Carroll, Tressel as different as coaches can be
By Rusty Miller
COLUMBUS, Ohio ó One springs practical jokes on his team, oozes charisma and sprinkles his conversation with the word idude.î Heís been called an iaging hipster dad.î
The other wears sweater vests, refers to his players as iyoung championsî and appears to part his hair with a laser pointer itís so straight. Even those closest to him marvel at his single-point focus and privately chuckle that he may not have human emotions.
Southern Californiaís Pete Carroll and Ohio Stateís Jim Tressel are both in their mid-50s and have been coaching ultra-successful college football programs for eight seasons.
They meet in a showdown Saturday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Their programs have so much in common, yet it would be hard to fathom two more different personalities at the top.
iCarroll is like one of the kids. I canít wait to see him when heís 70,î said Trev Alberts, former Nebraska star and an analyst for CBS College Sports. iTressel couldnít be that way ó heíd get laughed at. But he is very comfortable and confident in who he is and how he does things.î
Both are hard workers, of course. Both have also been accused of being overly ambitious. Theyíve taken widely divergent paths to get to the apex of their sport.
Carroll, like Tressel, was a quarterback in high school. He spent three years as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Pacific, before working as a GA for another season at Arkansas. Earle Bruce, then the coach at Iowa State, gave him his first full-time job coaching the secondary in 1978 and then brought him along when he succeeded Hall of Famer Woody Hayes as the head coach at Ohio State in 1979.
Bruce, now retired and living part of the year in Columbus where he is an Ohio State football analyst on radio, remembers Carroll as a young, raw coach.
iPete was alert, he knew the game of football,î he said. iHe could relate well with kids. But the Southern Cal kid he would relate to better. He really fits the Southern Cal job very, very well.î
Carroll spent only one year at Ohio State, but has vivid memories.
One day he was sitting in a football office at drab St. John Arena. He then spotted Hayes, who had been fired for punching a player at the 1978 Gator Bowl, walking back from teaching a class. Carroll ran outside.
iI introduced myself and we walked for about 10 minutes. He knew who I was. I was all thrilled,î Carroll said. iWe talked football. That was my one chance I had to visit with him.î
Six years later, Carroll was an NFL assistant. After nine years as an assistant he spent a year as the head coach of the New York Jets, going 6-10. Fired from that job, he spent two more years back in his hometown of San Francisco as the 49ersí defensive coordinator before going 27-21 in three years as the head coach of the New England Patriots. Let go after the 1999 season, he was hired at USC in 2001. Since then, all heís done is go 76-14, win national championships in 2003 and 2004 and guide his team to the No. 1 spot this year.
iPete is very effervescent, very likable,î said former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, now an analyst for ESPN. iHe has high energy.î
Tressel, the son of a legendary Ohio small-college coach, has never coached in high school or the pros. His stops along the way to the capital of football-mad Ohio included Akron, Miami (Ohio) and Syracuse before he was hired by Bruce to coach quarterbacks in 1983.
After three years with the Buckeyes, Tressel became the head coach at Youngstown State in 1986 and in 15 seasons led the Penguins to four I-AA national championships. When John Cooper was fired after the 2000 season, Tressel beat out former Ohio State player (and Minnesota head coach) Glen Mason for the Buckeyesí job.
Wells not likely to play
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) ó Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Thursday it is doubtful that starting tailback Chris iBeanieî Wells will play Saturday night against No. 1 Southern California.
Tressel said there was lingering soreness for Wells in his right foot after he worked out Wednesday night. Wells didnít practice with the team Thursday morning just before it departed for Los Angeles.
iWe were hoping heíd wake up this morning and feel even better than yesterday,î Tressel said shortly before boarding the team bus to the airport. iBut it didnít happen. Weíll see from here.î
Wells injured his right foot in the fifth-ranked Buckeyesí opener against Youngstown State, didnít play last week against Ohio and hasnít had contact in partial practices this week. He flew with the team Thursday afternoon.
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