YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Jim Tressel was 33 when he was hired as Youngstown State University’s football coach in 1985. He just spent his last day at the university and reflected on his many football memories.

According to Tressel, the people of Youngstown didn’t know how good a place it was.

“To me, that was one of the real exciting opportunities was to see if I could help bring that spirit back to feeling good,” he said.

At his first team meeting, the coach even saw that damaged self-image in his players. No one had on a YSU T-shirt or sweatshirt.

“So we made a rule right then, if you ever came to Stambaugh Stadium with something other than Youngstown State paraphernalia… if it’s another university, you turn it inside out because there’s only one university that’s important,” Tressel said.

But winning four national championships from 1991 to 1997 changed all of that.

“You could just see the momentum growing of people’s interest and their pride and their willingness. T-shirts everywhere and sweatshirts everywhere. Our players, you couldn’t find them without Youngstown State football, and that was so much fun to watch,” he said.

Tressel then became the head football coach at The Ohio State University.

“I felt like the same type of plan would work even though it was the next level. It was just maybe bigger guys and faster guys but it was guys. It was 11 people at a time,” he said.

The Tressel plan worked at OSU, too. But after a national championship and three appearances in national championship games, he was fired for improper benefits given to players.

“I wasn’t necessarily thinking about leaving at that time,” he said.

But he viewed his exit from OSU as a learning experience and wasn’t going to let it define him.

“If you spend a whole bunch of time bemoaning it or saying we were robbed or that shouldn’t be or it’s unfair, you’re wasting emotional energy. You’re wasting time,” Tressel said.