ASK CFN (5/9) - Is Tressel An Elite Coach?
Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel
Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel
Posted May 9, 2008

Is Jim Tressel an elite head coach? Will Penn State falter once JoePa leaves? How does BYU compare as a program with the BCS teams? These questions and more in the latest ASK CFN.

By Pete Fiutak
Fire over your questions to me at I might not be able to answer them all, but I promise they're all read. Any e-mails sent to this address may be published or edited unless requested otherwise. (Please put ASK CFN in the subject line, and PLEASE keep the questions short ... it makes my life easier.)

Past ASK CFNs ...
- A foolproof BCS solution
- An early look at OSU vs. USC
- The WVU/Rodriguez situation
- Who's the team of the decade?
- Dump Mack Brown and JoePa?!
- Big East expansion
- Is Charlie Weis on a hot seat?
- The Reggie Bush situation

- Is Bob Stoops the new Lloyd Carr?
- Why LSU winning matters
- Bowl winners & losers
- Can a two-loss team play for the title?
- The five worst recent champions 
- The Flakiest Teams
- A little BCS history
- Should USC be in the title hunt?
- The best RB you don't know
- What's wrong with Texas A&M? 
- How bad is the Big Ten?
- Will Miles run to Michigan?
- Supersized Season Premier of ASK CFN
 The most loved & hated teams
- Is Miami still a power?
- CFN's West Virginia ranking
- Is Booty Heisman-worthy?
- The USC Schedule
- The Big Ten Network
- The most underrated head coach
- The Top Ten NFL receiver prospects 

- Why did Brady Quinn slide?
- The Virginia Tech situation

- Creating a MWest-WAC super-league
Mid-majors who should be in the bigs
The potential new superpower
The 5 best coaching jobs
March Madness for football?
Potential Bowl Shockers
Tim Brewster?
Fox's BCS broadcasts
- Is Brady really better than Russell?
Hot & Cold Bowl Programs
- How ineffective was Reggie Ball?
- A 2007 Top 10 Mock Draft
Can Michigan win a national title?
- BCS possibilities for several teams
- West Virginia schedule, BCS rules
- Toughest coaching jobs
- Hidden Heisman 5

- Is Temple worst ever?
- Oklahoma-Oregon fiasco
- Has Bob Stoops lost it?
- Is Colorado done?

Prove to me that Jim Tressel deserves to be called an elite CFB coach without providing stats of how OSU has dominated an average Big Ten conference.  The past two years have shown me a side of Tressel as either a poor clutch decision maker or a terrible motivator.  Obviously, the Nat Champ games come to mind.  The Florida game I can nearly excuse b/c they got blindsided by a majorly pumped up and ticked off team.  Tell me….how can you not have your team ready to play the next year after enduring that embarrassment for an entire year?    Tressel sent the team home with videos of the Florida game to pump OSU up….looks like that didn’t work.  That game didn’t have as much poor coaching per se, but poor motivation.  It is evident that when Tressel is forced to provide decisions outside the basic game plan (aka when trailing late in a game), he lays an egg.  The other game that completely shocked me was the Illinois game.  A team that is competing to play for a Nat Champ can’t beat a team AT HOME that won 2 games the year before?  Ron Zook outcoached Jim Tressel.  That should be all I have to say.  -  JW

A: First, prove to me that the Big Ten has been an average conference, and feel free to use stats. It’s not the SEC, but it’s been better than you, or anyone else keeps giving it credit for, or not giving it credit for.

Sorry, but I’m using stats; they don’t lie. I don’t care if the Big Ten sucks, if a coach goes 73-16 in seven years with five BCS appearances, wins three of those games, beats a supposedly all-timer Miami team for a national title, goes 6-1 against the arch-rival, and gets his team to two other national title games and that’s still not enough to make him an elite coach in your eyes, your standards might be just a weeeeee bit high.

