Aunt Bebe, as she is known in our family, is my sister-in-law. She has been a devout Ohio State Buckeye fan long before Bob was even a glimmer in his father’s eye. She adores the Buckeyes. I’m not sure why. She didn’t got to school there.
When Jim Tressel became the coach at OSU, Bebe was ecstatic. Bebe thought he was great – in part, no doubt, because in his inaugural introduction to the fans, players and students he promised a victory over the dreaded team up north (Michigan- to the uninitiated). She wrote Tressel encouraging him and raving about the prospects for the team. She continued to write him. She wrote him when OSU lost (not often) and she wrote him when they won (a lot). She was his most ardent supporter.
A few years ago, she wrote Tressel before theMichigangame and warned him that they might try a statue of liberty play. He turned the tables and put the play into his game plan and used it. In a post game interview with Sports Illustrated, Tressel mentioned the fact that Bebe, an elderly lady inAkron, had sent him the play and he used it. The team had gained significant yardage and the story was great p.r. Needless to say, Bebe was flabbergasted and thrilled. The local newspaper picked it up and Bebe was a minor celebrity.
When Tressel came under fire for covering up his players misdeeds, Bebe stuck with him and continued to send him supportive letters. One can debate whether Tressel was right or wrong in his actions, but one cannot debate the value of having a friend who understands mistakes, forgives them and continues to be supportive of the errant person. That’s Bebe. She understands that to err is human. She may not accept that she is divine in her forgiveness, but she is.
Yesterday Bebe was invited, by some folks who also hold her in high regard, to a fund raiser at which Jim Tressel spoke. Before the speech, the gentleman who was in charge, and who had brought Bebe to the affair, while speaking to Tressel, noticed Bebe standing across the room and said to Tressel: “Do you know this lady?” Tressel immediately said “Of course, It’s Bebe” (or words to that effect) and he then went over to her and gave her a hug.
Talk about being thrilled. But the story does not end there. At the beginning of his speech, Tressel introduced Bebe to the audience, had her stand up and made some nice comments about her and their years of correspondence. But wait, that’s not all. As it was a fund raiser event there was a door prize. Tressel drew a number for the winner, but the person wasn’t there. He drew again and – yep, it was Bebe’s number. And for icing on the cake, Tressel spent a few more moments with her after the affair was over. Oh, did I mention that Bebe is 85 years old? . Bebe probably won’t sleep for a week.
Nice people don’t always finish last. Sometimes they win. Maybe not often enough, but sometimes. No one is nicer than Bebe. She deserved all that happened to her yesterday. But it is also clear that Tressel is a nice man. Maybe his trouble arose because he was just looking out for his players. I don’t know. I do know that in my book, Jim Tressel will always be a great coach and a good man just for how he has treated Bebe.