Every year that Jim Tressel has taken The Ohio State University to the Big Ten conference football title, a case for Big Ten Coach of the Year has been made for some other conference mentor.
Buckeyes Lead Nation in BCS
The Buckeyes lead the nation in BCS (Bowl Championship Series) appearances with eight; Tressel has taken them to seven BCS bowls in nine years, including three national title contests. The Big Ten leads the nation in BCS appearances with 21. The SEC (Southeastern Conference) is second with 19.
In 2002 the Buckeyes, coached by Tressel in his second year at the helm, ran the conference gambit unbeaten and won the national title with an unpredicted victory over Miami in double overtime.
Ohio State appeared in rare back-to-back national title games in 2007 and 2008, losing both times. They were unbeaten in their conference in 2006.
Tressel Can’t Buy A Big Ten Coaching Award
In Tressel’s nine years, the Big Ten Coach of the Year has been handed to Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz three times (2009, 2004, 2002). In 2002, Ferentz’s and Tressel’s teams tied for the Big Ten title without meeting. In 2004 and in 2009, Ferentz lost conference games to Tressel.
Penn State’s Joe Paterno has achieved Big Ten Coach of the Year twice in Tressel’s reign (2008 and 2005), beating Tressel once in those two meetings.
Other coaches of the year in Tressel’s time include 2001’s long-departed Ron Turner of Illinois (Illinois won the title); 2003’s long-departed John L. Smith of Michigan State (Michigan won the title); 2006’s first-time head coach Bret Bielema of Wisconsin (OSU won its first outright Big Ten title since 1984); and 2007’s Ron Zook of Illinois, who beat the Buckeyes before OSU won the Big Ten title and appeared in the national title game.
It may be concluded that Tressel’s play book that features field position, defense, and conservatism isn’t fancy enough to win coach of the year awards whether the Buckeyes are highly rated in pre-season polls, or are claimed to be in a rebuilding year.
Last season was an apparent rebuilding year for the Buckeyes, and they won the conference championship for a record-tying fifth straight season, still not good enough to warrant a coach of the year award for Tressel. In nine seasons, seven conference titles, and five straight Big Ten championships, three outright and two tied with Penn State, Tressel has no conference coach of the year hardware.
Buckeyes Conference Undefeated With Tressel
OSU has accomplished two unbeaten seasons under Tressel, in 2002 with junior quarterback Craig Krenzel leading the Buckeyes to the national title, and in 2006, when senior Troy Smith took the Buckeye attack to the national title game.
Much is expected this year of Tressel’s developing junior quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, who came in from Jeannette, Pennsylvania as a freshman and last season won an MVP in the Rose Bowl as the Buckeyes bowled over the high octane offense of the Oregon Ducks.
Can Pryor Bring in Coaching Hardware?
Pryor passed for 2,094 yards as a sophomore and led the Buckeyes in rushing with 779 yards. In the Rose Bowl, Tressel opened the flood gates for Pryor, who churned out 72 yards on a bum knee, and had his biggest passing day, hurling for 266 yards on 23 completions from 37 attempts.
Pryor’s knee is healed, but is Tressel’s play book open to a new era? The Buckeyes begin the season ranked No.2 on September 2 against in-state rival Marshal.