Thirty-six inches: One yard, and mail from an Ashland legend, impacted Tressel’s OSU career


ASHLAND — Basketball icon Bob Haas was four years into his Hall of Fame coaching career at Willard when a young man, fresh out of Baldwin-Wallace College, interviewed for the football post at the high school.

His name was Jim Tressel.

Puff out your chest, preferably while wearing one of his signature sweater vests, if you already knew that.

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“I applied for a million jobs and the only one where I got an interview was Willard High School,” Tressel said. “And I remember preparing, and all the stuff I brought (with me), and I sat in front of (the selection committee) and I thought, for sure, I was going to Willard.

“Then they gave the job to a guy named Don Graham. I don’t know what they saw in Don that I didn’t have.”

Tressel, who led the Ohio State football team to seven Big Ten titles and a national championship in 2002, joined former Ashland University football coach Lee Owens on the AU campus recently to speak at a luncheon program called “Lessons in Leadership, From the Gridiron to the Board Room.”

Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel addresses the football team while appearing recently on the Ashland University campus.

Tressel’s tongue was firmly planted in his cheek when he teasingly brought up Don Graham’s name. Graham, who was seated not far from the stage, has been president of the AU Gridiron Club since its inception in 2006. He was a fine coach in his own right, leading Willard to the school’s first outright Northern Ohio League championship in 33 years in 1979.

Graham played at Ashland for Fred Martinelli, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. What better time for Tressel to evoke Martinelli’s name than while speaking at a banquet in the shadows of Martinelli…

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Author : Mansfield News Journal

Publish date : 2024-04-02 09:08:55

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