Tag:Jim Tressel
Posted on: February 25, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Ohio St. recruiting class finishes with Carter

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Ohio State added a 24th and final member to its recruiting class yesterday, but that signee won't arrive in Columbus without some degree on controversy.

That signee is Chris Carter, the 6'6", 350-pound offensive lineman who on Signing Day, Feb. 1, was arrested on suspicion fondling multiple underage girls while pretending to measure them for ROTC uniforms. The arrest threw Carter's future with the Buckeyes into doubt, but a lack of evidence resulted in the case being dismissed shortly afterwards.

After "three weeks of looking into the situation," Jim Tressel elected to overlook the arrest and welcome Carter with open arms :
"He has had a great support system at home, as well as at his high school. ... They truly believe that Chris will have great success on and off the field at Ohio State."
Whether fair or not, Tressel will have to hope that makes good on that promise of "great success off the field," since few players in Columbus (if any) will be under as much scrutiny for their off-field behavior. But if Carter can prove the arrest and suspicion is truly behind him, the Buckeyes will be getting a huge building block for an offensive line that has occasionally struggled against top-flight competition in recent years.

Posted on: January 31, 2011 7:10 pm
 

How important is a coach's age to winning titles?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Virginia Tech-centric blog Gobbler Country posted an interested study today, examining the breakdown of championship-winning coaches' ages in the modern era of college football. The question raised is "how old is too old," and excepting some obvious outliers, the answer is "younger than you think."

For the champions, I used the BCS from 1998-present, the coaches' poll from 1982-1997 and the AP poll from 1960-1981.

Time span Avg. Age
1960-69 46.4
1970-79 51.0
1980-89 48.6
1990-99 55.6
2000-10 49.9
BCS Era 55.1
1960-2010 51.3

The ages of head coaches have fluctuated from mid 40s to mid 50s since 1960, but the average has been a little over 51 years of age. However, there has been one coach that has helped break the curve. Take away Bobby Bowden's two titles and the average in the 90's shrinks to 52.8 and the BCS era shrinks to 53.8.

What's even more unsettling to programs with older coaches is the breakdown of championships by age bracket:

Age Span Champs
< 40 5
40-44 9
45-49 9
50-54 14
55-59 9
60 + 5

Not only is there a precipitous dropoff from the early 50s to 60+, those five titles were won by just three coaches: The aforementioned Bowden with two, Bear Bryant with two, and Joe Paterno -- the three most celebrated coaches of the modern era of I-A football. What's more, Bryant had won his first title at the age of 50, while Paterno won his first at 56. Bowden didn't win his first until he was 64, but that was after six straight top-five finishes in the final poll for Florida State. In other words, each of those three coaches firmly established his national championship bona fides before his 60th birthday, while every other coach who ever hit 60 in the last 50 years was quite evidently past his prime.

It's not really surprising, then, to have seen Maryland jettison longtime head coach Ralph Friedgen, who was 63 at the end of the 2010 and who clearly wasn't about to win a title at such a mediocre football school (no offense, Terps, but let's be honest). Incoming coach Randy Edsall will have just turned 53 at the outset of the 2011 season, and while one might joke that Maryland's only got two seasons of Edsall in his prime before it all goes downhill, it's not as if he's got 15 years in front of him with the Terrapins.

So with all this in mind, here are a few more notable coaches and their ages as of the start of the 2011 season. It would be incorrect to say there's a "new generation" of coaches on the move (seven years or so doesn't really constitute a generational gap) but it's pretty clear that a few of these guys aren't lasting much more than five years -- especially if they're not winning 10 games a year anymore.

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech, 64
Mack Brown, Texas, 60
Gene Chizik, Auburn, 49
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa, 56
Al Golden, Miami, 42
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State, a man, 44
Brady Hoke, Michigan, 52
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame, 49
Chip Kelly, Oregon, 47
Lane Kiffin, USC, 36
Mike Leach, free agent, 50
Les Miles, LSU, 57
Dan Mullen, Mississippi St., 39
Will Muschamp, Florida, 40
Joe Paterno, Penn State, 84
Gary Patterson, TCU, 51
Bo Pelini, Nebraska, 43
Chris Petersen, Boise State, 46
Bobby Petrino, Arkansas, 50
Mark Richt, Georgia, 51
Nick Saban, Alabama, 59
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma, 50
Jim Tressel, Ohio State, 58
Kyle Whittingham, Utah, 51

Now obviously, not all of these schools are going to win national championships in the next 5-10 years. But by and large, most of these schools do pay their coaches a gigantic salary -- to the point that the expectation of competing on a national level is inevitable. If a coach is struggling in his fourth or fifth year with a program, is an athletic director going to be more apt to fire the coach if he's 57 instead of 47? Is that age discrimination, or common sense?

