Ann Arbor, Michigan – Despite his professed friendship with Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel continues to torment and publicly humiliate his Big Ten rival even after routinely copying from Carr’s homework and “borrowing” soda money.
Carr, 60, and Tressel, 53, have been acquaintances ever since Tressel moved from Youngstown to Columbus, Ohio.
“I showed Jimmy around when he first got there. Sometimes it’s tough when you move to a new place: you don’t know anyone, you have to sit all by yourself at lunch, Michigan State keeps beating you. Stuff like that. He’d come over to the Big House and hang out. He was kinda mean even then, but we were still friends. I was real nice to him. Then he started hanging around the cooler kids and, well…” Carr said.
“Now I sit by myself at lunchtime. It’s not so bad. I bring my Harry Potter books.”
Carr, University of Michigan head football coach and pussy-willow.
According to witnesses, a daily routine has developed between the two coaches. After getting his subsidized meal from lunch lady Edna Kozlowski, Carr quickly heads over to his corner table to quietly consume his main course and draw in his notebook. Once several minutes have passed, Tressel – who normally resides in the center aisle at a table with Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz – walks over to where Carr is sitting, usually with a mischievous expression on his face. From here events tend to differ depending on the day of the week, Tressel’s mood and whether or not Carr is playing a game of Magic the Gathering with himself.
“Sometimes [Tressel] will pretend to ‘accidentally’ knock Lloyd’s tray off the table and onto [Carr's] lap. Sometimes he ‘spills’ milk onto Lloyd. If [Carr] is done with his food and stuff before Jimmy gets there, [Tressel] will punch him in the shoulder a lot, like he’s messing around but it’s obvious he’s not. All the kids in the center aisles will laugh, but I don’t think it’s that funny. I don’t really say nothin’, though,” Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney said. McCarney, who tends to sit by himself relatively close to Carr, is often the butt of jokes and pranks from others but has earned a reputation that deters more serious harassment.
“Let’s just say that Kirk keeps his distance,” McCarney said. “Not like Jimmy. He pantsed Lloyd in the middle of the Big House one time, in front of 100,000 people. His, like, mom was there, y’know? That’s just kind of messed up.”
This behavior, however, is not limited to lunchtime, according to Big Ten officials. Midday noogies, afternoon wedgies, before class swirlies and after school Indian burns have become a regular occurrence, prompting other coaches to form loud, shouting circles around the daily events; some are there to heckle and torment, but others are there out of a hope for a different outcome despite past history.
“Sometimes I wish Lloyd would just stand up to that big bully. It’s not as hard as it looks, so long as you know what you’re doing. I’ve been successful at it sometimes, but only because I learned how to fight weird. I move around in circles and use my elbows and stuff. It’s confusing, but it works,” Northwestern head coach Randy Walker said.
Most are baffled by Carr’s repeated acquiescence to Tressel’s demands, including the offer of completed homework “to study from”, a soda and Gatorade line of credit with little to no compounded interest, and a yearly ritual in which Carr saves up enough allowance for the Big Ten championship, only to let Tressel walk away with it after a session of “convincing”.
Michigan sociology professor Harold Weir noted that Carr’s pattern of compliance and retreat only reinforces Tressel’s behavior.
“It’s a common occurrence. Whenever a weaker entity allows another person in a position of power to get away with anything, it tends to emphasize and even add to the already existing set of conditions that dictate weakness and strength. In this case Lloyd’s refusal to fight back or even make things remotely difficult for Jim sends a clear signal that [Tressel's] behavior is not only effective, but correct. The notions of dominance and hierarchy are very much a part of the animal kingdom, and humans are still animals when it comes down to it. And, frankly, maybe Lloyd deserves to get picked on. Did you see [last season's Ohio State-Michigan game, won by the Buckeyes 25-21]? Fucking ridiculous. [Michigan has] the lead with only like four minutes remaining, right? But we can only get two plays with any positive yards before punting? What the fuck is that? Fuck that guy,” Weir said.
“I mean c’mon. Everyone knew Ohio State would march down that field and score. Everyone,” Weir added. “Fuck. God-damned pansy.”
Most agree that Carr and Tressel seem bound to continue their current relationship until the foreseeable future: Michigan and Ohio State host one of college football’s most storied rivalries, and, according to local gossip, Tressel is infatuated with Carr’s older sister, Janey.
“He’s nice to me when we’re alone. We still joke around about all the stuff we used to be into, like X-Men comic books and the base two receiver set and stuff like that. Sometimes he even invites me to his parties, but I haven’t gone to one since [Penn State head coach] Joe [Paterno's] thing with the shuffleboard and the bingo. It was kinda boring, plus once we got there Jimmy threw punch all over me,” Carr said.
“Maybe the trick is to have Janey come with me to school. Jimmy’s real nice when she’s around. He’s always asking about her, what she likes, how close our rooms are. I wish she hadn’t moved off to another college, because maybe then it wouldn’t be so bad between me and [Tressel].”
Weir, however, disagreed.
“What we have here is a classic case of the socially oppressed doing a disservice to themselves by fantasizing in the extreme. Hopes and dreams are good things, maybe even necessary things, but when thought about and never acted upon they become anchors. Let’s face it, Lloyd here isn’t exactly going to grow up to be a computer mogul or a Super Bowl winning coach who gets to come back to the reunion and shove it in Jim’s face. If he wants to be able to look back at this period in his life, he’s going to have to grow a pair and do something about it,” Weir said.
“This kinda seems like the perfect script set up for a sitcom or something, doesn’t it? Maybe [former Michigan head coach] Bo Schembechler can teach Lloyd how to punch in a very special episode about bullying and standing up for yourself. Then Tressel can kick his ass in a very realistic episode of ‘This Is Happening Right Now, Again.'”
As of press time, Tressel could not be reached for comment.