Jim Tressel talks to fans at doorstep
UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio -- Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel told people at a rally on his front doorstep that he would always be a Buckeye and that the team will beat Michigan again this November.
After a crowd of some 200 people had sung a song disparaging the archrival Wolverines early Saturday evening, Tressel said, "Don't forget: Nov. 26th we're going to kick their ass!"
Don't forget: Nov. 26th we're going to kick their ass!” -- Jim Tressel at doorstep fan rally regarding Michigan game
That brought the loudest cheer of the day from the group, which had walked a half mile in 90-degree heat from a rallying point at a nearby park to Tressel's expansive French Provincial home in this Columbus suburb near campus.
Tressel was forced to resign Monday for his role in covering up his knowledge of his players taking improper benefits from a Columbus tattoo-parlor owner.
Those in the rally cheered, sang the alma mater and held up signs that said, "You're in Our Prayers," "We Support You, Jim!" and "We Love You, Coach Tressel."
Tressel and his wife, Ellen, posed for dozens of pictures, shook hands and thanked those in attendance.
He had memorably guaranteed that the Buckeyes would beat archrival Michigan at an Ohio State basketball game shortly after he had taken the job in January 2001.
Saturday's rally was reminiscent of those held for two past Ohio State coaches. After Woody Hayes was fired for punching a Clemson player late in the 1978 Gator Bowl, hundreds of fans came to his residence to thank him.
The same thing happened after Hayes' successor, Earle Bruce, was fired late in the 1987 season. Again, a large group of fans and members of the university's band came to Bruce's house to serenade him with songs.
Five Ohio State players -- including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor -- have been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for accepting improper benefits from a tattoo-shop owner. The NCAA continues to investigate Ohio State, which goes before the NCAA's committee on infractions on Aug. 12.
But the fans who walked from Thompson Park didn't dwell on the negatives.
One fan wore a red, white and blue T-shirt that said, "Jim Tressel For President."
"We're going to be Buckeyes for life," Tressel said, his arm around his wife. "What's that old saying? Buckeye born and bred, a Buckeye 'til I'm dead."
The crowd cheered when he finished.
He showed no emotion, thanking the fans as they departed after 20 minutes or so.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press