Posted on: January 18, 2011 12:14 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2011 2:36 pm
 

A reminder: the Buckeye Five are coming back

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Columbus Dispatch issued a kind of update this morning on the appeals process with the "Buckeye Five," the five Ohio State players -- including star juniors Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey and Daniel "Boom" Herron -- suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of 2011 for receiving improper benefits at a Columbus tattoo parlor (among other offenses). The appeal should begin soon, though based on the precedents set by the NCAA when reviewing similar appeals last season, it seems unlikely any of the five will have their suspensions reduced.

But the simple fact that the appeal is moving forward as planned, even after the deadline for early draft declarations, means it's worth making note of another fact: all five suspended players will return for their senior seasons.

That's not an insignificant deal. Yes, all five players reportedly promised Jim Tressel they'd return before getting the controversial OK to play in the Sugar Bowl, but it's one thing to make that promise. It's another to keep it with hundreds of thousands of dollars available in the draft and a five-game suspension waiting on the other side of the offseason.

Obviously, it's terrific news for the Buckeyes, who with their Pryor-Herron-Posey "triplets" intact should be able to make a run at yet another Big Ten championship down the 2011 stretch. But it's also a huge rebuttal to the many, many critics of the NCAA's (and Tressel's) decision to allow the players to play in the bowl game. Much of that criticism was centered around the assumption that faced with the suspensions, many of the Buckeye Five would simply declare for the draft instead, thereby avoiding punishment altogether.

We know now that's not going to happen. Pryor, Posey and Herron will "do their time," so to speak. The NCAA's form of justice, whatever you think of it, will be served.

There are still valid reasons to criticize the NCAA and Tressel for allowing the Buckeye Five to take the field in New Orleans. But "they won't get punished at all" is no longer one of them, and as frequently as that charge was levied in December, more than a few critics owe the parties involved here a retraction.

HT: DocSat .


Posted on: January 11, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2011 7:38 pm
 

Michigan must give Hoke a chance to succeed

Posted by Tom Fornelli

He's not the man Michigan may have wanted with its first choice, but as things stand, Brady Hoke is the new head coach in Ann Arbor.  He's the 19th coach in the school's history, and though some members of the Michigan fan base may respond with "Who?" upon hearing his name, he's not simply an afterthought.

Of course Les Miles or Jim Harbaugh would be Dave Brandon's first choice.  They are the quintessential "Michigan Men" that seems to be so important in Ann Arbor.  They've played at the school. Miles coached at the school, and he even has a national championship under his belt. Jim Harbaugh hasn't done either, but he was the coach du jour this winter.  And one with Michigan roots at that. Hoke isn't the definition of a "Michigan Man," as he played his college ball at Ball State, but he did spend eight seasons coaching Michigan's defensive line.  Including the 1997 season, the last time Michigan won a national championship. So he knows what it takes to win in Ann Arbor, as he's done it before. 

There's another difference between Les Miles, Jim Harbaugh and Brady Hoke other than their "Michigan Man" credentials, and it is probably something that is a lot more important than where either played college football.

Brady Hoke wants to be at Michigan.  It's clear that after two failed attempts to land him that Les Miles doesn't.  He may say he does, as he doesn't want to denigrate where he came from, but Miles is happy at LSU. He knows he can win there, and he's not sure that he can do the same at Michigan.  Harbaugh always had his sight set on the NFL, and now he's got his dream job.

Michigan is Brady Hoke's dream job.

Brady Hoke seems to believe he can win in Ann Arbor, and what reason do we really have to doubt him?  He took over his alma mater in 2003 and turned the program around in six seasons, leading the team to a 12-1 campaign in 2008.  Hoke then left for San Diego State, and Ball State hasn't won 12 games since.  Hell, they haven't won seven games since.

