Friday, June 5, 2009

How Does Jim Tressel Compare to Other Top Coaches?

by Tim Bielik
BlockONation Analyst

Any fan of college football cannot deny that Jim Tressel has returned Ohio State football to the powerhouse program status that has not been there since the Woody Hayes era.

He brought the Buckeyes their first national title since the Hayes era.

He made Ohio State the most dominant team in the Big Ten consistently during his tenure.

He has brought excitement back to Columbus and even created a cult following.

He has even popularized the sweater vest, something thought to be impossible in this fashion era.

But where does he rank among the best coaches in the country? Based on his record, some will argue that he belongs in the class of Pete Carroll and Nick Saban among others.

Others feel that the talent he has recruited has made him look better than he is.

But some factors contribute to making him one of the most talented and respected coaches.

One thing he does very well is managing egos. Except for Maurice Clarett, not many people get into off-field altercations in Columbus.

Tressel is well-recognized as a class act and often takes players to help give back to the community that supports the football program so much.

And in the state of Ohio, where football is most important, that means a lot to the fans.

Another thing he does well is recruit. Being the best football team in a state with an abundance of talented high school teams means that Tressel usually gets his first choice of in-state recruits.

Lately, he has made his strongest pushes out of state, challenging for big recruits from other states including Pennsylvania and Florida.

As a result, Tressel has pieced together such a talented group of young players that the Buckeyes reload constantly. This year could very well prove to be no exception.

Something else he has been able to do is adjust his style to his personnel, rather than the other way around.

A perfect example is differentiating 2006 with 2007.

In 2006, The Vest had Troy Smith at the helm, along with a slew of talented receivers including Ted Ginn Jr. That year, they had one of the more prolific offenses in the country for 12 of their 13 games of the season (obviously excluding Florida).

2007 was much different. Todd Boeckman took control of the huddle, and OSU had super sophomore RB Chris Wells ready to light up the Big Ten—and he did.

That year, OSU went back to their running roots, although they did air out deep bombs with some consistency.

Even defensively, he has made adjustments within the season. The beginning of 2008 saw a very passive defensive unit which did very little blitzing.

Midway through, the switch flipped and the defense changed personalities, become way more aggressive with the improved play of the defensive line.

Obviously, Tressel has not performed all that well in games against BCS teams in recent years. However, one can argue that Ohio State did not have the personnel to compete with those better teams.

Other coaches have cemented their reputations on winning countless titles and having dynasties.

Tressel has lost his last three BCS games. The only other coach that has lost more in a row among the recognized elites is Bob Stoops.

Meanwhile, for example, Pete Carroll has lost only one BCS game, and Urban Meyer remains undefeated in BCS games during his total coaching career at Utah and Florida.

But still, no one can deny that since Tressel has come to Columbus, Ohio State has been one of the best teams in the country in the past decade.

In the mind of this observer, coach Tressel clearly belongs in this elite tier of coaches in college football, right up there with the Pete Carroll's and Mack Brown's and Nick Saban's of the world.

His recent run in big games has hurt his reputation slightly, but he still among the best because of his image and how he has consistently turned out stellar teams.

One thing is for sure—He has already cemented his legacy in Ohio State football lore and might one day have a street named after him just like Woody Hayes.

Who knows, maybe there already is one...

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