Ohio State Head Football Coach Jim Tressel has never waived in his support for the Mahoning Valley and Youngstown State University, even though he has been gone from the area and school for more than eight years.
His commitment to YSU, where he spent 15 seasons as the head football coach, continues today through his vision of making the Watson and Tressel Training Site Indoor Facility a reality. For his continued efforts and his past successes, Coach Tressel, along with the members of the Watson and Tressel families' are being honored as the 2009 Penguins of the Year.
In his nine years with the Buckeyes, Tressel has guided the program to a 84-21 record, nine bowl appearances, including seven BCS games; seven 10-win seasons; six Big Ten titles; including a record five straight, and a national championship in 2002.
Tressel, who owns an overall record of 229-78-2 after 24 years as a head coach, was named as the Buckeyes' 22nd head coach Jan. 18, 2001. His original five-year contract was extended through 2008 following the 2002 season. He was given a new contract at the end of the 2005 campaign that runs through 2012.
He is an impressive 8-1 thus far against the Wolverines.
In 2002, Ohio State came from out of nowhere to capture the Big Ten's first consensus national title since 1968, posting a 13-0 regular-season record and upsetting top-ranked Miami in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in a 31-24 double-overtime thriller, becoming the first FBS school to record a 14-0 campaign. For his efforts during the year, he was named the AFCA and Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year.
During 2003, Tressel led the Buckeyes to an 11-2 record and their second consecutive BCS bowl appearance. OSU defeated Kansas State in a return visit to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Despite the loss of 28 seniors and an NFL-record 14 players to the draft, the 2004 Buckeyes attained an 8-4 record that included wins over Michigan in the regular-season finale and Oklahoma State in the MasterCard Alamo Bowl.
In 2005, the 10-2 Buckeyes tied for the Big Ten title (7-1) and closed the season with back-to-back wins over Michigan and Notre Dame.
In 2006, Ohio State opened the season at No. 1 in the polls and held that ranking throughout the course of the regular season, the first team to go wire-to-wire at the top spot. Posting a 12-0 record during the regular season, Ohio State recorded wins over Texas and Michigan, both of which were ranked No. 2 at the time they played the Buckeyes, and played Florida in the BCS championship game in Arizona.
In 2007, despite the loss of 12 players to pro ball, 11-2 Ohio State won another outright Big Ten title and carried the No. 1 ranking in the polls for five weeks. OSU advanced to the BCS title game again, facing LSU in New Orleans.
In 2008, the Buckeyes earned another Big Ten title, sharing the crown with Penn State. Ohio State reached its fourth straight BCS Bowl where it took a highly-regarded Texas team down to the wire at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The Buckeyes were 10-3 on the year, for Tressel's sixth 10-plus win campaign at the school.
Last year, Ohio State won the Rose Bowl for the first time under Tressel as the Buckeyes finished the year with an 11-2 mark. OSU earned a share of its fifth straight Big Ten crown and capped the year off with a 26-17 win over the Ducks.
As the former head football coach and Director of Athletics Tressel left a major mark not only on the Athletic Department and campus, but the entire Mahoning Valley community.
Tressel spent 15 years as the head coach at Youngstown State and six as the Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics before being named the head football coach at The Ohio State University in January 2001.
Tressel brought a winning attitude to the Mahoning Valley when he took charge of the Penguin football program in the mid-1980s. He gave the people something to rally around in a time of need and helped keep the spirits of everyone in the community high.
He came to Youngstown in 1986, and within two seasons, the Penguins were in the NCAA FCS Playoffs. The playoffs, once a dream, became common place for YSU. In his tenure, Youngstown State appeared in the playoffs 10 times and won four national championships.
The first national title came in 1991 and began a run of four straight title-game appearances. The march to the crown in 1991 was magical as the Penguins won eight straight to end the season. YSU won at Georgia Southern on Nov. 2 and was never to lose again that season. In the playoffs, the Penguins beat Villanova, Nevada-Reno and Samford before beating Marshall in the title game.
After losing in the title game to Marshall in 1992, the Penguins were back in 1993 to finish 13-2 and beat the Thundering Herd 17-5 in the title game.
In 1994, the Penguins were unbeaten in 15 games and finished14-0-1. YSU tied Stephen F. Austin in the season opener and then won a school-record 14 consecutive games to earn a repeat championship. In the playoffs, the Penguins beat Alcorn State, Eastern Kentucky and Montana en route to the title game. YSU beat Boise State 28-14 to earn its third national title.
In 1997, the Penguins were back in the national title hunt. In the playoffs, YSU beat Hampton, Villanova and Eastern Washington to advance to the title game. In a tight defensive game, YSU beat McNeese State 10-9 to earn Tressel's fourth title.
En route to the 1999 title game, YSU set an NCAA FCS record with 15 consecutive playoff wins after beating Montana, North Carolina A&T and Florida A&M in the preliminary rounds. In the championship game, YSU lost to Georgia Southern.
In his final year in 2000, YSU finished 9-3 and qualified for the playoffs for the 10th time.
Born in Mentor, Ohio, where his father, Lee, reeled off 34 consecutive wins as a high school coach before becoming the head coach at Massillon High School, Tressel spent most of his childhood in Berea, more often than not accompanied his father to football practices and games at Baldwin Wallace.
A 1971 Berea High graduate, Tressel played for his father at Baldwin-Wallace, earning four letters at quarterback and winning all-conference honors as a senior in 1974. He graduated cum laude in 1975 with a degree in education.
He embarked upon his coaching career in the 1975 as a graduate assistant at Akron, where he remained through1978. He served in a full-time capacity his last three seasons as coach of the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs.
Jim is married to the former Ellen Watson. They are the parents of four accomplished young adults: Zak, Carlee, Eric and Whitney.