Hoke then took over a San Diego State program that had been dormant since Marshall Faulk was tearing apart defenses, and in two seasons turned the program around and led the Aztecs to a 9-4 mark in 2010.  Including a win over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Do you notice a trend here?  Hoke has gone to programs that were trending downward and built them back up.  Sure, there's a difference between the Big Ten and the MAC and Mountain West.  There's no denying this, but there's also a difference in building a program up when there's that block "M" on your hat and not the Ball State or San Diego State logo.

As long as Michigan gives Hoke some time, and I know it will be tough considering the down times of the Rich Rodriguez era, he will get this program on the right track.  Will he lead them to a national championship?  Only time will tell, but here's something else that Michigan fans should remember before dumping all over the Hoke hire.

Jim Tressel wasn't Ohio State's first choice after it fired John Cooper. He was just some coach from tiny Youngstown State. How's that worked out for them?
Posted on: January 5, 2011 2:40 am
 

Bowl Grades: Sugar Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Ohio State builds a 31-13 second-half lead and -- despite a safety, lost fumble, and blocked punt, all in the fourth quarter -- holds off a furious Arkansas rally to win a classic, 31-26.

OHIO STATE

Offense: Terrelle Pryor may never be remembered as the dominant force-of-nature his raw talent suggests he can be, but it won't be for his bowl performances. The Sugar Bowl MVP racked up 336 yards-from-scrimmage (221 passing, 115 rushing), accounted for two touchdowns without committing a turnover, and was sensational on third down, converting multiple hopeless-looking situations into third downs with his scrambling.

Add Pryor's night to big ones from Dane Sanzenbacher (only three receptions but two touchdowns, one on a fumble recovery), Boom Herron (87 yards, one score), and the Buckeye offensive line (5.0 yards-per-carry, no sacks allowed vs. the nation's 12th-ranked pass rush) and it's easy to see how the Buckeyes raced out to a 28-7 first-half lead. They had a much rougher second half -- only 110 yards of offense after 336 at halftime, and Herron's safety and fumble handed Arkansas two gift-wrapped opportunities -- but they also never made the killer mistake to let the Hogs all the way back. GRADE: B+

Defense: Start with Cameron Heyward, a night-long nightmare for the Hog offensive line who for all of Pryor's brilliance should have been the game MVP. Then there's the four sacks, the mediocre 5.9 yards allowed per pass play (despite the loss of top corner Chimdi Chekwa to a broken hand early in the game), and the one touchdown allowed over the course of Arkansas's final 12 possessions.

But most of all, there's this: with the Hogs within one possession following the Herron safety, their final four drives started at the 50-yard line, the Arkansas 44, the Ohio State 48, and the OSU 18. Total results of those drives? 39 yards, three points, two punts, and one backbreaking turnover. There's clutch defense, and then there's that. GRADE: A-

Coaching:
A bizarre first-half onsides kick attempt aside, Jim Tressel and his staff pushed the right buttons, kept the defense together in the face of multiple injuries, and had his team plenty ready to play on both sides of the ball. You beat a 10-win SEC team in the Sugar Bowl, you've done a lot of things right, GRADE: A-

ARKANSAS

Offense:
The Hogs finished with an impressive 402 yards against the No. 2 defense in the country, but no one's going to remember that. They'll remember the devastating parade of drops from the Hog receivers (six in all, half of them from particularly-butterfingered wideout Joe Adams) , the Swiss cheese pass protection, the wasted opportunity after wasted opportunity down the stretch, and finally the one game-icing mistake from Ryan Mallett. There's a lot to say for an offense that puts up those kinds of yards (including a quiet 139 yards rushing for Knile Davis, if there can be such a thing) and even the 26 points against a defense as stout as the Buckeyes, but as many chances as the Hog defense and special teams gave Bobby Petrino's favorite unit, there's also little question they should have found a way to finish the comeback. GRADE: C-

Defense:
For most of the first half, the Hogs looked like the rock-bottom group from 2009 rather than the much-improved outfit we saw in 2010, missing tackles left and right (Pryor is one thing, but when Sanzenbacher is juking his way out of tight spots, you've got issues) and leaving massive gaps both up front and in the secondary. 336 first-half yards to an attack as generally non-explosive as the Buckeyes' (not to mention the 28 points) pretty much says it all.

