AKRON, Ohio -- Inside the cover of Jim Tressel's class binder, on the heading of the first page, are three words in bold type: Coaching Is Teaching.
The terms are synonymous to Tressel. A successful coach must be a successful teacher. The link between the two is the starting point for the "General Principles of Coaching" course Tressel is teaching this semester at the University of Akron alongside Jim Dennison, the former Akron coach who gave Tressel his first job in the business back in 1975.
Tressel is no longer coaching, at least not directly, after a 36-year career. Nearly three full seasons have passed since he last led the Ohio State Buckeyes onto the field. The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, which Tressel dominated during a decade as Buckeyes coach, resumes Saturday at Michigan Stadium, but Tressel won't be there.
His coaching career, which featured national championships at two levels of college football, ended on a sour note on Memorial Day of 2011, when he resigned at Ohio State amid an NCAA investigation. His career is at least on pause and perhaps over for good. But Tressel, Akron's vice president for student success, is still teaching and impacting young people, perhaps now more than ever.
"Coaching is teaching," he said. "My division of student success is just the effort for us to be successful with 26, 27 thousand students, as opposed to student success for 100 [players]. Recruiting is recruiting; it's just a larger group of prospects. Advising is advising. Financial aid, not much different than where are we going to spend our scholarships when we had X number in football.
--Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio
"Everything in my past life, dealing with the public, dealing with schools, dealing with students, dealing with colleagues, really has been a tremendous preparation."
Tressel's influence can be seen throughout the Big Ten, where three of his former assistants -- Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, Illinois' Tim Beckman and Purdue's Darrell Hazell -- are head coaches, and many of his former aides are scattered throughout the league. Some members of his coaching tree think he'll return; all think he still has plenty to offer.
Others point to his new role as a better fit for the 60-year-old, a platform where he can do the work that, at its core, drives him the most.
"Jim Tressel is about young people," Dantonio said. "Is that football? I think he misses the competitiveness of it, I'm sure, but I also think he enjoys what he's doing at Akron. It's a very big job. Sometimes you ask yourself, how many people can I impact?
"You can impact a lot of people in what he's doing. He's in a good place."
The plan called for a full year off, to be spent mostly reading. It lasted three months before Tressel joined the Indianapolis Colts as a game-day consultant on replays. When the Colts dismissed their coaching staff after the 2011 season, Tressel needed a new door to open.