Tag Archives: Jim Tressel

Has Buckeye Nation Lost Perspective?

Buckeye Football is fine. Photo Credit: Nike.com

 When the Iowa Hawkeyes drubbed the Buckeyes 55-24, pretty much ending their College Football Playoff hopes, many Ohio State fans threw in their collective towels and called the 2017 season a loss season. But, if the Buckeyes win out, they’ll be B1G Champions for only the second time in Urban Meyer’s tenure. A conference title will land them in either the Fiesta or Orange Bowl. There’s still the very small possibility of a College Football Playoffs birth if chaos occurs. So there is a LOT left to play for.
However, this defeated mindset leaves me ashamed to be an Ohio State fan sometimes. This fan base needs some perspective and I’m here to offer it to you.

As a 37-year old who was born after the Woody Hayes era unceremoniously ended, I missed the golden age he led in Columbus that propelled the Buckeyes to national prominence with 5 National Championships, 13 Big Ten titles and 16 wins over “That Team Up North” in 28 seasons.

My father raised by me on Buckeye football. I listened to him tell stories about the greatness of this program before my birth, yet as I watched as a youngster teams lead by Earle Bruce, I didn’t see it. There were no national titles, but he did win 4 Big Ten titles, 5 bowl games and was 5-4 against the Wolverines. Coach Bruce only had one top 5 finishes (1979) and had eight consecutive seasons of 3 or more losses. This program was no longer on the level of the Notre Dame’s, Nebraska’s, Oklahoma’s, Miami’s and Penn State (pre-B1G affiliation) who dominated NCAA football during that period.

Then there was the Cooper era, the period that hurts and haunts me still. Only 2 wins and a tie in 13 tries against TTUN. 7 bowl losses. 3 Big Ten Titles and No National Championships despite reaching the top 10 in Associated Press Poll 7 times and starting the season in the Top 10 four times.

It wasn’t until I was a 22-year old senior at The Ohio State University that I saw my favorite team play for a national title and win it, led by Jim Tressel, Craig Krenzel and super freshman Maurice Clarett. 22 years it took for me to experience my team win it all. Compare that to a current 22-year old Ohio State fan that has seen the Buckeyes win 2 National titles (2002, 2014), play for another 3, 9 outright/shared B1G titles and 15 wins in “The Game”, which include a current 5-game win streak. I’ll gladly trade my first 22 years of Buckeye football fandom for that of a current 22-year old.

 

These last 15 years especially have spoiled Buckeye Nation and distorted our perspective of how hard it is to truly be great in college football.

The schools that dominated the college football landscape of my youth (Notre Dame, Nebraska, Miami, Georgia, Michigan) and even the turn of this century (Miami again, Texas, USC, Florida and Florida State) have all gone through multiple losing seasons, coaching changes and program derailing scandals. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes have been at the top or in the thick of the Championship race. And when there has been a down season, scandal or coaching change (2011), the Scarlet and Gray quickly bounced back (2012; 12-0).

In the last 25 years or so, we’ve never had to hear the phrase “The Buckeyes are back!” like the Miami Hurricanes are hearing this week ahead of their matchup with the Fighting Irish.

So as you watch this 2017 version fight for a B1G Championship in clearly the most challenging Power 5 conference this season, remember the main goals are still obtainable. But more importantly, there are a lot of fans bases that would love to have our “problems.”

Buckeyes Motivation Should be 2006 Squad

Miller reintroduced himself as a Heisman favorite. Photo Courtesy: Columbus Dispatch

The 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes came into the season with plenty of hype and preseason accolades, and they’re receiving more and more of it the aftermath of their 42-24 drubbing of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg Virginia on Monday night.

The probability for the first unanimous preseason number one ranked team in college football history winning this years College Football Playoff, increased after their first win in 2015, and it will continue to increase with each subsequent victory as the season goes on. 

The ESPN FPI (Football Power Index) gives them a 44.6 percent chance to win out the rest of their games. The next closest team is Baylor at 14.1 percent. According to the World Wide Leader’s website, it says the FPI “is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season.” Whatever that’s worth.  

The FPI also gives the Buckeyes the highest probability of all teams with conference ties, to win their conference at 72.3 percent. Boise State comes in second with a 72.1 percent chance to win the Mountain West.

The question now is, what will keep them focused—and humble—to finish 2015 with back to back national titles? I have a suggestion, look no farther back than the 2006 Buckeyes, a team that Head Coach Urban Meyer knows very well.

The 2006 squad also started the season number one, in the coaches poll, and held on to that ranking all season. The Jim Tressel led team beat four top 25 teams on the way to  a 12-0 regular season, winning games by an average of 21.8 points per game.

