Training fields

Jim Tressel suggests why Justin Fields and Bears are on a tough, uphill path


JIM TRESSEL’S NAME remains a reason many Ohio State fans still hoist a cup of grateful Buckeyes grog.

From afar, he has thoughts on Justin Fields’ rollercoaster existence as an apprentice starting QB of the Bears.

And, Tressel told the Daily Herald, they are mixed.

In his 10 seasons as head coach at OSU, Tressel’s teams went 106-22, won seven Big Ten championships, and played in three BCS title games.

Its 14-0 team in 2002 walked away with a national crown and was the first major college team since 1897 with such a prolific record.

TRESSEL, 69, IS CURRENTLY president of Youngstown State University. He announced that he would retire in February.

As head coach of YSU from 1986 to 2000, he and his Penguins played in six Division I-AA championship games and won four.

Few people knew how to win college football games as well as Tressel.

Few people are as knowledgeable about Ohio State quarterbacks’ historic struggles to succeed in the NFL as Tressel.



“The position of NFL QB is perhaps one of the most difficult roles in all of sports, especially for young players,” said “The Senator”. “The supporting cast has so much to do with the quarterback’s progress and confidence level.

“And of course the chemistry with the caller of the game (in this case, Bears OC Luke Getsy) is huge.

“I think one of the things our staff have done with our QBs over the years is figure out what they can do best and do it. In my twenty-five years as a head coach, we had eight different QBs that took us to nine nationals, in large part because we learned what they could do best.”

TRESSEL ALSO EXPLAINED why Ohio State quarterbacks have had such a hard time making the transition to the NFL.

In the past six decades, only Mike Tomczak — a 1985 free agent addition by the Super Bowl-bound Mike Ditka Bears — has retired with a winning record as a starter (42-31). This brand was split between the Staleys, Packers and Steelers.

Only two others in that span have even started more than 10 games. This duo is made up of Kent Graham (17-21) of Wheaton North and the late Dwayne Haskins (3-10), who at 24 was killed in a traffic accident last spring.

ACCORDING TO TRESSEL: “Maybe (it was) because our focus was always on their progression as a winning college QB and not necessarily thinking about the NFL. Or maybe the advantage they had with a very good supporting cast (in Columbus).

“I think Ryan Day is doing a terrific job training quarterbacks. I hope Justin Fields thrives – and so does CJ Stroud.”

In Jim Tressel’s world, high football hopes were a reality ever since he watched his father Lee Tressel make his College Football Hall of Fame career at D-III Baldwin-Wallace in suburban Cleveland.

But now, Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears?

A reasonable man – familiar with stories – would project a relatively short and mutually unsatisfying association.


Adam Amin will call his first Bears game of the season for Fox at Minnesota on Sunday. (Mark Schlereth is in the side seat; noon.) The rising Addison ace also began his third season as the Bulls’ television voice and will manage one of the NLDS for Fox alongside AJ Pierzynski. …

This Bill Weiland/Kansas cash train keeps rolling. Jalon Daniels and the undefeated Jayhawks are +7 at home on Saturday against a TCU team (4-0) still expected to come back from a landslide victory over Oklahoma last weekend. Even though the game is on FS1 (11 a.m.), ESPN sends “Game Day” to Lawrence for the very first time. …

Also on “Game Day”: If Chase Brown and the Fighting Illini (-4½) can get past Iowa on Saturday night (BTN, 6:40 p.m.), the longtime ESPN pre-player is expected to make his first Grange Grove appearance on October 15. That would be before Illinois-Minnesota. (Maybe they can get a REO Speedwagon tribute band opened.) …

A question to linger forever with McCuddy’s ghosts: What if Terry Francona had never left the White Sox organization and led the misdirected Schmox of 2022? (Answer: AL flag, at least.) …

And Sean Higgins, on all the North West honkers on the university’s plans for a new Ryan Stadium: “They can put their football field in Pat Fitzgerald’s family room and it still won’t beat the Ohio State.”

• Jim O’Donnell’s Sports and Media section appears Sunday and Thursday. Contact him at All communications may be considered for publication.

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