Jim Tressel has a lot of fond memories about his days as head football coach at The Ohio State University.
He officially won 94 games in his 11 seasons as the Buckeyes' sideline boss. His 2002 team claimed the BCS National Championship with a hard-earned, double overtime, victory over Miami, Fla., to finish 14-0.
The Cleveland-born Tressel is also second behind the legendary Woody Hayes with eight wins over that team up north, as Hayes, who had twice that many, would refer to hated rival, Michigan. In fact, to take that one step further, Tressel is the only OSU football coach to beat the Wolverines seven straight seasons.
However, according to the 60-year-old, those laurels are secondary to all the relationships he made while in coaching.
"You think back to all the guys that you have coached and coached with. All the fans you met," he said prior to speaking at Ohio University Eastern Friday afternoon as part of Premiere Bank & Trust's College Readiness Program. "Just all the people that you've had the chance to interact with.
"That's what you remember, no matter where you've been," he added. "It doesn't have to be Ohio State. It could be Youngstown State, Miami of Ohio or Akron when I coached there."
Currently employed at the University of Akron as Vice President of Strategic Engagement, Tressel said he is happy with his new role, which he said is basically the same duties that he had during his 38-year coaching career.
He was hired at Akron following his resignation as Ohio State head coach two years ago this month during an NCAA investigation of rules violations during the 2010 season; which, in turn, led to the Buckeyes self-vacating the victories from their 2010 season, including the 2011 Sugar Bowl.
In hindsight, how would he have handled the scandal differently?
"I think any time you look back at situations, you talk about maybe you would've communicated better or sought help from those who could help you handle whatever situation arises, but that's not the way life works," he said.
"You're not allowed to go back and have do-overs from that standpoint. Just like after you run a play in football, you can't replay it."
From September of 2011 until February 2012, Tressel was employed by the Indianapolis Colts as a consultant.
Does he miss coaching?
"There hasn't been one day where I've woke up and said 'I've gotta coach again.' I don't feel like after coaching 38 years, 25 as a head coach, that there's not much I didn't get a chance to experience.
"I've been at all levels of coaching, wins-losses, recruited all over the country," he continued. "However, at the moment, this new challenge (at Akron) gets me going. I'm not saying this is forever. I never do that, but this feels good."
If he would make a return to the sidelines, would he better be suited for college of the NFL.
"The short little time I spent in the NFL, I found out there's a a more stable lifestyle, especially if you're an NFL coach," he noted. "You're not out there recruiting. chasing teenagers around. You're not putting on youth camps for 4,000 people. You're not doing a lot of those things that a college coach does.
"I'm sure I would be happy doing either, but like I said earlier, I'm kind of happy doing what I'm doing."
Would he ever consider a career in broadcasting?
"No. I don't think I could do that," he stressed. "The only reason I say that is because I don't think you can really be your own guy. I wouldn't do good with someone whispering in my earpiece telling me what topic to talk about or what subject to bring up. I just couldn't do that."
How does he feel about the Buckeyes in 2013?
"I still follow them," he said of the Buckeyes. "Probably not as much as I used to because I followed them 24 hours a day when I was the head coach. I'm probably just as big a fan now, not as crazy as some, but the fact that I still have some of my kids (one's he recruited) there.
"They will be good again this season," he continued. "Any time you've got talent, and we've got a lot of it; and you've got a talented quarterback like we do, which Braxton might be one of the best in the country; and you've got a coaching staff that knows how to win; and the great tradition, I think they will be good for a long time."
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org