Dick Tressel managed to make it three months without thinking about it — then Ohio State had its annual media day in Ohio Stadium.
Just moments after the strange feeling Tressel had when posing for Ohio State’s team photo for the first time without his younger brother — former head coach Jim Tressel — he was forced to think about a scenario he hadn’t even pondered.
The media wanted to know if Dick ever thought about leaving Ohio State, too.
“The first time I thought about (whether leaving was an option) was today with about ten (reporters) asking me,” said Dick, who now enters his 11th season with the program.
“I didn’t,” he said when finally getting around to answering the question. “The kids just had something jerked out from under them, why would you jerk something else out from under them?”
Because Ohio State was still involved in a pending NCAA investigation, the program felt it had no choice but to distance itself from the former head coach who had covered up information about the tattoo scandal his players were involved in.
Former quarterback Terrelle Pryor — who has since left the program — and other prominent Ohio State players were found in December having sold personal memorabilia given to them by the program for cash and other benefits.
Months later, proof surfaced that Jim had previous knowledge of those NCAA violations taking place before deciding not to come forward with the information to athletic director Gene Smith or other superiors.
Jim supposedly didn’t tell anyone about the information he had stumbled upon, specifically the original e-mails from attorney Chris Cicero that linked Ohio State players to the violations.
Dick wasn’t surprised his brother didn’t come to him with the dilemma.
“My wife is, but I am not (surprised),” Dick said. “Hey, that’s his job, that’s not my job and he’s got a plan to get it done, to take care of business, and I got these other things I am supposed to be doing, so it didn’t surprise me at all.”
Despite the direct bloodline to his brother, Dick never felt as if his personal relationship with Jim hampered on the professional level while spending time preparing the team.
Perhaps that’s why he wasn’t surprised Jim didn’t bring him in on the personal situation he was dealing with, but that’s precisely why Dick doesn’t feel he had any more insight on the matter than anyone else.
Dick didn’t receive word that Tressel was stepping down until after midnight the night before, giving him only six hours to cope with the decision before it became public knowledge.
Even to this day, Dick feels like he’s in the right place. It’s not having his brother around, however, that he still feels strange about.
"I don't think I see myself as different than anyone else. Every day in the paper, every time you talk to somebody, people wonder," Dick said. "So I still have my moments of wonder, but you've got to move forward.
"You're coaching kids and doing what's asked and people are counting on you, so to say, 'Nah, if they don't like my brother, I'm not going to be around here,' that wouldn't be sensible. I don't know why he's not coaching here, to tell you the truth. So it would be hard for me to decide, 'Oh, I shouldn't coach here, either.'"
It has been two weeks since Dick has seen his brother — precisely the Saturday before Ohio State reported to fall camp. Though they’ve traded texts back and forth, Dick said his brother didn’t bite on conversation about the Buckeyes.
"He knows we've got to do what we've got to do," Dick said. "He cares a lot about it, but not so much that he feels like he needs to put his fingers in it.”
The Buckeyes will move forward under first-year head coach Luke Fickell, who was also an assistant for the duration of Jim’s tenure with the program.
Dick is committed to his friend and new boss, but can’t help but feel different not to have his brother by his side.
“It is strange because he is so good at (coaching) and cares so much about it and cares so much about kids,” Dick said, “but that’s a loss on a lot of fronts.”