5 (plus a few) Thoughts - 2009 Fiesta Bowl
Texas QB Colt McCoy
Texas QB Colt McCoy
Posted Jan 6, 2009

It was one of the best games of the season with a finish for the ages. Now what happens to the national title picture? Where does this Ohio State senior class rank? How was Jim Tressel's coaching job? These views and a few thoughts from the readers in the 5 (plus a few more) Thoughts on the great Texas win over OSU in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.

2009 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

Texas 24 ... Ohio State 21

GAME RECAP: Texas & McCoy pull off a classic 
- Fiu's Quarter-by-Quarter, Play-by-Play Game Notes
- 2009 CFN Fiesta Bowl Preview | 2008 Bowl Preview

1. So now what happens to the national title discussion? Did Texas show enough to prove to the world that it really should've been in Miami instead of Oklahoma (or Texas Tech, or Utah, or USC, or Penn State, or Boise State)? Not really, but that's not necessarily the point. The winner of the Florida - Oklahoma game will be the 2008 National Champion. Period. That's it. However, that's not necessarily it in the court of public opinion, and on the message boards. If Oklahoma wins, then no matter what, Texas fans will always have an empty feeling that won't ever go away (just ask fans of 2004 Auburn or 2003 USC about how much it sucks to not get a shot). The hole won't be filled even if the AP decides to vote the Horns No. 1. However, if Florida wins, the debate is over. Texas needed to blast Ohio State to prove that it had a real beef in the overall argument, but if the Gators can get by the Sooners, then it can all be tied up in a nice, neat bow with Florida finishing No. 1, Texas No. 2 or No. 3, Utah No. 2 or No. 3, and then Oklahoma and USC (or the other way around) to finish up the top five. Texas fans, if you want your pain to be eased, at least as much as it can be, then root hard for the Gators because then your boys might finish ahead of OU in the final rankings. It might not be a playoff, but at least there will be closure. If OU wins, then let the message board fun continue. - Pete Fiutak

If you like Florida to win on Thursday night, you’re going to have plenty of company. Guilt by association isn’t always fair, but don’t be shocked if people start questioning Oklahoma over the next 72 hours based on the play of the other Big 12 South teams this bowl season. Fair? Who knows, but sometimes perception is reality. And right now, the perception is growing that the Big 12 may have been overhyped this fall. Oregon blows past Oklahoma State in the second half of the Holiday Bowl. Texas Tech can’t keep up with Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl. Even Texas’ pulsating win over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl fell short of expectations in many people’s minds. The Big 12 needed the ‘Horns to dispose of the Buckeyes much the way USC did way back in September. It didn’t happen. If not for the heroics of Colt McCoy and Quan Cosby, three of the South’s ranked teams would have imploded. None played up to the oddsmakers’ measuring stick, which will have the public opinion pendulum swinging further in the direction of Gainesville as we get closer to kickoff. - Richard Cirminiello            

3. What did James Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins, and the 23 other Ohio State seniors do to earn this fate? Buckeye fans, at least you still have the 2002 national title in your memory bank to fall back on. The OSU seniors, the ones who actually played on the field, will have to live the rest of their lives with a ridiculously unfair check mark next to their careers, sort of like the Buffalo Bills that lost four straight Super Bowls.

"Oh sure, they had great careers, but ...."

There will always be a stigma overshadowing the special accomplishments that otherwise should be lauded. After getting blasted in the last two national title games, and dealing with the embarrassment that followed, the defense was one stop away from all but closing things out with a brilliant statement that would've all but forgiven the other big January losses. Instead, the Buckeyes got their hearts ripped out knowing they were just two minutes, and a few inches on a key fourth down play, from finishing off one of the greatest eras in school history.

Over the last four years, Ohio State has gone 43-8 with four straight trips to the BCS. Two of the losses were in national championships (which is far more forgivable than this group ever got credit for), one was to a Texas team that probably belonged in the national championship, one was to a USC team that would probably win the national championship if there was some sort of a playoff, one was to a Penn State team that won the Big Ten title and played in the Rose Bowl, one was to an Illinois team that played in the 2008 Rose Bowl, one was to a 2005 Penn State team that went 11-1, won the Big Ten title, and won the Orange Bowl, and the other was to the Vince Young-led 2005 national champion Texas team. The eight losses came to teams teams that went a combined 93-12 (that's an 89% winning percentage) and finished their seasons in the BCS. Let that sink in for a moment. In the end, this year's Ohio State senior class didn't lose to a dud team, had big wins over Notre Dame in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, at Texas in 2006, and beat Michigan four straight times (five straight if you count a redshirt year of 2004) including the 2006 powerhouse. This will be remembered as an extremely great group that showed tremendous resiliency, but it simply wasn't good enough to be at the top of the mountain. However, these seniors came very, very close.
- Pete Fiutak

