Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel has no bigger fan than Bebe Webner — aka “Buckeye Bebe.” She writes him regularly, is on his Christmas card list, and even suggested a play that Ohio State used to beat Michigan.
With everyone in Ohio talking about Coach Tressel’s NCAA violation, it was not surprising that the Akron Beacon Journal would ask Aunt Bebe for her thoughts. Her comments are reported here. Characteristically, she has written to Coach Tressel telling him to hang in there and to remind him that he has a lot of supporters.
I think if you read between the lines, however, you will see that Aunt Bebe feels the same two reactions that I’ve seen from virtually every Ohio State fan I’ve encountered — surprise and disappointment. We who have been impressed and pleased by the quality of Jim Tressel’s stewardship of the Ohio State program are surprised at the poor judgment he showed on this occasion, and we are disappointed because we hold the University and all of its representatives to high standards — high standards that Coach Tressel willingly shouldered. People who aren’t from Ohio and who view Ohio State as a mindless football factory might scoff at this, but Ohioans know that it is true. We are proud of The Ohio State University and want it to stand for quality, fairness, and scrupulous compliance with the rules.
That doesn’t mean people won’t forgive Coach Tressel for this transgression. He’s done too much good for the University, for countless charities, and for the hundreds of student athletes he has coached to let one mistake ruin his legacy — but there is no doubt that his legacy has been tarnished by this incident. That is why this has been such a sad period for Ohio State fans.