Former Buckeye and Current Steeler on Jim Tressel: “His biggest mistake was trying to protect his players to a fault.”

June 2, 2011 – 10:00 am by Michael Bean

Let the fallout and reaction to Jim Tressel’s resignation continue. The former Ohio State Buckeyes coach is out in Columbus as of Memorial Day. Since then, a parade of former players have come to his defense. Add Will Allen to the list. Now a reserve defensive back and special teams ace for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Allen starred on Tressel’s 2002 BCS champion team and apparently has stayed in fairly frequent contact with Tressel since graduating.

Allen joined 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh to talk about Tressel’s resignation, the wave of negative press the Buckeyes program has been receiving, how he’ll forever be grateful to Tressel for all he taught him about life, and how his biggest mistake was trying to protect his players to a fault.

Allen got right to it when asked about his general thoughts on the scandal:

“It’s just tough, it’s really tough. Especially for those who don’t know Coach Tressel as a man and as a person, and they look at him and scrutinize this situation and judge him so harshly. I can understand that because when much is given, much is required. And he’s been a man of integrity, a man that sets himself at a very high standard. Some of the standards that are expected of him are higher than a lot of people in society because he’s in a position of leadership and just because of who he is. So whenever he does something wrong or is out of line, it’s blown up out of proportion just a little bit. I understand he withheld information, he wasn’t as vulnerable as he needed to be and forthcoming, and he lied about it, so he has to reap what he sows and own up to his responsibility.  On the flip side, we as a sports world and media outlets or people, we have to understand that he’s a man, and we have to be a little more compassionate and a little more patient when he was protecting his players. I’ve known Tressel 10 years now since he came in in 2001, and he’s done nothing but teach me how to become a man, teach me just how to be more positive and influential in the communities that I’ve been in. And that’s what he’s preached, I think that’s what he wants to do, and I think that’s the legacy he wants to leave, and it was just a bad situation for him. We have to look at the whole picture, his whole resume and not just look at this one incident and say ‘down with Ohio State, down with Coach Tressel’ and have so much persecution towards him. That’s my only thing because he just taught me so much and educated me on how to live right, how to become a man, how to live as a character of integrity, and he embodies that every day of his life. And I can’t sit here outside of football and say he’s an evil person, he’s malicious, he has all these intents, the hell with him.’ When I know that’s not in his character, I know that’s not the type of heart he has. That’s just my take on it because I know him personally and I’ve been around him, and I’ve been around the program and know how he operates. He’s a person, he’s a man, he’s going to make mistakes. Because we’ve all done that; we all haven’t lived in a perfect light, we all haven’t done perfect things, and we all have done things to hurt other people. And I think in this situation, if you’ve done that you have to consider it.”

On if he’d ever been to or heard anything about the tattoo parlor where players were trading memorabilia:

“I’ve never been. I don’t have any tattoos so I don’t know anything about this tattoo parlor, but obviously it exists because players were trading in their memorabilia. But again, these players can do whatever they want, that’s their choice. But I think Tressel, he laid out the groundworks and the parameters and said ‘you guys are 20, 19, 18 years old, if you do X, Y or Z, then these are the repercussions for it. So I think it was the players’ choice at that point to do that. Where I think he messed up is he tried to protect them to a fault. Because they were his players, he probably knew he needed them, I don’t know what his exact thinking was. But he tried to protect them to a fault and that’s the mistake that he made.  But I don’t know this tattoo parlor, the significance that it has, whether it goes all the way back to Maurice Clarett or not. I’ve never went there so I don’t know.”

Listen here to Allen with Seibel, Starkey & Miller on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh

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