I haven't posted here in awhile but the latest agonizing defeat has spurred me to thought regarding my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes and coach Jim Tressel. It is pretty clear that Tressel is no longer the right man to make the play calls or even stand on the sidelines with the young adults that he coaches.
Don't get me wrong, Tressel has had astounding success in his tenure with the Buckeyes. Even after the USC loss, he boasts an outstanding record of 84-20 with countless Big Ten titles and 3 BCS Bowl victories; one in the 2002 National Championship against the then vaunted Miami Hurricanes. Oh yeah, he's also beaten Michigan.
At almost every other public institution in the country, such a resume would render any notions of his dismissal as nothing short of laughable. However, The Ohio State University has a football program deeply steeped in college football history with a proud tradition. Thus, the latest defeats which have made the Scarlet and Gray the laughingstock of the nation have caused fans to wonder why they have a perceived inability to win the big game. The blame for that primarily lies on the shoulders of Coach Tressel. This is not an exoneration of the players themselves as they have consistently underperformed on the national stage, particularly in 2006 against Florida. Yet even then, one has to wonder if their mediocre play is a result of poor game preparation by the Sweater Vest.
The most recent of what feels like many heartbreaks was perhaps the game when Ohio State looked as good if not better than the opponent. The defense played with intensity, forcing the Trojans into crucial mistakes while the offense however unspectacular, was able to make plays that contributed to the lead they had throughout the game. However, Tressel's poor decisions and play calling turned what could have been a blowout win in favor of Ohio State to a closely contested game and eventual loss. He was aggressive when he should have been cautious in calling for a pass right before the half; the incompletion stopped the clock and gave the Trojans the opportunity to march down the field for a field goal. He was also cautious when he should have been aggressive by settling for a field goal when the Bucks were just mere feet from the scarlet end zone. That's not to mention the conservative and often obvious play calls he made; at one stretch in the game, I believe the Buckeyes ran up the middle on at least 3 consecutive series on first down. Against weak Big Ten opponents, such a faulty game plan might still lead to victory but those same plans have been constantly exposed by the likes of Florida, LSU, Texas and USC.
Winning the Big Ten and beating Michigan should not be enough for Ohio State fans anymore. As then New York Jets coach Herman Edwards said so eloquently, "You play to win the game!" Right now, the Buckeyes play for a Big Ten title and BCS Bowl loss. That is unacceptable for such a storied program and I would like to see a new coach who can maximize the potential of his players and finally put an end to our misery by winning the big game.