COLUMBUS, OHIO Ohio State has a new coach, and it didn't have to travel far to find him.
Jim Tressel, who guided Youngstown State to four I-AA national championships in 15 seasons, will be introduced today as the Buckeyes' new coach.
The 48-year-old Tressel accepted the job Wednesday, said Jack Rall, chairman of the Ohio State Athletic Council.
Athletics director Andy Geiger called a 4 p.m. news conference today to introduce the new coach, although he would not confirm it was Tressel.
Earlier, WTVN-AM, WBNS-TV and The Columbus Dispatch's Web site reported that Tressel would replace John Cooper.
After Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden joined Oregon's Mike Bellotti in dropping out of contention, Tressel and Minnesota coach Glen Mason were the finalists.
Mason, the former Kansas coach, took the full tour of his alma mater on Wednesday. Mason said his meeting with Ohio State President William Kirwan went "great."
Geiger told Jeff Logan, a member of the advisory committee, that Mason was "devastated" when told that Tressel would be the new coach.
Mason and Tressel served on the same Ohio State staff from 1983-85. Tressel's hiring capped a 16-day search.
Tressel was expected to sign a multiyear contract paying him around $1 million a year.
Others who either interviewed or spoke with OSU officials included Buckeye assistant head coach Fred Pagac, former Ohio State and NFL linebacker Chris Spielman and Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham.
Cooper was fired on Jan. 2 after Ohio State lost 24-7 to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. Cooper was 111-43-4, shared three Big Ten titles and went to bowls in 11 of his 13 seasons. But he was 3-8 in those bowl games and just 2-10-1 against rival Michigan.
Tressel, 135-57-2 with the Penguins, also served as the school's athletics director. He is moving to the I-A level for the first time.
Tressel's Youngstown State teams won national titles in 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1997 the most for a coach in I-AA history and had 12 winning seasons.
Tressel took over the Penguins in 1986. After going 2-9 in his first season, Tressel guided the Penguins to their first I-AA playoff appearance with an 8-4 mark the next season and won the Ohio Valley Conference title.