When the final BCS Poll came out after their victory over the number two ranked Michigan Wolverines, the Scarlet and Gray became the first team in the history of the BCS to score a perfect 1.000. Quarterback Troy Smith was the early season, and wire to wire favorite to win the Heisman trophy. He ended up taking home the “bronze stiff arm” by the greatest margin in the history of the award.

Troy Smith and the 2006 Buckeyes were a great team that didnt finish the task. Photo Courtesy: Athlon Sports

Ohio State entered the 2007 BCS National Championship game as 7.5 point favorites over then Florida Head Coach, Urban Meyer’s Gators, and the lead up to the game was a coronation to the Buckeyes. Analyst were discussing their place in the annals of history, and trying to figure out where Coach Tressel would rank as one of the greatest college coaches of all time by adding another title to the five he already captured—he won four NCAA I-AA Championships at Youngstown State. 

But, we all know how the story ended on that January night in Glendale Arizona for Buckeye Nation, a 41-14 loss. It was one of the greatest disappointments in the program’s history.

Show this high powered 2015 team the 2006 Buckeye team’s successes, and epic disappointment. That should be enough to keep this year’s unanimous choice to be National Champions focused on making history and capturing another gold trophy.

Silver Bullets Redeemed

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The Buckeyes are back on top. Courtesy: NY Post

When the clock struck triple zero on the scoreboard in AT&T Stadium Monday night, the Buckeyes captured their eighth National Football Championship in its storied history. The road back to the top wasn’t as easy as the team made it look on the field against Oregon. In the mix of tears of joy and pride over the victory, there was also a feeling of redemption. To understand that, you must know the history of the Scarlet and Gray. All of it. The good, the bad and the ugly. For the Buckeyes it’s been a bumpy ride back to the top. There were heartaches, tragedies, close calls and scandals.

In the 1980’s after Coach Hayes was fired, the Silver Bullets disappeared from National Title scene under Coach Earle Bruce. After making it the 1980 Rose Bowl in his first season—lost to USC, 17-16—Coach Bruce struggled to get the team to double-digit win seasons throughout the rest of his nine seasons. The Buckeyes went 9-3 six consecutive seasons from 1980-1985.

So the OSU powers that be brought in John Cooper, who regained the national spotlight on the program with wins over prestigious programs in Notre Dame in 1995 & 96, the 1997 Rose Bowl victory over Arizona State, the 1999 Sugar Bowl win over Texas A&M and several top 5 finishes. Even with his success, Cooper developed the label of not being able to win the big game by going 2-10-1 in “The Game” and 3-8 in Bowl games that cost the Buckeyes a shot at a couple of National Championships.

In order to get over that hump, former Athletic Director Andy Geiger brought in unknown to most, Jim Tressel from Youngstown State, where he won several National Championships at the I-AA (now the FCS) level. Coach Tressel not only won “The Game”—8-1 versus Michigan—but in year two brought a National Championship to Columbus. The first in 22 years. The Sweater Vest could do no wrong. But, then it did go wrong. Two embarrassing loses in BCS National Title games to Florida and LSU began the chatter that OSU and the Big Ten were inferior to the SEC, and in many experts opinions the PAC-12 and Big 12 as well. You add the Maurice Clarett and Tattoogate dramas and the Buckeye program became the butt of jokes and puns nationwide. Once again, Ohio State was at a low point on and off the field and Coach Tressel resigned.

It was clear the only person to get the program back on track was another coach who revered the man who put it on the map. Urban Meyer. The first pages of his chapter is why the 2014 season is such a fairytale. Coach Meyer inherited bowl sanctions that kept the 2012 Buckeye team from competing for a National Championship with their 12-0 record. The 2013 team ran the win streak to 24 before finishing with disappointing loses in the Big Ten Championship game to Michigan State and the 2014 Orange Bowl to Clemson, that only turned up the volume on Ohio State haters.

But the tone of the chatter has changed now that Meyer just capped off his third season with the best start of any Buckeye football head coach; the Buckeyes are 38-3 in Meyer’s tenure. It’s even changed the way the Big Ten as a whole is viewed.

If Cooper revived the Buckeye program and Tressel restored them to glory, then Urban Meyer has just redeemed the program by not only slaying the SEC giant, but getting the best recruits from all around the country to bleed and sweat in “The Shoe” and bringing the first National Title of the new College Football Playoff to the 614.

What Coach Meyer has done is changed the balance of power that resembles the success of the man he admired and created the Buckeye powerhouse. The Buckeyes have returned to their rightful place, on the throne of College Football.

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Urban Meyer has redeemed Buckeye Nation. Courtesy: Cleveland.com