Also, you, and most of the rest of the college football world, aren’t giving 2007 LSU enough credit for being a special team. You’re dead-on right about the Florida loss; OSU was fat, lazy and overconfident, and everyone from Tressel on down has admitted as much. An argument could still be made, even after the debacle in the desert, that the 2006 Buckeyes were actually a better team than those jacked up Gators. Last year’s LSU, when rested and close to 100% healthy, which it was by the time the national title game rolled around, was the much, much better team. Ohio State was supposed to lose.

As far as that Illinois game, yeah, Zook had a fantastic gameplan and his team executed an all-timer of a fourth quarter drive to pull off the upset. That’s not Tressel’s fault; Illinois simply won the game. Kentucky and Arkansas rolled up huge yards on LSU. USC lost to Stanford. Oklahoma lost to Texas Tech. West Virginia lost to Pitt. Should I keep going? Lots of upsets happened last year. Go off the long haul and Tressel doesn’t have to apologize to anyone.

After reading about your BCS solution, I think the one thing you're not taking into account is the fans. Given your hypothetical situation for this past season, imagine for a moment if you're an Ohio State student. Your team does well and come that Sunday in December, you get that magical Rose Bowl bid. Now, you and your friends decide to make the trip, go to Pasadena. If Ohio St wins, they would then go to the National Championship game a week later in New Orleans. Is it reasonable to expect fans to travel to two different cities within the span of a week to watch two great games? What about those fans who then decide NOT to go to the Rose Bowl in hopes of holding out for the national championship, only to have the team lose and them not end up going to any bowl game.  Also, with less fans being able to go to both games, the College Football National Championship could just become another Super Bowl where its not fans in the stands, but rather just people who have the money to blow on the extravaganza and for me at least, part of the great thing about college football is the willingness to travel from fans. – DT

A: Boo-hoo. That’s like whining that Kansas basketball fans couldn’t travel to the regional finals and the Final Four. A Plus-one national title game would be part Super Bowl, part Final Four, and if some of the fans not being able to go to both games is the price to be paid for a more legitimate national champion, so be it. And yes, if you believe it might be a once-in-a-lifetime shot to follow a national championship team and see both games live, you go to both. So you’ll be paying off your credit card debt well past your death. You’ll be doing that anyway and at least you’ll have had a great vacation. “I’ve got news for you pal, they’re going to nail us no matter what we do, so we might as well have a good time … to-ga, to-ga, to-ga.”

There's no particular reason to bring this up right now, but why haven't the BCS conferences "blackballed" Notre Dame?  Obviously Notre Dame is not just gonna give up its awesome position as an independent on its own - why would it?  That school is raking in the dough.  My question is this - why don't the BCS conferences simply take Notre Dame off their schedules?  Why not mount one united front to put them on a more even playing ground (at least money earning-wise).  Basically tell the fighting Irish that if they ever want to play a meaningful football game again they have to follow their basketball program's lead and join the Big East (who could use the name brand) (or possibly the Big Ten). – Patrick

A: The rest of the programs don’t really care that much about Notre Dame having its own gig. Everyone loves having Notre Dame on the schedule. It gets the fan base fired up, it brings in the national spotlight, and it’s always good for recruiting. Also, the schedules are made so far in advance that they’re hard to change for a game this big. Irish games are sometimes scheduled several years ahead of time.

I recently read where the NCAA does not currently officially recognize the football national champion in its count of school national championships.  Is this true?  And if so, do you think the majority of sports fans across the nation know this?  Do you think if they do not know this and are currently against a playoff they'd be more inclined to push their commissioners (*cough*Delaney*cough*) towards one? - RB in Denver

A: It doesn’t really matter outside of the greed factor. The conferences don’t want to split any of the bowl dough with the NCAA, and any sort of playoff, like an NCAA basketball tournament, would split up the pie a bit. I don’t think fans care too much about this, but they would probably care if they actually realized how mythical the college football national championship really is. It’s sort of implied idea more than a hard and fast given. Remember, it wasn’t until 1998 when the BCS made the picture a bit more clear, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still room for debate … obviously.

