Wednesday, September 4, 2013

For Tressel, first down, one inch to score?

Are you eagerly into the Tressel Era at the University of Akron?

The iconic ex-football coach seems to be on a lot of people's lips as the looming successor to retiring President Luis Proenza.

Oh, there are scoffers to be sure.  They shrug  off all talk of a Tressel advance to chief executive as, well, you've probably heard the same expletives. But  the dot-connector will tell you that Tressel is on the one-inch line on first down, a breath away from Touchdown Heaven.  "It's a done deal,'' one told me, resigned to the connecting dots.

I haven't  seen any of the big shots on campus in the UA club, including the trustees who are engaged in the pro forma search committee, dismiss the possibility.  And Tressel told the Chronicle of Higher Education that he would be "flattered and interested" if he were offered the job.

The Aug. 28 edition of the Chronicle was less enthusiastic about the idea, noting that Tressel was asked to leave OSU because of the  silent treatment he gave to the sale of athletic memorabilia by several players in return for tattoos or cash.  The Chronicle also declared that he "lacks the traditional credentials of a  college president.  He has earned praise from Akron's president and Board for his work as an administrator, but for most of his career Mr. Tressel has viewed academe through the lens of a big-time college-football coach."

Still, in the current Tressel Era at UA, I have to think metaphorically about that one-inch line to the goal.  And as the school's critics have raised serious questions about the Proenza administration's hot kitchen on falling enrollment, cutbacks on faculty and the plunge into deeper debt, Tressel's name keeps appearing in his role as vice president, marketed by title as  "strategic engagement".

Which brings me to the latest Tressel  initiative that appeared today on the front-page of the Beacon Journal as a a putatively upbeat  sign that UA is trying hard to redefine its image, come hell or high water.

Tressel is promoting a program that will pay part-timers $8 an hour (!)  - 25 cents higher than Ohio's  minimum wage - to work with students to improve their academic chances of staying in school.

But you will need at least  10 years of teaching experience (do x's and o's on the game plan count?)   and it would doubtless help if you had a master's degree. "We're looking for people who want to make difference," Tressel told the BJ.

At their entry-level  pay scale, they would have to be desperate to put food on the table.

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