Ohio State shows that a top program won’t go down with the coach, now having forced out two of their greatest coaches (Woodie Hayes and Jim Tressel). Jim Tressel shows he was right when he wrote in The Winners Manual for the Game of Life that “non-religious people can be moral and religious people can be immoral.” I’m sure he didn’t intend to be evidence of the second part himself.
There has been a tremendous link between Ohio State and Michigan historically, especially with the rivalry between Woody and his former assistant Bo Schembechler. It is ironic that both schools removed their head coach this year with rules violations and NCAA sanctions playing a role in both. In the case of Ohio State, rules violations were the only problem, while at Michigan Rich Rodriguez’s rules violations were just one more count against a coach who turned out to be a terrible fit from the start.
The coaching changes might should help restore a rivalry which has been far too one-sided since Tressel arrived. Tressel’s predecessor John Cooper had a record of 2-10-1 against Michigan, leading to his removal. I doubt a program such as Ohio States’s will fall this far again, unless brought about by severe sanctions from the NCAA. I’m sure that Ohio State’s motivation in pushing Tressel out was to transfer the blame to him and not the school, hoping to minimize sanctions. Their chances might have been better if they took action when they learned of Tressel’s deception back in January.
Despite the problems in Columbus, Michigan will have to improve tremendously from last year to beat Ohio State, along with Nebraska who is now the 12the team in the Big Ten (leaving the Big Twelve with only ten teams). There is considerable optimism that this will occur under new coach Brady Hoke, who at very least has avoided the mistakes Rodriguez made in his first few months at Michigan, including showing ignorance of the importance of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. It appears that Hoke might strengthen the offense by not relying solely on Denard Robinson, and hopefully improve the kicking game with the kicker starting in September. The biggest question is how quickly he can recover the defense, especially when using players recruited under Rodriguez.
It will be interesting to see how Jim Tressel and Rich Rodriguez do when looking for new jobs. Presumably Tressel will have the better chance, with many teams being willing to look beyond the fact that he lied during the NCAA investigation in light of his successful record. Rodriguez’s rules violations were less severe, but his record is now mixed with success at West Virginia followed by failure at Michigan.
In the case of Rich Rodriguez, it comes down to finding the right fit. He has shown he can win, at least at West Virginia, with the spread offense, but has no ability to alter his offense to fit the players on a team. His handling of other aspects of the game is questionable. I can see three scenarios for Rodriguez. He would be best off if a major team already using the spread should develop an opening at head coach. He would make an even better choice for a team utilizing the spread with an opening at offensive coordinator, but I don’t know if he would want to move downwards in this manner. A third possibility is that he might work out at a school which is not a major football power and is willing to take time to build a team under Rodriguez’s ideas. It would also help if this was in a weaker conference, such as the Big East, as opposed to the Big Ten.
This has got to be the worst day in the history of Buckeye football since Bo Schembechler upset them in 1969