, as we saw in the most unfortunate of circumstances, would stand up for his guys through thick and thin.
Tressel also has the right mentality and football IQ to be a great NFL Head Coach. Unlike Shurmur and his ultra-conservative, yet sometimes aggressive, but utterly ridiculous style of coaching, Tressel was conservative but always to the perfect degree. He’s been a head coach before. He knows how to manage a game. He knows when to make an aggressive decision and he knows when to hold back. He knows how to manage a clock, to call a play, and most importantly to win the game. That is something the Browns haven’t had for quite a while: a winner at the helm.
Tressel’s style of football would work at the NFL level. He doesn’t run a gimmick offense like Chip Kelly. He doesn’t need elusive speed to put an winning football team on the field. He doesn’t need to throw the ball 40-50 times a game. There is a reason that Tressel’s offensive style was named the “Pro” style offense. With Trent Richardson, I think it would be scary what Jim Tressel could do for this Cleveland Browns team. He would use Trent a lot like they did at Alabama, and let him plow through the line for big gain after big game. Unlike Shurmur, Tressel wouldn’t make Brandon Weeden uncomfortable and put him under center for 75% of the snaps.
I’ve always said that the best coaches play to their strengths and don’t force the players into a mold. Pat Shurmur, quite obviously, does that and has been forcing since the day he got here. Jim Tressel, at Ohio State, never did that. When he had Troy Smith, he threw a lot. When he had Todd Boeckman, he kept the emphasis on the running game. When Terrelle Pryor was at the helm, he put in the option and let Terrelle run around the field, while partially abandoning the straight dropback passing game until later in Pryor’s career. Tressel always played to the strengths of his football team and adjusted his gameplan around them. The players are going to be more effective when they are more comfortable with their gameplan. This is especially true with young and inexperienced teams like the Cleveland Browns.
Finally, I believe that Jim Tressel would be the perfect fit for the Browns because he understands. He is a Northeast Ohio guy who understands how badly this city wants to win. He has seen a Cleveland Browns championship team before and knows just how this city could use one again. He understands how to put a winning product on the field and make the fans proud of the team that they’ve been ashamed of since 1999.
Weeks ago, I made the case that I didn’t care who Jimmy Haslam hired as long as it was “the right guy”. Well ladies and gentleman, I’ve found him. Jim Tressel is the right guy for the job. I don’t see Bill Cowher coming through that door, so I believe it’s time for “Tressel Ball” in Northeast Ohio.
Follow Hayden on Twitter @H_Grove