To their credit, the Hogs responded with a huge second half, giving up just one net point after yielding one field goal and scoring a safety of their own. But maybe the offense could have gotten all the way out of the hole if it hadn't been quite so deep to begin with. GRADE: B-

Coaching:
Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson deserves some kudos for his halftime adjustments and Petrino a handful for keeping his team's head in the game down big, but Petrino made some curious play calls (repeatedly asking for draws or screens on third-and-long when his quarterback possesses the strongest arm in the college game) and could have been more aggressive looking for six points late in the game rather than settling for three. Still, the Hogs' biggest problems -- his line's terrible play, the wretched drops -- were more player execution problems than coaching issues. We think. GRADE: B

FINAL GRADE:
Games simply don't get a whole lot more dramatic than this one, with the outcome seemingly riding on each and every play in the fourth quarter and momentum swinging back and forth like the needle of a metronome. If this was our appetizer for the BCS national title game, we can't wait for the main course. GRADE: A

 

Posted on: January 2, 2011 12:12 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Sugar Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Basics: Ohio State (11-1) vs. Arkansas (10-2), Jan. 4, 8:30pm ET

Why You Should Watch: This game will feature one of the more interesting matchups in the BCS this season, and in the bowl games.  On one side you have a program that is no stranger to the BCS, nor to facing an SEC opponent (Ohio State is 0-9 against the SEC in bowl games) while there in Ohio State.  The other side has a team that's looking around like "Wow."  Arkansas has had some success in the last decade, but the Sugar Bowl isn't a stage it's grown accustomed to.  In fact, this is Arkansas' first appearance in a BCS game, and first trip to the Sugar Bowl since 1980. 

It's also a clash of styles.  Ohio State presents an offense that prefers to keep things close to its sweatervest, preferring to move the ball down the field slowly, and occasionally go for the big play.  Arkansas is a team that can score from anywhere on the field at anytime, and is literally trying to score on every play.  It'll be like a poker game where one guy is pushing all his chips in on every play, and the other is just sitting around waiting for pocket aces.

Keys to Victory for Ohio State: As I mentioned above, Ohio State and Jim Tressel have a very particular approach to football, and if they're going to win this game, it's a formula they'll likely need to stick to.  Ohio State's defense is pretty strong, but the best way to keep the Arkansas offense from putting points on the board is to keep the Arkansas offense on the sideline.  So while Terrelle Pryor has plenty of talent and nice weapons in Devier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher, the Buckeyes best bet is to keep the ball on the ground and in the hands of Brandon Saine and Dan Herron.

On defense, the goal is simple, but not easy to execute: stop Ryan Mallett.  Mallett has thrown for 3,627 yards and 30 touchdowns this season, so it will be a key for Ohio State's defense to get pressure on him and not allow him to sit in the pocket and pick apart the secondary.  Of course, while focusing on Mallett, the Buckeyes can't afford to sleep on Knile Davis.  Davis has rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns, and is often overlooked due to the Arkansas passing attack.

Keys to Victory for Arkansas: Now, we know that Arkansas has a high powered offense.  One that is 4th in the nation in passing yards with 349.2 a game, but its average of 37.3 points per game is actually below Ohio State's output of 39.4 points a game.  So we know that Mallett, Greg Childs and the rest of the Razorback offense is going to make some plays.

The key will be whether or not Arkansas' defense can stop the Buckeyes.  The Hogs have lost two games this season.  One was a shootout against Auburn that saw its defense give up 65 points to Auburn.  The other was a game in which the Hogs only managed 20 points against Alabama.  Ohio State will be the toughest defense Arkansas has faced since that game, and the Arkansas defense will have to do its part to keep the Hogs in the game.  To do this the Hogs will have to make Pryor one-dimensional.  Either take away the pass and force him to beat you with his legs, or take away the running lanes and force him to beat you with his arm.

The Sugar Bowl is like: Well, it's like a big bowl of sugar.  It tastes really good, gets you incredibly excited, but in the end, you're just going to crash and it won't really mean anything in the bigger picture.  Of course, that won't stop you from doing it all over again.
Posted on: December 29, 2010 2:50 pm
 

The NCAA does not appreciate being mocked, y'all

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As they did in the wake of their ruling that Cam Newton was eligible -- and the media firestorm that accompanied it -- the NCAA has again issued a statement outlining a recent decision , this time the Ohio State suspensions, and this time they are angry . Or at least, they're as angry as a near-faceless all-encompassing bureacracy can be:

Several media and others recently concluded that very different situations involving student-athlete eligibility should be considered independent of their unique circumstances or interpreted with a "one size fits all" approach.

