James (Jim) Tressel was born on December 5, 1952, in Mentor, Ohio. He was the son of legendary college coach Lee Tressel and played for his father at Baldwin-Wallace College. He graduated from Baldwin-Wallace in 1975 with an education degree.
In 1975, Tressel had his first on-field coaching experience, serving as a graduate assistant at the University of Akron. From 1976 to 1978, Tressel coached the quarterbacks, the running backs, and wide receivers. Following his stint at Akron, Tressel was an assistant coach at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, and at Syracuse University. In 1983, he came to The Ohio State University, where he eventually would coach the quarterbacks, the running backs, and wide receivers.
In 1985, Tressel left Ohio State to accept the head coaching position at Youngstown State University. Tressel struggled his first season at Youngstown State, winning only two games, but he quickly built a national powerhouse in Division I-AA football. During the 1990s, Youngstown State won 103 games, lost twenty-seven, and tied two. Tressel teams also won four national championships. Tressel's father had also won a national championship while at Baldwin-Wallace. The Tressels are the only father and son combination to coach college teams to national championships.
In 2001, Tressel became the head coach of The Ohio State Buckeyes. His teams excelled on the field, winning the national championship in only Tressel's second season with the team. In his 10 years with the Buckeyes they won the Big Ten Conference seven times and gone to the national championship 3 times. Tressel's overall winning percentage with the Buckeyes is nearly 83%, the second highest of any Ohio State University coach up to that time.
In 2011 Tressel resigned from the over fallout from memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal.
Tressel became the Vice President of Strategic Engagement for the University of Akron in 2012, staying for only two years. Since 2014 he has held the position of President at Youngstown State University. Under his guidance the University has increased enrollment and hit record fundraising levels.