In the News today, Jim Carty says that, despite how close the games have been “Jim Tressel owns Lloyd Carr.”
OSU has won four of the five games since Tressel took over from John Cooper for the 2001 season. The games have been close (Michigan’s one win in that time, in 2003, was a 35-21 blowout). But, Carty thinks the close scores bely Tressel’s advantage:
“…coaches put players in position to win. They do it through off-season training, game-planning and play-calling. Tressel has pushed more of the right buttons than Carr, especially on game day.”
But, Carty’s piece is strong on assertion and short on evidence. Here’s how he explains Tressel’s superior button-pushing:
“How many more? It's impossible to say. Navarre would never have been the quarterback in 2001 if Drew Henson didn't leave school. Smith's elusiveness these last two seasons is, essentially, uncoachable.
Michigan fans can look at those things, and the tight point differential, plus maybe a few plays - a turnover, a missed first down, a made catch - and know, just know, that the gap isn't really that much.”
If you’re waiting for Carty to answer this counter-claim, you’ll wait in vain. Carty never does get around to explaining what makes Tressel the better button-pusher, other than the fact that he’s won more games. Yes, winning is the bottom line. But, if you can’t explain what “it” is, how do you know it’s an unerring, unchangeable quality? Does Carty just “feel” it?
In a separate profile of Tressel, former OSU quarterback Kirk Herbstreit, who went 0-4 against Michigan, couldn’t explain why Tressel has had such success:
“I can't put my finger on it…I can't figure out if he calls different plays or if he hides some plays and saves it for that week, or why he's been able to have some success against Michigan.''
Maybe I missed this the other day, but the front screen of the Dispatch on-line has a clock counting down the time to the game: right now it’s at 3 days, four hours, 39 minutes and five sec…no four…three…two…
Now, that’s appropriate fanaticism.
Today’s Dispatch includes a profile of Troy Smith – his troubled upbringing, including several years living in foster homes, his suspension following the 2004 season for taking a $500 gift from boosters, and his performance in big games, including his torching of Michigan in 2004 and 2005 and his domination of Notre Dame in January’s Fiesta Bowl. As an aside, I view Smith as the difference in Saturday’s game, a 20-10 OSU victory (there, I made a prediction).
The Dispatch also takes its turn plumbing the historical record today. Todd Jones writes:
“With Earth wobbling on its axis because of a certain football game this week, it’s difficult to imagine a meeting between Ohio State and Michigan eliciting yawns. Forty years ago, however, the Buckeyes and Wolverines played a game that was a polar opposite, in terms of anticipation, to the showdown set to be waged Saturday.
Instead of undefeated teams ranked as the nation’s two best, the 1966 game matched a 4-4 Ohio State club against 5-4 Michigan. They were unranked and tied for fifth in the Big Ten. Some $5 reserve seats were available at the OSU ticket office the preceding Monday to that game, during a week dominated by news from the Vietnam War.
More than 1,100 media credentials were issued for this year’s OSU-Michigan game. About a dozen reporters covered the game on Nov. 19, 1966. Michigan, coached by Bump Elliott, beat Woody Hayes’ Buckeyes 17-3, but no one saw it unless they were in Ohio Stadium.
That game was not televised — the last time an OSU-Michigan game wasn’t broadcast even locally. College football junkies had their eyes turned north to East Lansing, Mich., on that cool, gray afternoon 40 years ago to see the nationally televised "Game of the Century" between No. 1 Notre Dame (8-0) and No. 2 Michigan State (9-0).
"That game was the big game," said Rick Volk, an All-America defensive back for Michigan in 1966. Even those in Ohio Stadium that day couldn’t keep their attention on the 63 rd game between the Buckeyes and Wolverines.
"Everybody had transistor radios and were listening to the Notre Dame-Michigan State game, even though they were Ohio State fans," said OSU football historian Jack Park, who was in the Horseshoe that day. "I remember a Michigan fan brought a transistor TV in the stadium and he was watching the Michigan State game."
Jones’ piece is the best in either paper today. (another historical nugget, from yesterday’s News: that, in 1961, the OSU faculty voted to deny the Buckeyes a trip to play in the RoseBowl because they felt that academics was being inappropriately overshadowed by football. Can you imagine…today…? Of course you can’t).
Rob Oller writes that the BCS has lost its monopoly on the national championship game. Why? Because bragging rights for best team in America goes to Saturday’s winner, pitting the two teams that are obviously the best in College Football, regardless of what happens 51 days later in the Fiesta Bowl.
Oller’s a critic of the BCS and offers this antidote:
“The simple solution would be to shorten the season — How could college presidents argue against that? — by scrapping the conference championship games and creating an eightteam playoff system that would begin in December. Traditionalists would not like it, but proving it on the field is the most equitable and successful way to determine the best team, not just a one-game champion. The release of the coaches’ poll would need to wait until mid-October, giving voters time to help pick the strongest teams, thereby removing most of the debate over contenders such as Rutgers.”
There are several other articles about the game, including an update on the re-sodding of the field.
The Dispatch wins this one hands down.