With the swift hire of Scott Shafer, we didn't get a lot of time to discuss many of the possible head coaching candidates. Dan Lyons and Matt McClusky debate the merits of former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel.
Welcome to 'Fun with Hypotheticals', where the debates are kept in the world of fiction and the points don't matter...because Dr. Gross hired Scott Shafer before we were able to finish this piece and post it. But why waste good words? Today: if Syracuse had launched a full coaching search, should they have discussed bringing in embattled former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, despite his show-cause penalty?
*Parts of this post were written before the hiring of Scott Shafer
Under normal circumstances Tressel would never be on any candidates list for Syracuse. I mean, he's won national titles at the FCS and FBS level, for crying out loud! But with Tressel on the outside looking in, some fans think he may be desperate enough to listen to SU, and just the same, SU may be desperate enough to look at Tressel. He needs another chance, SU is kind of in the lurch and needs the right guy, now.
Still, I think looking at Tressel is a horrible idea. Yes, I know he coached at SU (QBs coach, 1981-82) and I know he's got the credentials (including recent work with the Indianapolis Colts), but there are too many negatives. Actually he has one HUGE negative -- show-cause. As in, Tressel was hit with a five year probation sentence.
Regardless of what you think about the NCAA investigation that brought him down - lying about tattoos essentially. The fact is Tressel did lie, did try to cover things up, and did allow things in his program to get a little too lax. That's baggage -- major, moving your family across country in a U-Haul baggage.
Because of the show-cause penalty any school who takes a chance on him has to prove it shouldn't face sanctions just for hiring him. That means Daryl Gross, PHD and company would have to sit in front of NCAA reps, like they were on trial, just to convince them SU shouldn't be faced with penalties! Is any coach worth that?
Plus, if SU were to take that risk and Tressel violated any NCAA rules the Syracuse could face major penalty. Essentially, the NCAA could look at the program as repeat-violators simply because it hired Tressel. Again, is ANY coach worth that?
I say no. No coach is worth that embarrassment and potential hardship. One slip up with Tressel could cost the program dearly. There are a number of lesser-known but very qualified coaches out there who deserve a look. Let's not forget Tressel coached for one year in Syracuse, it's not like he has any advantage in knowing the area, school, or recruiting targets.
Basically, he's a big name and that's the biggest draw. But he's also the candidate with the biggest drawback and that's enough of a reason to move on to the next name on the list.
In a full coaching search, at the crossroads where Syracuse football currently finds itself, I don't think any stone can be left unturned. Jim Tressel may be a giant boulder that requires a large team and some heavy machinery to lift, but I think his resume and experience speaks for itself. The man has a national championship and spent years at the absolute pinnacle of the sport. I'm not necessarily advocating for the hiring of Tressel, I think that the baggage he comes with is a giant hurdle, but if we're being serious about competing at the highest level of college football, we have to at least take a look at what he might be able to bring, right?
Tressel comes from and coached in Ohio, a state where Syracuse does a decent amount of recruiting. He coached quarterbacks at Syracuse (fact: every coach ever spent a year under Coach Mac apparently). He and Scott Shafer are both quarterback alumni from Baldwin-Wallace University, so there is a chance he would retain the popular coordinator. For all of the baggage he brings, he brings equal amounts of coaching credibility...and really, do those tattoos and sold jerseys seem all that bad now, anyway? Even at Syracuse, if Jim Tressel knocks on a recruit's door and brings his national championship ring, that player is going to listen to what he has to say.
The show-cause does seem like a major annoyance for an athletic department, and I don't pretend to know the full ramifications of it, but the five missed games and one missed bowl don't seem THAT bad. Hire a few extra compliance people and be extra dilligent on keeping things clean. Draw up a contract that is voided with any violations. I'm sure there are precautions that SU could take to make sure that everything stays in order.
My argument is less for Tressel specifically, and more for making sure that the best possible coach on the market get a legitimate look. While I doubt Syracuse would ever make a hire like this, even kicking the tires on it would show that the University is making a real effort in fielding a top football program, and one day, competing for a second national championship.