Why Now?

For many in buckeye territory the question wasn’t why, but when?  Monday is not the day you want to unleash a leviathan upon the press, unless the news coming later in is going to overshadow it.  Judging from Jim Tressel’s letter of resignation, my guess is that we’re going to see something pretty embarrassing relatively soon.

“After meeting with university officials, we agreed that it is in the best interest of Ohio State that I resign as head football coach,” Tressel wrote in the resignation letter he submitted on Monday morning. “The recent situation has been a distraction for our great university and I make this decision for the greater good of the school.”

Let’s talk about that statement because it’s a pretty glaring admission on the part of Tressel.  First off, you can tell that he didn’t write the statement.  No one with an agent is going to submit to wording like “after talking to management I realized I had my head up my ass.”  Imagine you have the option to quit or be fired from your job.  Do you quit or do you let your employer terminate your employment?  The answer is pretty simple.  Especially for those who have attempted to collect unemployment.  You don’t quit because that implies that you left your job on your own accord.  No unemployment for you.  If you get fired however, then you’re entitled to some unemployment money.

You may not agree with it, but that’s the way it is.  Unemployment gets doled out based on contract law not civil or criminal law (even if you’re the subject of an investigation, ongoing or concluded.)  In contract law, there is no “mutually consented agreement,” that applies to a civil matter like a divorce.  In contract law one side is always at fault and 99% of the time it’s the person who ends up breaking the contract.  Now, most employers would rather fire you then pay you full compensation for your services.  That’s not a consensual matter however.  They are legally obligated to pay you if they’re the ones who renigged on the contract.

Why do I bring this up?  Because this statement is going to hurt Jim Tressel’s coaching career.  By using the language “after meeting with team officials” and “we decided,” he’s accepting a mutual decision made by more than one party.  That means it wasn’t really his call.  They found something or a league source found something and now Jim Tressel doesn’t have a job.  The point is that he was forced out and being forced out in sports is much different than being forced out in the life that you and I enjoy.

Being let go from a sports franchise, the team is saying a lot of things.  First they’re saying, “you can go anywhere but here.”  That’s not what people are looking for when they hire somebody for a job, especially when that job means being the part of an actual “team.”  Second, what they’re saying in relation to you and your role with the team is that “we don’t think you’re the person to lead us going forward.”  That’s a tough one to take.  Ask Brett Favre how he felt after he un-retired and tried to come back and play in Green Bay only to be told “we have a new leader in the clubhouse.”  Ouch.

What’s gotta make this worse for Tressel is the fact that he coached at the college level and got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  It takes a lifetime to get into sports, but it only takes one stupid decision to get out of it.  The thing about college coaches is that it oftentimes takes years at the coordinator level just to get considered for a head coaching job.  Imagine what his job prospects look like moving forward.  They probably don’t look too good.  But, keeping in mind that he decided to take one on the chin on Monday, my guess is that he’s been asked to absorb a body blow by the end of the week and that’s gotta be troubling not just for the folks at Ohio State, but for college football fans everywhere.

I know of no worse feeling in this world than that of being a disappointment.  I have personally experienced what that feels like and it’s awful.  So here are some words of advice for Coach Tressel going forward.

First off, forget that you made a mistake, but never forget that you made that mistake.  After I got in my first car accident, I turned to my Grandfather for advice.  It wasn’t my fault, the car accident that is, but I felt like it was, even though I was the victim.  He told me: “you’ve got to get back out there.”  Driving was a painful thing to do after that.  I’d be just driving and I’d think about someone coming out of nowhere and just annihilating my car.  It’s terrifying!  But, he was right.  If I hadn’t gone out and drove to work the next day, I probably would have been scared of driving or even riding in a car after that.  What we want to do and what we ought to do are often two different things.  If we didn’t do things we didn’t want to do we wouldn’t do anything.

Second, the most difficult part of rebuilding your life is going to be regaining trust.  There’s not an easy way to do that.  I recommend taking an altruistic approach, but that’s just because you’re damned if you do damned if you don’t.  One of the most important parts of regaining trust is allowing yourself to trust again.  When you make a lot of dumb decisions you start thinking to yourself “how did I get here?” or “What did I do to end up with these people?”  Those are perfectly relevant questions, but they’re questions that can be answered later.  Get rid of everyone in your life and see who comes back to you.  It’s like Marilyn Monroe said “if you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.”  Your family will come around to you eventually, but true friends will always be there to listen.

Finally, never lose faith in yourself.  People are going to write a lot of awful things about you.  I know because I just did.  In the same breath however, I understand the amount of hurt that a couple well put together sentences can yield.  I’ve been on the opposite end of quite a few in my life, but fortunately enough, I’ve been lucky to be allowed into a position where I can dish it out again.  I hope fate smiles on you like it smiled on me.  Everyone deserves a second chance as dumb and corny as that sounds.  The toughest thing to regain is your confidence in yourself.  Even when you think you’ve got it, you don’t and that’s something people are going to be able to read on you.  The best way to show everyone that you’ve moved on is to be motivated to do better things and be a better person.  If you reach high, you can’t end up any worse than in the middle.

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