During the break between the first and second quarters of Saturday’s Ohio State-Michigan game, the University recognized the 2002 National Championship team and its head coach, Jim Tressel. Tressel was hoisted onto the shoulders of his former players as the crowd at Ohio Stadium roared.
After the game, I was surprised to read some very harsh comments about this simple gesture. Fans of Michigan, Wisconsin, and other schools — many of whom think Ohio State’s domination of the Big Ten conference is the product of a dirty program that skirts the NCAA rules and cheats — depicted the ceremony as Ohio State thumbing its nose at the NCAA and displaying its contempt for the rules and sanctions that ultimately resulted in Jim Tressel’s resignation. I think that is a small, mean-spirited reaction to a desire to honor a storied Ohio State team on the 10th anniversary of its greatest achievement.
No one at Ohio State will forget how the Jim Tressel era ended — and I’m confident Coach Tressel won’t, either. That reality shouldn’t mean that we can’t remember the good moments of the Tressel era, too. There were many, and the 2002 National Championship is one of them. I’m glad the members of that team, and Coach Tressel as well, were saluted for their accomplishment.