Jim Tressel on Ohio State vs. Michigan: 'The Buckeyes will make us proud in Ann Arbor'

Colin Gay
The Columbus Dispatch

Jim Tressel made a strong first impression on Ohio State fans.

At halftime of the Buckeyes' men's basketball matchup against Michigan Jan. 18, 2001, the newly-hired Ohio State football coach took the microphone and told the crowd that they would "be proud of our young people in the classroom, in the community, and, most especially, in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan," launching a streak of 17 Ohio State wins in 19 tries against the Wolverines.

According to the Toledo Blade's David Briggs, Tressel said this impromptu speech had been what he had been thinking during the interview process, making it clear how important the Michigan rivalry was to him.

And now, Tressel is giving Ohio State fans a similar pep talk.

“There’s no question,” Tressel told the Toledo Blade, “that I think the Buckeyes will make us proud in Ann Arbor.”

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After eight consecutive wins against Michigan under coaches Urban Meyer and Ryan Day from 2012-19, Ohio State has lost two straight games against the Wolverines in 2021 and 2022, coming off its first home loss against Michigan since 2000.

Heading into the 2023 season, Tressel calls on Ohio State to "go up (to Ann Arbor) and turn it in the other direction."

** FILE ** Ohio State coach Jim Tressel walks the sidelines during his team's 32-19 win over Michigan State, in this Nov. 6, 2004 photo, in East Lansing, Mich. Tressel will be paid almost $2.4 million this season as part of a new seven-year contract. Tressel has yet to sign the contract, Ohio State spokesman Steve Snapp said Thursday. Snapp said the sixth-year coach and Ohio State officials have agreed in principal to the deal. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

“I've really grown to be a believer, whether it’s a society, a family, or a football team, until you suffer a little bit, it’s hard to learn lessons,” Tressel said. “Now, we've suffered. I tell people all the time, the strength of our 2002 national championship team was that they were done suffering. They'd been 6-6, 8-4, 7-5. They’d had it. They weren’t going to lose. ... Michigan might have suffered a long time, and maybe they felt like they've suffered enough. We’re all allowed to learn lessons. It’s not just the Buckeyes. Now I think you’re going to see a real square-off, and I’ve got confidence in the Buckeyes.”

In his 10 seasons as Ohio State's football coach, Tressel lost to Michigan only once: a 35-21 loss to the Wolverines in Ann Arbor to end the 2003 regular season. In each of the Buckeyes' other matchups against Michigan under Tressel, Ohio State out-scored the Wolverines 258-172, including Ohio State's vacated win in 2010.

Michigan currently holds the series advantage over Ohio State with a record of 60-51-6 against the Buckeyes, an advantage Tressel wants to see flipped.

“One of my goals in life is to live long enough to see us over .500 in the all-time series against Michigan,” he said.

Ohio State will end its 2023 regular season against Michigan in Ann Arbor at noon Nov. 25.

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