YOUNGSTOWN – Like everything over time, college football has seen some changes since Jim Tressel commanded the touchlines at Ohio State and Youngstown State.
Since the outgoing YSU president left coaching in 2011, not only has a four-team playoff been introduced, but college football has adjusted its transfer rules, now allowing athletes to earn their share of the revenue pie by trading of their name , their image and their likeness (NIL ).
Prior to the transfer portal’s establishment in 2018, physical education students in sports like soccer and basketball were required to take a year off when transferring to another school at the same level unless the NCAA approved a waiver to play immediately at the new school. If they moved down – from FBS to FCS or from Division I to Division II – they could play right away, or if they had a grad transfer they could play right away.
“I saw quite a change in Division I-AA at this point,” Tressel spoke about the transfer rules during his time as YSU coach. “We had a series of transfers that came and sat for a year and got on our feet academically. They spent time learning the culture of our program and then went on to have really great careers. But I found that the success rate of the transfer wasn’t that good when they made the switch and were immediately eligible.”
In recent years, however, the waiver has become something of a formality and the transfer portal has evolved into something of a free agency in collegiate athletics. Tressel said he disagrees with the new rules, which allow athletes to be eligible to compete immediately.
“Part of the discussion was, how come a coach can walk and doesn’t have to sit? So I understand all the arguments and discussions.” said Tressel. “I think for the student’s long-term benefit, the best thing to do is sit for a year, getting acquainted with your new academic curriculum, your new academic structure and your new program. Pay some fees if you will. I think collegiate athletics and high school athletics have gotten a little more professional than they were. But it is reality – it is the world we live in.”
But even with the new rules, changes will continue to be made. For example, in August, the NCAA approved the creation of specific transfer windows for each sports season while also adopting new, more specific standards for the immediate waiver of claims.
An unintended consequence of the new transfer rules has been the impact they have on high school athletes. With college coaches now being able to fill a roster spot with another college athlete, who may or may not have previous college experience, rather than a high school player, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for high school recruits.
Tressel said he understands there will be fewer opportunities for high school athletes, but adds they can still try to make the most of their college experience by playing at a lower level and then when they do perform well, switch to the higher tiers.
“We know this is a changed world – how can we make it the best it can be?” said Tressel. “The difficult part is that the NCAA has to make a legal judgment and, on the other hand, what’s best for the student and for the college programs. I think they’re working hard to find out.”
NIL is something Tressel didn’t have to navigate during his days as a college coach.
On July 1, 2021, the NCAA’s new policy, allowing collegiate athletes to capitalize on their name, image and likeness, went into effect following a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in the NCAA v. Alston case.
At its core, NIL means that collegiate athletes now have an opportunity to make money by endorsements, performing, posting on social media, writing books, hosting camps, teaching, selling memorabilia, and various other commercial endeavors without going against the violating NCAA rules.
“Like most things, it changes in inches.” said Tressel. “When I first started coaching 45-50 years ago, collegiate athletics wasn’t big business. I think where we are now with NIL because when it changed the student athlete wasn’t given any part of that change, we’re at a point now where we’re not coming up with some smart things like maybe some annuities – things that could have really benefited students who played in college and earned that money in the long run – now it’s all about what can i get now?
Tressel’s coaching career ended when he resigned from Ohio State in May 2011 after multiple NCAA violations were exposed as part of the Buckeyes program.
It was reported that several players traded memorabilia for services they provided with a tattoo parlor in Columbus. An investigation found that Tressel became aware of this in March 2010 but did not report it to university officials and continued to field players he knew were ineligible.
Today something like this would probably have been decent in today’s climate with the NIL rules. Also, the same players who were then found to have violated NCAA rules would now likely have their own NIL deals, especially with a program like Ohio State, eliminating the need to sell memorabilia for money or services rendered.
Still, Tressel said in retrospect that he had no qualms about how his time with the Buckeyes ended.
“I think whenever you’re a part of something, if you’re a part of it, you’re a part of it.” said Tressel. “The rules are what the rules are at the moment, the rules are like that. The rules are different now. But the rules were no different then. So I never look back and say I was mistreated or whatever. I’ve always looked at it from the teacher’s point of view, not the business point of view. So you make decisions, people around you make decisions, and sometimes those decisions affect you.”
“I’ve always believed that whatever the consequences, no matter what situation you find yourself in, you learn your lessons from it.”
In the case of Ohio State, the Buckeyes ranked #1 nationwide for total NIL compensation among all of their student-athletes and for total number of student-athletes with at least one NIL deal, according to Front Office Sports this past summer.
For example, according to On3, Buckeyes star quarterback CJ Stroud has an estimated NIL rating of $2.7 million, while star receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.’s valuation is around $1.4 million. But that’s in the high end. For most other soccer players, the valuation number was between $30,000 and $100,000.
Nonetheless, as the amount of money began to spread, Tressel said he was a “a bit scared” about where things could go with NIL. He said he was primarily concerned about the student’s long-term future.
“I think there are a lot of good people trying to sit down and talk about how we can make the best of the situation and I think my feeling is that we should always come back to what’s best for the.” student is affecting his long life. area future”, said Tressel. “It’s going like now, well what’s the best thing I can do for this student so I can get him to play on my team. It’s tough. I hope we figure all this out, but I don’t think you’ll be able to do without some bumpy times and some hard lessons. But that’s life.”
Today’s breaking news and more in your inbox