Time For Tressel To Step Aside
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel has come under fire for his playcalling in the Buckeyes’ most recent stumble against a big opponent, prompting Tressel to adamantly state that he is not turning over offensive play calling (of which he does most) to someone else.
Maybe he should rethink that.
Some of the criticism is unfair and really only relies on hindsight for knowledge. I understand him going for the field goal on 4th and goal from the one yard line. It’s USC and you can use all the points you can get. Allowing a goal line stand can be a huge momentum changer.
I also understood opting to punt rather than going for a 53-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Yes, it led to USC’s 86-yard game-winning drive, but Tressel knows what his kicker can hit and to that point, OSU had bottled USC up for just 227 total yard of offense. It makes perfect sense to try and pin the Trojans deep and rely on your up-to-then reliable defense to close the game out.
Those disputable calls stated, there is one thing that Tressel and I can’t dispute – that was the fourth consecutive high profile game he’s lost. His team got trounced by the Trojans about this same time last year.
Later in the season he had a chance to jump into national title contention with a win over No. 3 Penn State, but his team managed just two field goals against the disciplined Nittany Lions, who had zero turnovers and zero penalties en route to a 13-6 win.
Tressel still got an at-large bid in the Fiesta Bowl, where they were poised to upset the Texas Longhorns, until his defense again buckled under pressure as Colt McCoy picked them apart on a game-winning 78-yard TD drive. Though I don’t blame his defense when they held Texas to a season-low 24 points. His offense failed to exploit a weak and young Longhorns secondary, throwing just 10-of-25 for 176 yards and one TD.
Four consecutive high-profile losses. And those coming on the heels of back-to-back blowout losses in BCS Championship games at the hands of Florida and LSU. (Don’t believe that deceptive 38-24 loss to LSU…it was over early when the Tigers scored 4 unanswered TDs for a 31-10 lead).
Tressel can keep defending his decisions if he wants, but the results speak for themselves. At this point, we don’t need to know why he made those calls. Lots of decisions that don’t work out seemed perfectly reasonable at the time. Unfortunately, logic doesn’t bring crystal football trophies back to Columbus. The Buckeyes need results, not excuses.
All told, when you look at the results, you feel compelled to say that it’s time for Tressel to swallow his pride and hire a new offensive coordinator who can handle the play calling. The current system isn’t getting it done.
Tressel has managed to ride his stunning 2002 national championship for a very long time. Since then he has won a couple of BCS Bowls, but his offense has also been inconsistent, at best. Since he won that national championship, he has averaged 29 points per game. Look how that matches up against the last four national championship winners during the same span:
Dead last for the Buckeyes, and a full two possessions per game behind USC and Texas. I know they have a lot of turnover, but they replace talent with talent, just like all the other schools. And yet, he’s sitting dead last, even behind LSU, which is known more for its defense than its offense.
This isn’t to say that offense is necessarily the reason OSU isn’t playing for national championships, why they’ve lost their last four high profile games or why they’ve lost three BCS bowls in a row. But it is quite clear that they have a problem on the offensive side of the ball, so it is time for Tressel limit himself to preparing his team to play each week and find a good offensive coordinator to whom he can delegate play calling.