Texas WR Quan Cosby might have just delivered the single best individual effort of the 2008 bowl season, catching 14 passes for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner with 16 seconds left. On a night when Colt McCoy was not at his all-time sharpest, despite the tremendous numbers, Cosby helped out his quarterback by constantly finding the soft spot in the Ohio State defense and picking up a ton of yards after the catch. While not the most physically imposing receiver in the country, or even the Big 12, he does so many of the little things well, from route running to ball skills, which should open up the door to a shot in the NFL. - Richard Cirminiello

This game had enough plot twists, brain cramps, and brilliant plays to last the whole offseason, but since this is just "5 Thoughts" and not "100 Thoughts," here's the one angle worth taking in the immediate aftermath of an entertaining but sloppy slugfest:
Jim Tressel, one would like to think, can rest easy, even in defeat.
The quarterback rotation involving Todd Boeckman and Terrelle Pryor--a move lambasted by many (but not here)--proved to be a great decision that married multiple needs for the Buckeyes. The system not only allowed Boeckman, a senior, to have one more big-game experience; it kept Pryor fresh and offered the Bucks a credible home-run threat on pass plays. The pieces actually fit together, proving that Mister Sweater Vest--unfairly buried by the media and fans alike after recent big-game losses to Florida, LSU and USC--knows what he's doing.
Yeah, imagine that--Jim Tressel can coach. Far too many people in this country have been quick to assail him for being anything less than No. 1 in America.
The reason why the Bucks lost this game was that OSU players committed situational breakdowns, breakdowns not attributable to anything Tressel or the Buckeye coaching staff could take credit for. A solid first-half performance showed that Ohio State was given a great game plan by its coach. The adjustments to Beanie Wells' second-half injury revealed a staff that knew how to change up on offense.
Some might be tempted to say that Tressel hasn't coached Pryor all that well. The inds of mistakes Pryor made had nothing to do with coaching. Stepping out of bounds short of the marker? How can that be attributed to coaching? If Pryor is still doing that kind of thing next season, okay--that would be a failure on the part of Mister Sweater Vest. But in a freshman season? I'm sure a part of Tressel couldn't believe what he was seeing when Pryor--a truly AWESOME athlete in the fullest sense--bailed out prematurely on a number of plays. Shocking lapses from players in the heat of battle can't--and shouldn't--be laid at Tressel's feet.
His team might have lost three times, but it's clear that Tressel had a quarterback whose physical gifts have not quite been accompanied by a mature mind.
If Tressel makes Pryor a smarter football player--and the smart money says he should--in 2009, Ohio State will become a dominant offensive team and roll to a Big Ten title.

A Few Thoughts From The Readers ...

What was Ohio State thinking with leaving 2 minutes left on the clock and scoring that touchdown??? Is there no better time than that at that moment for the RB to dive on the ball after he gets the first down, force Texas to burn its final 2 TO, and then kick the field goal to take the lead by 1 with almost no time left? How is this not a preferable approach to taking the TD with 2 minutes left and letting a legendary Colt McCoy led offense take the field to try and take the game? - Paul R.

With what possible logic did Jim Tressel use to go for two after the last Ohio State touchdown? It was 21-17. Even if it works, it's 23-17 with less than two minutes to play. What he hoping for the possibility of Texas scoring a touchdown but missing the extra point? If OSU kicks the extra point, then it would've had a shot to win the game with a field goal. Of course, that didn't turn out to happen, but what if the Buckeyes lost in overtime because of this gaffe? Just because Colt came up with that great final drive, that shouldn't forgive this phenomenally boneheaded move. - Victor J.

I love college football, I like the game so much, I would watch San Jose State vs. Hawaii. BUT  it is bad enough we have to wait for the BCS Championship game and the Fiesta Bowl and on top of that the games are played too late for us East Coast people. Like I said I love CFB, but I'm not going to stay awake all night during the week when I have a mortgage to pay and a job to get up and go to. Along with a playoff system, how about we get some reasonable game times. Matter of fact I liked it the old way when all the games were played at once on Jan 1 and get the thing over with. - Mark