DUBLIN, Ohio -- It didn't take long for the talk to turn from golf to college football during Jack Nicklaus's press conference Tuesday morning at the Memorial Tournament.
After Nicklaus made some opening remarks on changes to the golf course, he was asked for his thoughts on Jim Tressel, who resigned as Ohio State's football coach on Monday amid a firestorm of accusations and NCAA violations.
"Well, my take on it is that it was no different than a father trying to protect his son, and if I had one of my kids that did what I thought was a fairly insignificant thing, I'd probably say, you know, ‘Hey, we're not going to worry too much about that. We're going to try to just forget that,'" Nicklaus said.
"Well, obviously the cover up was far worse than the act. And once you got the cover up, it became a situation where Jim had to say some things that turned out to be that weren't exactly truthful. And so that's where he got himself in trouble."
Tressel resigned Monday after 10 years as Ohio State's football coach. The NCAA is investigating the extent of a scandal in which players traded memorabilia for tattoos. SI reported Monday night that as many as 28 players had traded Ohio State memorabilia under Tressel's watch dating back to 2002.
Nicklaus grew up in the Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington, attended Ohio State football games with his father as a kid and won the 1961 NCAA individual title while playing golf for the Buckeyes.
Legendary football coach Woody Hayes was a family friend and frequent patron in Nicklaus's gallery at Ohio State. At the time, golf was just one of many sports Nicklaus played. But Hayes told Nicklaus's father, Charlie, that young Jack should focus on golf.
"Charlie, forget about Jack playing football," Hayes was quoted as saying in Nicklaus's book My Story. "I think he'd make a fine quarterback if he stayed with the game, but he could also get hurt, and with the talent he has for golf he'd be crazy to take a chance like that. Just encourage him with his golf, because I think he could have a great career at it."
Nicklaus was asked Tuesday what Hayes might have done if he were in Tressel's shoes.
"I think Woody would have protected his kids," Nicklaus said. "He probably did protect his kids. Woody was a good man. I think Tressel is a good man."
(Photo: Matt Sullivan/Reuters)