Knee-jerk OSU fans need a reality check
By Bob Hunter - THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Some frustrated Ohio State football fans are ready to clear house, starting with head coach Jim Tressel.
Jim Tressel has to go. So do Jim Bollman and Jim Heacock, and maybe even Terrelle Pryor.
And Grant Schwartz, for missing that punt block. And Gene Smith, for tolerating Tressel's incessant losing. And Gordon Gee, for setting a losing tone for the entire university. And maybe even me, for not calling for Tressel's head before this.
There. How's that?
A lot of people are angry because Ohio State lost to Southern California. I get it.
They're frustrated the Buckeyes lost a close game to Texas in last season's Fiesta Bowl in the same gut-wrenching way. I get that.
They don't like that OSU has lost six in a row to top-10 teams. Duh. They want to consistently win the biggest games. They want better recruits. They want more undefeated seasons. They want to win more national championships. OK, who doesn't?
Just for the record, Tressel-ball isn't my personal preference. I've always thought if the punt were really the most important play in football, punters would be the highest-paid players in the NFL. I'd rather see a little less game management and a little more flamboyance. I'd like to see a little more emotion on the sidelines, on the practice field and even during news conferences.
If I were named Ohio State's football CEO tomorrow and asked to choose between Tressel and USC's Pete Carroll as my coach, I'd probably go with Carroll. But if I were the football CEO, it wouldn't make any difference. Carroll isn't available.
If Tressel were fired, OSU would face the same decisions that Michigan, Tennessee, Notre Dame and other schools have faced in recent years. Rich Rodriguez Lane Kiffin Charlie Weis pick out the genius who will satisfy all of the above criteria. There are no sure things.
Next is how to fund the $12 million or so owed Tressel on his contract, one that runs through January 2013. A few rich, frustrated OSU alums might kick in a couple grand to send the coach packing, but $12 million? Supporters might want to start circulating petitions for a ballot initiative to build a casino on campus. And a second casino might be needed if they plan to also buy out the contracts of Smith and Gee.
Is Tressel too loyal to his coordinators? Maybe. The offensive line hasn't been good in recent years and Bollman coaches it, so some of the anger directed his way is understandable. But loyalty isn't really a bad thing, is it? Is it that much better to have a coach who makes his assistants pay for the losses? And if he does that and other assistants start leaving, the next complaint is probably going to be the staff's lack of continuity.
The consensus last week seemed to be that USC had better talent and would win easily. I didn't hear from anyone who predicted an Ohio State victory. Now, the word seems to be that the Buckeyes are the better team and should have won. And for those who still suggest that USC is stronger, the argument now is that, well, the Trojans shouldn't be. Tress and his staff should recruit better players.
Some wise heads offer some intelligent suggestions -- maybe Tressel should hire a sharp, play-calling offensive coordinator -- but mostly what I see is unrestrained anger. Ditch a sophomore quarterback who was the nation's No. 1 recruit because he has lost a couple of big games, or even worse, because he put Michael Vick's name on his eye black? Fire a coach whose team has won or shared the past four Big Ten titles because he elected not to kick a field goal and play the field-position game? Sit some of the team's best defensive players, as punishment presumably, because they couldn't stop a running back compared to USC's best-ever on that last drive?
The knee-jerk e-mail world where a lot of people live these days isn't grounded in reality. Multimillion dollar corporations -- and that's what major college football programs are -- aren't run that way.
Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.