Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More than Roses and Buckeyes

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media

Now that we’re in full football fervor mode, known as “Bowl Mania,” I thought I’d hand off to college football.

The Ohio State Buckeyes are slim underdogs going into their Rose Bowl match-up with the Oregon Ducks, but while the results of that game will hold up for anywhere from a few days to some months, history shows that the outcome will not be the primary offshoot for Buckeyes players. Go out and grab a copy of David Lee Morgan, Jr.’s “More Than a Coach,” and you will understand why.

Read “More Than a Coach” because:

1. The book reminds readers that life is about something bigger than oneself.

Tressel came to understand this principle about the time he realized his dream of becoming a head coach. Surely, there must be something more, he reasoned. Over time, he assembled the “Winner’s Manual,” a playbook that stresses team strength and extends beyond football.

Looking back after 20 years, Trenton Lykes credits his former coach for a boost of confidence that continues to carry him through today. “He was the first person that ever told me, ‘I think you’re pretty good.’ And at that time in my life, I was like, ‘Huh? I am?’” Tressel went on to draw up a vision play for his quarterback, so perfect that Lykes led Youngstown State to the school’s first playoff appearance. Personally, Lykes finished in the top-five in almost every YSU passing category. “I now set high goals in everything I do,” he says.

Lykes illustrates Tressel’s point with an analogy of a biker. Downhill stretches are sure to greet a biker and his opponent during a race. The temptation, Lykes says, is to coast when the opportunity arises. Instead Lykes resolves, “When (my opponent) is taking a break, I continue to work." (18-20, More Than a Coach)

2. Similar to football, you will need teammates in life. Sometimes that means reaching out to would-be opponents.

In spite of the fact that Tressel netted the most wins by any Division I-AA team and the fourth-most victories of both Division I-A and I-AA coaches combined in the 90s, some felt like he had Bigfoot’s boots to fill at Ohio State.

The Buckeyes’ previous coach, John Cooper, won the second-most games in school history during his tenure. Cooper three times earned a share of the Big Ten title and would later be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. What did Tressel do with that monster peering over his shoulder? He invited Bigfoot in for a drink. Tressel established a nearby office for the former OSU head man. “And any way Jim can use that to his advantage, we call that the winners’ edge,” Cooper says. (56)

3. Tressel isn’t perfect, however. At those times, just like when you’re talking about gridiron follies, you should admit where you came up short, the book advocates.

Former YSU running back Archie Herring recalls one miserable contest in which the quarterback could not hit his target. Finally, Tressel pulled him out and gave him an earful. The next day the coach realized the qb wasn’t the only one who looked bad. Tressel apologized in front of the whole team, a classy move that impresses Herring today. (60)

Long after players break the huddle for their final down, Tressel’s book proves that a relationship doesn’t need to end when a game clock expires.

Thank you for reading Free Keon, and Happy Holidays, friends. Slammin’ Sam will return next Tuesday.

Sam Miller/Free Keon

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