Saturday, June 30, 2012

ALL-TIME BUCKEYES: HEAD COACH

Woody Hayes
For the final installment of my All-Time Ohio State football team, I will provide perhaps the most important aspect of the squad — head coach.

Sure, at first glance it seems like a no-brainer being that Ohio State is home to one of the greatest coaching legends in college football history, Wayne Woodrow Hayes. Also known to the masses as simply, "Woody!"

When it comes to the overall historic factor of the program, Woody has to be the pick. He transformed Buckeyes football from a decent, winning-program into a perennial national power, and made the greatest rivalry in sports — Ohio State-Michigan — what it is today.

It would be foolish of me to argue that any person has had near the impact Woody did on the Ohio State program. I mean, it's not even close.

However, I am not bringing legend or impact into my decision of naming the Buckeyes' greatest coach of all-time. I am strictly basing it on pure coaching, and although Woody — as well as Paul Brown — have roamed the sidelines in Columbus, they are not my choice for the position.

I am going with the man I believe is the greatest "coach" the Buckeyes have ever had in its history ...

(Note: In case you haven't read the previous columns of my team, I have added a recap of my previous picks at the end of the article.)

HEAD COACH 
Jim Tressel
TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
Jim Tressel (2001-10)
In just 10 seasons at Ohio State, Tressel won at a clip that can't be looked at as anything other than remarkable, winning 106 of the 128 games he coached in Columbus. In just a decade, Tressel took the Buckeyes to a record eight BCS bowl games — and won five, including the 2002 national championship.

Tressel won more than 10 games in a season at Ohio State, eight times. He won at least a share of seven Big Ten titles and beat the hated Michigan Wolverines nine out of 10 times — by a winning-margin of two touchdowns per contest.

Tressel has been named the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, the American College Football Association Coach of the Year, the Sporting News Coach of the Year, among many others in his 10 years at Ohio State. Tressel also won four Division 1-AA national titles at Youngstown State before arriving in Columbus.

I SELECTED HIM BECAUSE ... No coach won at a better percentage at Ohio State (in at least 30 games coached) than Tressel, who was victorious in 83-percent of his games. Even if you take away his 12 wins in 2010 that were vacated by the NCAA for covering up player violations, he still has the highest percentage at .810.

Tressel knew how to get the most out of his teams, contrary to popular opinion. When you can take quarterbacks like Craig Krenzel and Todd Boeckman to national championship games, you're a man who can deal it from the sideline. Also contrary to public view, Tressel was a big-game coach. Sure, he lost three BCS bowl games in a row from 2006-08, including back-to-back national titles, but his five victories in other BCS games — including an upset victory in the national championship over Miami — cannot be ignored.

Neither can his dominance against arch-rival Michigan. In fact, coaches at Ohio State are essentially graded on how successful they are against "that school up north." Just ask John Cooper, who was 109-33-3 in 13 seasons versus everyone not named Michigan, but just 2-10-1 against. 

Tressel went 9-1 versus Michigan. No coach in OSU history has even come close to approaching that winning-percentage against the Wolverines.

Another mind-boggling fact is how many bowl games Tressel won in just a decade. Tressel led the Buckeyes to six bowl victories in his 10 seasons in Columbus. To put that in perspective, Hayes won the same amount in 18 more seasons.

Tressel also demonstrated how well he can adapt to the talent he possessed. He won games running an I-formation based offense with Krenzel, a spread attack with Troy Smith, back to the I with Boeckman and a spread zone-read with Terrelle Pryor. Three of the four quarterbacks (Krenzel, Smith, Pryor) won BCS bowl games with Tressel, while three of the four (Krenzel, Smith, Boeckman) went to national championship games — Krenzel being the lone winner.

Another aspect I cannot ignore is the grip on the program Tressel held. When he was fired before the beginning of last season, I never truly realized the power over the staff Tressel possessed. With essentially the same staff on board last year, minus Tressel, the Buckeyes looked absolutely lost, posting the worst record in three decades. He made the coaches who were on his staff over the years look better than they actually were. 

Like I said with him making less-than-stellar quarterbacks look great, he did the same for assistants like Jim Bollman and Jim Heacock.

Unfortunately, Tressel's legacy at Ohio State will be somewhat tarnished by the way it ended.

However, it will not prevent him from being named as head coach on my all-time Buckeye team.

Simply said ... "The Vest" will be roaming this writer's sidelines — well at least until Urban Meyer unseats him!


If you would like to comment, debate or offer up your opinions, you can contact me at lee@bryantimes.com or on Twitter @LeeHudnell_TBT.