In particular, they are comparing recent decisions involving The Ohio State University and Auburn University (and others). Some have even suggested the NCAA plays favorites in these types of situations based in part or in whole on financial considerations.

Nothing could be farther from the truth ...

[T]he notion that the NCAA is selective with its eligibility decisions and rules enforcement is another myth with no basis in fact. Money is not a motivator or factor as to why one school would get a particular decision versus another. Any insinuation that revenue from bowl games in particular would influence NCAA decisions is absurd.

The NCAA throwing around words like "absurd" is the equivalent of your standard columnist or blogger typing out an expletive-laced ALL-CAPS rant. They are, to understate things for effect, not entirely happy.

And though he is well in the minority, this blogger for one doesn't blame them a bit. The criticism of the NCAA's Ohio State ruling seems to simultaneously accuse the organization of being too strict ("Why can Cecil Newton get away with asking for $180,000 while the Buckeyes get punished for a few underpriced tattoos and for selling their own possessions?" ) and, somehow, too lenient ("Why do the Buckeyes get to play in the bowl game when they're suspended?" ). As the saying goes, a good compromise leaves everyone unhappy, and from here it looks like handing down a five-game suspension but allowing the accused Buckeyes to play the biggest game of their current season looks like it fits that bill. (As for the Sugar Bowl's lobbying, please note that it was in the direction of Ohio State and Jim Tressel to keep them from sitting the players themselves, not the NCAA.)

The NCAA is also correct that comparisons between the Newton case and Ohio State's -- not to mention Reggie Bush's, Renardo Sidney's , and the like -- don't entirely fly when the NCAA has no evidence (as of yet) the Newtons received any benefits and plenty of evidence the Buckeyes did. As has been pointed out elsewhere , those accusing the NCAA of inconsistency miss that their response to accepted benefits has been very consistent indeed.

This isn't to say the NCAA hasn't earned its reputation for capriciousness over the years (and then some). There's solid arguments to be made that the Buckeyes should be sitting the Sugar Bowl, that their bylaws should have more clearly anticipated a situation like the Newtons', that the bylaws ought to be looser where relatively minor benefits are concerned (particulary considering how much money the athletes in question are earning for the programs they represent).

But the NCAA is right -- this time -- that just causally tossing out a comparison between the Newtons and the Buckeyes alongside words like "inconsistent" and "biased" isn't a fair method of criticism.

Posted on: December 29, 2010 11:31 am
 

Sugar Bowl pushed OSU to keep players eligible

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Tuesday the six Ohio State players who were suspended for five games next season sat down in front of the television cameras and assembled media and told they world they were sorry for what they'd done.  Of course, just because the Suspended Six took responsibility for their actions, that doesn't mean that the world will just forgive them, nor accept the punishment they've received.

In fact, plenty of college football fans have expressed anger about the fact that the players are all suspended for five games next season yet get to play in the Sugar Bowl.  There had been talk of the team and Jim Tressel benching the players in the game on its own, but it doesn't seem like that's going to happen.  Why? Well, because it's doubtful that Ohio State would sit those players for the Sugar Bowl after the Sugar Bowl spent so much time telling them to lobby as hard as they could to keep the players eligible for the game.

On Tuesday, after the apologies, Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan had no problem letting everybody know that he pressured Ohio State to fight as hard as it could to keep the players eligible for the game, and have the suspensions put off until next season.  Apparently Hoolahan first heard about the suspensions on December 7, a full two weeks before they became public.

"I made the point that anything that could be done to preserve the integrity of this year's game, we would greatly appreciate it," Hoolahan told The Columbus Dispatch. "That appeal did not fall on deaf ears, and I'm extremely excited about it, that the Buckeyes are coming in at full strength and with no dilution."

So, just in case you were wondering who really runs this sport, now you know.  Hoolahan also went on to say that while he understands why some Ohio State fans would want the players suspended for the bowl game, he "probably thinking of this from a selfish perspective."

I know, I'm shocked to hear that a bowl game would be thinking of itself and not the players, schools or fans too.
 
 
 
 
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