OK, I admit it. I'm an eternal optimist. I LOVE to look at the bright side of things. It's not easy to do, considering I'm a fan of Cleveland sports, but I manage. Keep my optimism in mind as you read this post, but I believe you will be smiling when you see what I'm thinking today.
OK, why are you so happy?
Ohio State will win 9 games in 2007 and will return to the National Championship following either the 2008 or 2009 season.
Are you kidding me?
No. And it's not just a feeling I have.
But the Buckeyes just lost every high-profile player they have on offense! They have to rebuild and you think they'll make the title game?
Ohio State under Jim Tressel will only need one year to rebuild. It's the way Tressel does things and he will continue with this pattern.
Pattern? What pattern?
Every three years, Tressel will have one rebuilding season, one great season, and one Championship run.
In 2001, he took over a team that was in shambles. John Cooper left us a wreck. For crying out loud, our starting quarterback for Steve Bellisari! Ohio State went 7-5 in 2001, but we were much better than that, thanks to Tressel. Bellisari was an AWFUL quarterback, but we only lost 4 games with him on the field, all of them by 7 points or less.
So you're praising a 7-5 season because we didn't lose by a lot?
No, that was the rebuilding year, and an entire team was adjusting to a new coach and a new attitude. Plus, Tressel made a GREAT move when he benched Bellisari and put Craig Krenzel on the field against Michigan. It gave Krenzel the experience he needed for 2002.
You want to see how well Tressel rebuilt that team in one year, just look at the following season. 14-0, and a National Championship. Now THAT'S progress in a hurry!
I agree, Tressel did a great job, but most of those games were also very close. Why do those games not get mentioned as being close?
Well, they do...but in one short season, Tressel taught his team to WIN those close games. Perfect example - we lost at home to Wisconsin by 3, and turned it into a 5-point win on the road. That's Tressel preparing his team over the long road.
And then in 2003, we had our great season, going 11-2. Flirting with a title, but falling just short. And still dominating a great opponent in a major bowl game.
I can agree 11-2 is great.
Me too. Then came 2004. Our new rebuilding year. 8-4 on the season, and it might have been the most difficult season to watch in a LONG time. But Tressel used that season to rebuild us properly....for example, when he saw that Justin Zwick wasn't the best fit for our offense, he made the switch to Troy Smith. I doubt anybody will claim that switch was the wrong thing to do, and it led to greatness.
I see where you're going with this.
Tressel's ability to rebuild properly led to Smith getting a LOT of quality time on the field, and he used that experience to get the Buckeyes their great season in 2005, this time going 10-2. We capped it off with a domination of Notre Dame in a major bowl.
Which then led to a season where they made a championship run.....
Exactly. 12-1 and a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. See the pattern now?
Yes. But how can you guarantee it'll happen again?
Because Jim Tressel is the Head Coach. He started towards the rebuild last year and will continue in 2007, making adjustments as needed.
For example, Beanie Wells was looking like a problem for most of the season, fumbling away the ball TOO many times. But JT took him aside, told him he was still the man, and gave him the ball against Michigan. Wells heads into 2007 with a TON of confidence because Jim Tressel looked him in the eye and played the role of a GREAT coach.
You actually think that one long run is that important?
No. Just giving him the ball against Michigan is that important. Wells taking it for a TD just showed Tressel that he made the right decision.
So now we head into 2007, our rebuilding year. Tressel will evaluate our QB situation and will work on improving the defense. Wells and Brandon Saine will probably start at RB and Robiskie and Hartline will start at WR because Tressel gave them lots of time last year, doing what........??????
Setting them up for their rebuilding year, right?
Exactly! And that foresight gives Tressel plenty of opportunity to focus on other positions!
And you KNOW that we'll return to greatness and a title run in '08 and '09??? Really?
Yes, I know the pattern will continue.
Because Jim Tressel is in charge. I know he'll make the right moves, just like he did with Krenzel in 2001, Troy Smith in 2004, and Wells in 2006. I've never been more confident in a coach than I am in him.