Beginning tonight, many high school football coaches throughout Ohio will wear ties on the sideline in an opening-weekend tribute to ousted Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel - who was seldom seen in public without his famous neckwear.
But if a survey conducted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer is any indication, not all coaches like the idea, which was conceived by Solon High School football coach Jim McQuaide as a way to thank Tressel for his contributions to high school football and the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association scholarship fund. In fact, of the coaches responding to the newspaper, 48 said they would not don a tie, 25 stated they would and nine were undecided. According to reporter Tim Warsinskey, "the vast majority of 'no' responses said they have some appreciation for Tressel's support of high school football but preferred their players be the center of attention instead."
Among the more insightful responses Warsinskey received:
• "I cannot stand in front of my team honoring someone who talked about 'trust,' 'honesty' and 'doing the right things on and off the field,' as we do in our program, and have this same man go against everything he preached," Strongsville High coach Russ Jacques, who won't be wearing a tie, said in an e-mail. "He has done a lot for high school football, but what he did by lying is inexcusable as far as the integrity of our game and our profession. When [former OSU] coach [Woody] Hayes was fired, did the high school football coaches honor him that first week of the season? He did a lot more for high school football and Ohio State than Tressel did. And he didn't lie!"
• "Jim Tressel made a mistake and has certainly received the consequences," e-mailed St. Ignatius High coach Chuck Kyle, who plans to wear a tie. "The friendship and goodwill that he has for Ohio high school football should not be discarded because of that mistake. Young people can learn that a friend can make a mistake, serve a consequence, and still be a friend. Hopefully, young people can still see the good within the person. Maybe we all need to reread The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne."
As for McQuaide, he told Warsinskey he doesn't really care if his colleagues from other schools wear a tie or not: "[Tressel] did a tremendous amount for high school football in the state as the leader of the leading football university in the state. If they disagree, that's fine. I don't keep a tally sheet. Some people have gotten very upset and expressed that to me, and it was just meant to say 'thank you.' "