Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel has had enough with Ray Small. He’s tried to reach the talented but mercurial wide receiver through encouragement, exploring different roles like kick returner, punishment, and even relegation to the scout team. However, he’s done soft-pedaling the message. Tressel’s pulling the trump card no one thought he’d throw:
Jim Tressel has taken Ray Small’s jersey number away. No longer can Small pretend to be Big Man on Campus with his #4 jersey in rarefied air. Instead, he’s stuck down with all the other wide receiver scrubs wearing #82. You’re no one special now, kid. You’re just a guy. Take that!
We kid Tressel, but this sounds like brilliance in a minor key to us. A young man that’s not applying himself on or off the field and expects to be a unique and special snowflake forever without effort might be open to symbolism like this. It’s not a hard sell, but it’s a harsh message. Also, it’s not over the top showboating by the coach. Authority has been exerted quietly.
Since this step also seems to be in concert with other disciplinary measures and a plan for Small to follow to become special again, the number swap has a bit of cinematic drama but as part of a real-life solution. Recruiting raw talent stands as Job #1 for Tressel, but motivational tricks like this give Ohio State the shot at #1 each year.