Nebraska, as you've probably heard, just hired themselves a new football coach, in former Oregon State headman Mike Riley. It was a surprising hire, since Riley wasn't one of the names that popped up a lot as potential candidates, like Oregon OC Scott Frost, or Ohio State OC Tom Herman.
There was one darkhorse candidate whose name has popped up several times in Nebraska Twitter, and from an ESPN host. He has an undisputed record of success. He seemed like a dynamite cultural fit for a place like Nebraska. And he already looks great with Nebraska's color scheme.
I'm talking about former Ohio State coach, and current Youngstown State University President, Jim Tressel.
And I'm sorry to burst your bubble, internet. But there is absolutely no way in hell Jim Tressel is coaching anywhere in the near future. Here's why:
Jim Tressel is still under NCAA sanctions
Given how attitudes about athlete compensation have changed over the last few years, the Tatgate scandal at Ohio State seems relatively small potatoes now, but the NCAA didn't feel that way. When the vest resigned from Ohio State in 2011, the NCAA slapped a show-cause penalty on him, which will last until December 16th, 2016. If Jim Tressel coaches during this period, not only would Nebraska have to file a ton of paperwork and put themselves squarely in the NCAA crosshairs, but Tressel would also need to serve a five game suspension at the start of the season, and would remain suspended for any bowl game or Big Ten Championship during that era.
Nebraska, or any other program that decides to hire Tressel, might look at recent history with Penn State and other major sanctions, and assume that the NCAA might lower his penalty, or consider it "time served". Honestly though, trying to predict how the NCAA will react to any kind of sanctioning is impossible. At the very least, anybody that hires Tressel will be contributing a lot of money and resources to somebody who effectively can't coach for half a season, and will be bringing a lot of heat from the sport's law enforcement arm.
Jim Tressel is not going to screw Youngstown State University
You're probably aware that Tressel isn't in coaching anymore. He was a non-athletic administrator for the University of Akron from 2012-2013, and is now the president of Youngstown State University. He just started this gig back in May, and given his lack of a PhD, his hiring was a significant leap of faith by the university.
Youngstown State has recently been burned by a president cutting and running quickly. Randy Dunn, the leader of the school before Tressel, was only with Youngstown State for seven months, before he quit to take the job at Southern Illinois. Replacing a president so quickly is an expensive proposition for the school, delays fundraising and academic projects, and is generally a mess. Having to do it twice in such a short period of time would be a huge hit.
Tressel cares about this stuff. He's from Mentor, less than an hour and a half away from YSU. He coached at Youngstown State, raised funds for Youngstown State, has an athletic center named after him, and is revered by the school and the town. He's Northern Ohio to the core, and knowing the damage he'd do to the school and the community by leaving so quickly, he wouldn't torpedo all of that goodwill to coach somewhere out of state. You can critique a lot of things about Jim Tressel, but you can't say he isn't loyal.
Jim Tressel is not acting like somebody who wants to get back into college coaching
There are certain things that people do when they're not coaching, but want to get back into coaching. Maybe they take a high profile TV job. They hang around other coaches during fall and spring camps. They talk to the press about wanting to get back into the game. We all have a pretty good idea about who would be open to a job if it opening (see: Nutt, Houston).
Jim Tressel hasn't done any of that. Outside of a brief consulting gig with the Colts, Tressel has been mostly absent from the football world. Instead, he's flung himself deep into higher education administration, applying for multiple university president openings (he also tried to become the university president at Akron), and has been very happy with his career letting him mentor young people in a different way. In January, he did say that he had an interest in the NFL, but nothing about getting back into the college game.
Jim Tressel may not even be that great of a fit for another college gig
Tressel was an exceptionally successful college coach, but that doesn't mean that this would be a 100% slam dunk hire. Given the NCAA situation, and the ethical cloud surrounding Tressel, any university that hires him is going to get a lot of blowback, not just from the NCAA, but from the press, some fans, and even some academics within the school. It's going to be a huge story, for good or for ill, and that may not be best for everybody.
Tressel is 62 years old. Even if he decided to go somewhere else, he wouldn't be going there for very long. He hasn't coached at all since 2011. Will a school want to do all of this again in five, six years? Given the amount of money, the amount of pressure, and all the other external headaches, wouldn't there be other candidates with strong upsides without the drama?
It's difficult to see the guy throw his new career away, torch his hometown and most of the goodwill he's managed to build up again, and travel to a place where he has no ties, for a job he won't keep for that long.
Jim Tressel back in the college game would make for great theatre. It'd make for some great stories. But it just isn't going to happen.