With whispers that the Indianapolis Colts either want to -- or have already -- talked to Jim Tressel about their head coaching job making their rounds, one thing comes to mind:
Tressel was forced out at Ohio State last May after 10 wildly successful years as the head coach in Columbus. Besides a cameo at Terrelle Pryor's pro day workout in August, he's since been spotted around football only at Colts games. He served as the team's replay assistant last season, a job some NFL teams use with the idea of having an outside, but experienced, football eye to sit with the coaching staff during games and provide advice on replay challenges and replay rules in the heat of the moment.
In this case, it seems like a job that was designed to allow Tressel to sit in an NFL press box all season -- observing, listening, envisioning.
Was it the tryout for the real tryout, happening now? We don't really know. We do know there are reasons the Colts would want Tressel -- and vice-versa.
There are reasons it could work.
Coach Tressel was always a little like Senator Tressel, a guy who knew which hands to shake and almost always chose his words wisely. The best NFL coaches portray themselves as the best NFL coaches -- and behind the scenes they hire the best assistants, draft good players, build and oversee schemes that allow those players to shine.
Tressel would know he'd have to hire a staff with NFL experience and guys who could work with the offensive pieces already in the Colts locker room, and he's been around the game's highest levels long enough to presumably know who some of those coaches might be.
The Colts just finished a nightmarish year and are going to have some tough questions to answer in the coming months. A cut-or-keep Peyton Manning decision is coming very soon, and it seems the Colts may have to cut ties with the guy who led them to new heights.
What if their other big-name free agents move on, too, by their choice or the organization's? What if presumed No. 1 pick Andrew Luck doesn't light the league on fire in the first month of the season?
Tressel can take the heat. He's been there. Lots of NFL coaches have melted amidst tough times, and the thought that Tressel can handle the spotlight is likely atop the reasons he's supposedly being considered.
The Colts provide a situation almost any coach would at least explore. They have the No. 1 pick in April's NFL Draft, play in a shiny new building and can compete in the AFC South. There's also the thought that Luck has a chance to be really good sooner rather than later, and having a great quarterback has rarely been bad for an NFL head coach's Q-rating.
Plus, a sweater vest is at least tolerable in royal blue.
Tressel will be 60 in December. There's no known reason he couldn't easily coach four or five years, which is an eternity in today's NFL. The Colts are clearly going through a transition period, and Tressel could provide a stable bridge. He seems like the type of guy who'd be fine with Luck being the face of the franchise.
Maybe Tressel is a little too old and a little too old school, a little too stuck in his belief that the punt is the most important play in football to bring the kind of sizzle many of these coaching changes attempt to bring. Add that to the baggage and the black eye still lingering from the scandal that knocked him off his "King of Columbus" pedestal and there's reason to think the Colts could quickly and politely say thanks, but no thanks.
Before they do that they should ask themselves: Who's interested and better?
No, Tressel didn't develop a whole bunch of prototype NFL quarterbacks in his time at Ohio State. He didn't recruit a bunch of them, either. He is a quarterback coach and an offensive guy at heart, and anyone who questions if his Ohio State offenses were really up to modern times needs only to watch a few games of the 2011 Ohio State offense. All of a sudden he's an ordinary Sean Payton.
He's experienced in telling less than the whole truth, which makes him a fit for the job as well. To coaches and GMs, the whole notion that there are still secrets in the NFL isn't going away anytime soon. Tressel knows how to command respect in a locker room, and though there certainly a number of college coaches who have failed miserably in the NFL for a number of reasons, ego is chief among them.
Tressel has one, sure. You'd have to think the events of the last 15 months or so have tempered that. In this job, he'd know taking a half-step back would be part of his path to redemption. That part should appeal to the Colts, too.
We don't know the Colts' interest level in Tressel, and we don't know if he'd succeed over the long-term, whatever that constitutes in today's ever-changing NFL.
His track record says he'd beat that team in Michigan. And the Colts do play the Lions next year.
Both Tressel and the Colts have been to the top of Football Mountain. Both have been knocked -- swiftly and at least partly by their own tunnel vision -- back to the bottom.
There have certainly been worse ideas than teaming up for one more swing at it.