As a man who considers himself a teacher first and foremost, Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel appears to be a logical candidate to write a book.
But it was with much trepidation and after having fielded several offers from other publishers that Tressel finally agreed to put pen to paper and, with the help of Chris Fabry, create “The Winners Manual: For The Game Of Life.” Now, in addition to his noteworthy coaching resume that stretches back 22 years to his first coaching job, the head man for the Buckeyes will embark on a mini book tour to promote his foray into the world of publishing.
Before he hits the road, however, Tressel said he wrote the book to help share with others the core beliefs he and his coaching staff preach to their players.
“I hope it will help add value to someone else’s life,” he said. “I hope it will help be a resource for coaches and for anyone within the leadership realm.”
Although he served as the sports editor of Baldwin Wallace’s student newspaper The Exponent while in college, this marks the first time Tressel has written a book. Describing the situation as simply the right time in his life to do so, he described the writing process as “relatively painless” and added that about 70 percent of the book was written during one weekend.
Each season, Tressel distributes copies of what is dubbed “The Winner’s Manual” to each member of his team. A tradition that began with a 65-page version in 1986 and has now grown to a 400-plus-page novel, the book is in such high demand that former players often contact Tressel to procure a copy of the latest edition.
This version differs from the one he distributes to his players in that it focuses more on concepts and less on specific, concrete goals like the ones his players have each season.
“It has been an accumulation over the last 22 years,” Tressel said. “It’s not the Winner’s Manual, but it’s similar. There are some things never change.”
Part of the reason behind the decision to write the book came out of Tressel’s ongoing commitment to helping improve the OSU library system. The profits earned by the head coach will go to help the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library Renovation Fund, aimed at helping repair one of the university landmarks that is currently slated to reopen in 2009. Tressel serves as co-chair of the $110 million project along with his wife, Ellen.
Although Tressel admitted to having a goal of how many books are sold, he declined to name it. According to the OSU sports information office, more than 70,000 copies have been pre-ordered – a total that already ranks the book as No. 50 on next week’s bestseller list.
The message in the book is designed to do more than simply inspire people, Tressel said.
“I hope it reinforces what people already know and believe,” he said. “Inspiration lasts 10 minutes. It takes more than that to make people think and give them something that has depth.
“You need to have a plan and fundamentals you believe in to stay on top of your trade.”
As such, the book does not contain diagrams of plays or explanations as to how to become a better football player. Instead, there are chapters on love, faith and belief and attitude, among other similar topics.
“X’s and O’s will be obsolete by the time the book prints,” he said. “Our goal is to create something more enduring and universal.”
The back cover of the book features endorsements from the likes of A.J. Hawk, Mike Nugent and Mark Dantonio – all former members of the OSU football program.
To promote the book’s release – it will be available to purchase July 15 – Tressel will embark on a four-day signing tour that will kick off in Ridgewood, N.J. the day the book is released. He will have three separate signings in Columbus the following day and will also head to Youngstown, Copley and Westlake within the Buckeye state July 17.
The tour wraps up July 19 with a signing in Pickerington, Ohio.
“I’m just hoping someone shows up,” Tressel said. “I love seeing Ohio State fans and hearing their stories and seeing what this university means to them.”