The 10-year Ohio State head coach enters the ballot for the first time this year, having been out of coaching for three seasons now, the mandated time before a coach can be eligible for the honor from the National Football Foundation.
He is listed as 26 coaches up for selection on the Divisional Coaches Candidate list, which honors coaches for their work below the top level of college football.
Before his time at Ohio State, he coached Youngstown State to four Division I-AA national titles during a 15-year tenure. His career record at both stops is 229-79-2, and Tressel was also the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year at both OSU and with the Penguins.
Tressel also, of course, had one of the most decorated careers in history for a Buckeye coach. He won 106 games in his 10 seasons, leading the Buckeyes to shares of seven Big Ten titles as well as eight BCS bowl appearances, six top-five finishes, three national title games and the 2002 national championship.
His OSU tenure ended in controversy when it was found he had not reported what he knew about NCAA violations committed by multiple players to his superiors. He was forced out of the school as part of the "Tatgate" controversy in May 2011 and eventually handed a five-year show-cause penalty by the NCAA. Since, he has become a vice president at the University of Akron.
The Buckeyes on the players ballot are linebacker Tom Cousineau and running back Jim Otis. Cousineau is a two-time consensus first-team All-American and three-time All-Big Ten performer who recorded 572 career tackles, ranking second all-time in OSU history.
Otis was a consensus first-team All-American in 1969 as well as first-team All-Big Ten. He led Ohio State in rushing three times and was a member of OSU's 1968 national championship team.
The Hall of Fame class will be announced in May. Orlando Pace represented the Buckeyes a season ago, becoming the 24th Ohio State player enshrined in the Hall. Six former OSU coaches – John W. Wilce, Howard Jones, Francis Schmidt, Woody Hayes, Earle Bruce and John Cooper – are also members.
To be eligible for the ballot, players must have been named a first-team All-American by a major/national selector as recognized and utilized by the NCAA for their consensus All-America teams; played their last year of intercollegiate football at least 10 years prior; played within the last 50 years and cannot be currently playing professional football.
Coaches must have coached a minimum of 10 years and 100 games as a head coach; won at least 60 percent of their games; and be retired from coaching for at least three years. If a coach is retired and over the age of 70, there is no waiting period. If he is over the age of 75, he is eligible as an active coach. In both cases, the candidate's post-football record as a citizen may also be weighed.