It seemed hard to believe. Maybe the plot from a novel or a movie looking to build anticipation. Nobody was aware it was coming so there was no advance notice. Two former arch rivals joined forces Tuesday to watch the Cleveland Browns practice in Berea, Ohio.
Former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr stood on the sidelines watching Colt McCoy throw BB’s at receivers. Standing beside Carr and making his first public appearance since his resignation was former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel.
There was the pair, speaking jovially with each other. Not letting on that the visit was making national headlines. They were there to watch a practice. Something for years they both had no time to do because they had workouts and teams of their own.
Neither purposely stayed away from the media, but they didn’t go out of their way looking for an interview either. Tressel, who grew up near Cleveland, has been a lifelong Browns fan and just wanted to see the team prepare. Carr is a fan of Coach Pat Shurmur and came for a visit. Neither knew the other would be there.
After practice Tressel and Carr spoke with Browns President Mike Holmgren. Tressel said he was thrilled to again see Carr. Carr offered the same and said he has a lifelong respect for Tressel, a man he hopes will one day coach again.
While leaving, Tressel’s car was surrounded by fans asking for his autograph. Without hesitation Tressel stopped and signed most of them. The crowd began chanting “Go Bucks”
One fan asked Tressel if he would coach again. To which Tressel responded he hoped to and he was just taking things one day at a time.
One media Big Mouth in Cleveland reported the Browns security staff had been instructed to keep the media away from guests, meaning Tressel. This was not the case.
Tressel didn’t speak with reporters after practice, walking with Carr off the field. But later, after touring the Browns’ headquarters with team president Mike Holmgren, Tressel politely answered a few questions for two reporters in the parking lot. Neither asked him about the Ohio State incidents.
Tressel was asked about McCoy. During a break, McCoy ran over and greeted Tressel. While at Texas, McCoy twice faced Tressel, losing to the Buckeyes in his second game as a freshman and beating Ohio State as a junior in the Fiesta Bowl. McCoy said afterwards he has a deep respect for Tressel and was excited both he and Carr were on hand.
Despite the ill feelings some fans and the media, especially ESPN, have for Tressel, he has proved to be a class act throughout this entire episode. He is obviously a man of great class and many will say he cheated, (which is not true) and a liar. He may be branded a liar, but he did it to protect players. Something many coaches would not do. To this day, Tressel has not spoken ill of the 5 players, including Terrelle Pryor, which cost him his job at Ohio State.
Tressel still receives respect from his fellow coaches and those in the know. Including Carr. Carr gave his feelings to reporters after practice.
“We all feel for Jim, and if I know him, he’ll rebound.”