Andy Tomcho is a Cleveland native, former Ohio State student, and die-hard Buckeyes fan who, upon the arrival of his first-born son, graced him with the only name that made sense: Tressel Andrew Tomcho. Named, of course, for deified OSU football coach Jim Tressel. This was nearly two years ago, far happier times for the Tressel aura of on-field success and off-field spiritual infallibility, back when it seemed profoundly unlikely that—just to use an arbitrary hypothetical example—poor old Jim would be forced to resign under the cloud of a bizarre tattoos-for-memorabilia scandal.
Which, of course, happened over Memorial Day weekend. You can be certain Andy, who now lives in Chicago and works in the admissions department of a small private college, is taking this harder than the average Buckeyes fan; it seemed like a good idea to chat with him about it. (Disclosure: We went to high school together, and once bonded over our shared affinity for Bobby Brown.) Hopefully OSU's football program as a whole handles this fiasco as calmly and reasonably.
These are tough times, I'm afraid, to have a son named after Jim Tressel. How are you feeling?
Pretty disappointed. It's sad to see something that you valued and admired go down in flames so fast.
What was the initial thought process behind the name? What was it about Jim Tressel that drew you to him? His status as a religious/honorable man? The 2002 national championship? The sweater vests?
Definitely the integrity and honor that Jim seemed to bring to tOSU [Note: This is Andy's abbreviation, not mine] after those crazy Cooper years. Winning the championship and the sweater vests weren't too far behind though!
Is this something you had to actively talk your wife into? Your mother? Your mother-in-law? Did any friends/family balk at it? Tell me a bit about the negotiation process.
Well, it started out as a joke with some friends of ours. They were going to name their son Eddie George Hickey, and we were going to name ours Tressel Andrew Tomcho. Since I live in Chicago now, most people didn't really understand the name, but the more we joked about it, the more people thought it was a cool and unique name. My family all back in Ohio thought I was kidding/crazy. Eventually the name stuck, it grew on my wife, and we decided, why not? Now we know why. Oh, and our friends didn't name their son Eddie George; however, that might have been a better name in hindsight.
Was Maurice Clarett Tomcho ever under consideration?
No, but there was some mention of Carmen Ohio Tomcho if it was a girl. (That's the tOSU alma mater.)
Did you discuss, at the time, what would happen if Jim Tressel were to be fired or otherwise disgraced? Do you have some sort of contingency plan in place?
No contingency plan. My wife is only a fan of tOSU because of me, and has no allegiance to them. The name was something she actually liked. Plus we didn't think we'd ever have to worry about anything like this.
Are you regretting the name, or considering changing it?
No name change. We'll just shorten it for a while to T or Tre.
Is there anything Jim Tressel could do at this point to make you permanently change your mind? Revelations of gambling, stealth videotaping, doping, etc.? A cross-country shooting spree? Signing on as head coach up in Michigan?
Wow, that's loaded. I suppose if he ever went to *ichigan, I would have to then change it. Other than that, the Mayans say the world will end next year—maybe I won't have to worry about it much longer.
As this tattoos-for-memorabilia controversy started ramping up, did you fear for this moment? Did the announcement of his resignation come as a surprise?
I never thought it would get this far, to be honest. I'm not surprised he resigned after more and more of the information came out. It seems like Jim was taking a lot of the blame, almost let it all fall on him, especially since he didn't involve the university at all. There are two ways to look at that: Either he was trying to protect the university and his players, or he is really stupid.
What do you think of the controversy, the charges themselves? Do you think Jim, and the program at large, deserved what they got?
Personally, it amazes me that there is a five-game suspension for players for getting tattoos at a discount and selling/trading their own property. It's unbelievable to me what the NCAA values most. You can buy the players' game-worn shoes, jerseys, and shirts on the school's website, but it's not okay for a player to sell their awards they have earned. So as long as the universities and NCAA can continue to make money off the "student athletes" that bring in millions of dollars if they win and go to a bowl game, it's okay. But the "student athletes" better not cut into their profit! You have players' parents asking for and receiving money for their kids' commitments, and no suspension there. But mess with the NCAA's profit, HELL NO! This is a business, let's not kid ourselves that it's about an education. Now for Jim, misleading and hiding the knowledge that he had, his suspension was warranted, and he should have been fined the legal fees the university had to pay to support him and the players. High risk, high reward. You try to change young mens' lives that are considered high risk, and you may get to the championship game, but you will get burned eventually.
Are you a lifelong OSU fan? Did you go to school there? What are some other examples of your intense Buckeye fandom?
Pretty much lifelong, I grew up in Northeastern Ohio. I did attend tOSU during the end of the Cooper years and beginning of Tressel's era. Living in Columbus and experiencing Buckeye Saturdays, Hineygate, the VC and Catfish Bifs, that's something that cannot be beat. I tailgate every time the Bucks play out here at Northwestern, and drive down to Purdue and meet up with my family in Ohio for the game. For last year's Purdue game, I was highlighted as the tailgate of the day, and got to show them around our family's setup with canopies, cornhole, and grillin' out. My son Tressel got to go to his first game last year versus Marshall. Obviously my son's room is scarlet and gray, with an tOSU blocks border, framed #1 jersey, and signed poster by Jim Tressel with the team's 2009 schedule (his birth year).
It used to be a huge tailgate that they held outside of the Holiday Inn just off campus. A band called the Danger Brothers played every gameday, it was a big party. It's sadly no longer, since the university bought the Holiday Inn and turned it into a dorm.
How much shit are you taking from your friends right now, exactly?
Well, my friends are fine—it's all the other people out here in Chicago that don't understand fanatic college football fans that I'm catchin' heat from. Most people are surprised I'm not in a week-long drunken stupor.
Does young Tressel have any thoughts on this, at the moment? Have you brought this up to him at all?
Right now he is more concerned with the new Cars movie coming out here in the middle of June.
How do you plan on explaining this to young Tressel when he comes of age? At this point it's a pretty complicated birthright.
When he gets old enough I'll use it as a lesson. You can do nothing but good in your life, but it takes one defining moment that can knock you down. It's up to you to define the moment and your life. Never take for granted what you have.