I'm a BYU fan/grad and college football nut.  I work with a couple of other college football fans and they have absolutely no respect for BYU since we're not in a BCS league.  Mentioning our history of a National Championship (albeit a controversial one), a Heisman Trophy, Cotton Bowl victory, and dozens of weeks in the top 25 means nothing.  Now I realize that BYU is no USC, Ohio State, etc. But I think we've definitely been more successful than the average BCS team over the years.  My question for you is what BCS teams do you think are comparable to BYU in terms of accomplishment in the modern college football era?  How would BYU perform in a BCS league?  - Dave

A: Well, yeah, BYU has been more successful than the average BCS team because it doesn’t play in a BCS league. Any time a great non-BCS team can gear up for one or two trophy games, it plays well. It’s the long haul of playing a BCS team after BCS team after BCS team that’s the problem.

The team has certainly fared well against the big league teams over the years, at least outside of the Gary Growton era, but some of the records have been pumped up. That 14-1 1996 team wasn’t quite as good as the record would indicate, and the 2001 team that started out 12-0 was a total fraud (I spent weeks in battles with Cougar fans over that season), but these last two teams under Bronco Mendenhall could’ve finished in the top four of any conference in America outside of the SEC and maybe the Big 12. This year’s team should be even better. How would BYU perform in a BCS league? Under Mendenhall, I’d probably put the Cougars in the Michigan State, Arkansas, UCLA, Maryland category.

I have had quite enough of national media outlets bashing the BCS and pining for a playoff that quite obviously isn't going to happen anytime soon.  It would seem to me that people all over the country spend far too much time and energy bitching about what's wrong with college football. Meanwhile, it's likely the second-most-popular sport in the U.S.  Perhaps it is the general state of our culture, but it seems like all the BCS whining takes away from the numerous positive aspects of college football.  Those FAR outweigh the negatives in my opinion.  Do you think there is too much complaining about the BCS?  Not enough?  Or just the right amount. – MH

A: The problem isn’t necessarily the complaining, it’s the complaining from the wrong people. Those who aren’t really into college football and whine about the lack of a playoff come across as idiots 95% of the time. The complaining needs to keep coming from the coaches like Pete Carroll who have championed a form of playoff or Plus One from the beginning. The big wigs who really do believe in the cause, like the SECers, have to keep up the pressure and the good fight.

Yeah, I’ll agree with you that the system in place is better than most with a gimmicky playoff format, and yeah, the sport is probably No. 2 behind the NFL right now, but the point is that it could be even better without sacrificing what makes it so great. You can preserve the regular season, keep the integrity of the bowl system, and make everyone happier with just one extra game. It’s not asking for the world, and I don’t think a Plus One format is unreasonable by any measure. The powers that be are just lazy.

Why has Oklahoma looked good in the regular season have falter in high profile bowl games: against Boise State and West Virginia comes to mind.  Is it the fault of the coaches or does this rest on Bob Stoops’ head?  Is there a lack of preparation on the team's part in general? - Matt, Malden, MA

A: That’s the million-dollar question for Stoops. The huge losses in the national title games to LSU and USC were simply losses to two better teams, but the effort just wasn’t there in the debacle against the Trojans. Don’t forget that it took every conceivable trick and gimmick for Boise State to pull off the upset, and even though everyone including the coaches warned the OU players of a letdown, they never got the machine running against West Virginia. Yeah, the Mountaineers really were good. Also remember that OU was a killer at home and struggled on the road last season. Sometimes teams just have a weird quirk that it needs to fight through.

When the time comes for Joe Pa to retire, what will happen to Penn State?  Sure, they're a Big Ten school with a rich history, etc.  But, without Joe Pa will they just become the IU or NW of the Big Ten? – SH

A: Or it could go in the exact opposite direction, which is part of the big fight right now. The issue is how the succession happens. The Paterno camp wants to bring in a disciple who keeps all the same traditions going. Penn State is a different animal, and it’s still a success. There are others who think the program needs to start with a completely different mindset and direction that takes a little bit of a turn, but not a total one, from the way Paterno runs things. The recruiting base, the facilities, and stadium, and the support are there to succeed, and there doesn’t need to be a Ron Zook at Florida situation to get to the right guy. It’ll be an interesting soap opera to watch play out.