Cleveland Browns: Why Jim Tressel should be the next president

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 12: Former Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel talks with the media before the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT
ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 12: Former Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel talks with the media before the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT /

The Cleveland Browns need a credible leader to be the face of their organization, and that man is former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel.

The answer the Cleveland Browns have been looking for currently sits at the president’s desk of Youngstown State University.

He grew up in Berea, not far from where the Browns are headquartered now on Lou Groza Way. He’s both an experienced football mind and top-notch administrator.

Yeah, chances are you know this guy: He’s Jim Tressel.

Tressel makes a world of sense to fill the vacant president’s role within the Browns organization.

No, he wouldn’t coach, and he wouldn’t even be tasked with targeting free agents, scouting the college draft or having final say over the 53-man roster.

His No. 1 priority would be to bring credibility to a franchise that quite frankly, doesn’t have any, and hasn’t had any for a long, long time.

As the leader of a public institution, in addition to his past job as an executive with the University of Akron, Tressel has built upon his already impressive resume as a national championship winning football coach.

Tressel must be a leader with an ability to problem solve with an eye on the future.

You can look at the Penguins football program, where Bo Pelini has brought back Youngstown State to relevance for the first time since Tressel departed the school to lead the Buckeyes, but that doesn’t scratch the surface of what it takes to run an entire university.

When Tressel, who turns 65 Dec. 5, took the president’s job, the Youngstown State job was unstable.  Crain’s Cleveland Business reporter Rachel Abbey McCafferty described the leadership turnover as “a bit of a roller coaster.”

Tressel went to work. He vowed to make YSU a “solid, mid-major research institution. The recruiter who once dazzled with names he brought into Ohio State began expanding Youngstown’s State’s reach beyond the counties that bordered the Mahoning Valley.

There had been an 18 percent enrollment decline from 2010 to 2015, according to Crain’s, while the state’s other public university’s saw enrollment increases.

In 2016, the school saw a slight enrollment increase. In 2017, the school’s enrollment rose five percent from the previous year, according to

After taking over, he cut the operating budget by about $5 million. For Youngstown State, the school operated–for the first time in five years– without a structural operating deficit, according to Crain’s.

He’s also dealt with dark clouds as well, navigating the school out of a possible faculty strike earlier this fall.

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You can see how this all relates to the Browns. The franchise needs stability. That, along with leadership, is what Jim Tressel brings to the table.

Winning football games is ultimately what it’s all about, but the Browns are in such dire straits. The football team needs saved, but the organization needs rescued, too.

The connection between the Browns and Tressel seems so obvious. Randy Lerner made overtures to Tressel about coaching during the height of his run at Ohio State, but nothing ever came to fruition. The timing wasn’t right.

But now, there’s no better time for Tressel to take the job.

For those who fear another Mike Holmgren type hire, you probably don’t have to worry. It’d be hard to imagine Tressel just “mailing it in” like Holmgren did. After all, Tressel’s from Berea. There’s a street there named after his dad, Lee.  He’s invested in the region.

Jim Tressel giving less than 100 percent to running the Cleveland Browns? That sentence doesn’t compute.

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A stable leader that would have every single Browns fan back on board looking toward the future is out there, but ultimately, the ball is in the court of Cleveland’s ownership. Jim Tressel for President. Start the campaign!