Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Impact of the NFL's Kickoff Rule Change

After three NFL seasons of kicking off from the 35-yard line, what has been the impact on touchbacks, returns, field position, scoring and injuries? Also, is this rule responsible for a record number of big comebacks?

Junkie Special: Bowl Winners and Losers

by Russell Levine

With the 32-game bowl season now complete, and LSU having vanquished Ohio State to wear the champion's crown, it's time to add up the postseason's winners and losers,

Winner: SEC

Not only did the SEC capture its second straight BCS title, the league had a 7–2 overall bowl record, the best winning percentage among the six BCS conferences. SEC backers have always felt the BCS system was unfair to their conference, punishing it for playing a tough conference schedule. This year, with LSU becoming the first-ever two-loss national champion, you can put that myth to rest. The good times should keep on rolling. Georgia looks like a potential preseason no. 1, LSU has enough talent to overcome graduations and early entries to the NFL, and Florida returns with the Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback.

Loser: Big Ten

It was another rough bowl campaign for the Big Ten, which sent a pair of teams to BCS games, only to have both beaten handily for a second straight year. The conference continues to fight perception that its teams are slow. Off the field, the Big Ten Network has struggled to find wide distribution on cable TV.

Winner: Michigan

Not all was bad for the Big Ten. The Wolverines pulled the upset of bowl season, sending retiring coach Lloyd Carr out a winner by beating Florida in the Capital One Bowl. Michigan fans also got to see Ohio State lose a national championship for the third time in 365 days (two in football, one in basketball), which is the next-best thing to actually beating the Buckeyes. Rich Rodriguez now takes over and is tasked with modernizing the Michigan program. First priority: Beat out Ohio State and other suitors for über-recruit Terrelle Pryor, a run/pass quarterback from Pennsylvania.

Loser: Rodriguez

If there's one Michigan man who probably didn't enjoy the Ohio State loss to LSU, it was Rodriguez. If he doesn't beat Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, he'll be sure to draw unfavorable comparisons to the man who just did: would-be Michigan coach Les Miles. Plus, there's that not-so-pleasant matter of a lawsuit over the $4 million buyout Rodriguez owes his former school, West Virginia.

Winner: Fresno State

Pat Hill's Fresno State program throttled Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl and heads into 2008 as one of the favorites to capture a BCS at-large berth from outside the automatic-qualifying conferences.

Loser: Hawaii

Sure, Hawaii will feel the financial benefits of having played in the Sugar Bowl for years to come. But the Warriors looked like they didn't belong on the same field with Georgia, as Heisman finalist Colt Brennan was turned into a tackling dummy by the Georgia defense. Worse, the architect of the program's resurgence, June Jones, departed for SMU a week later.

Winner: Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas

Talib, a junior, was considered one of the nation's best cornerbacks despite the Jayhawks' limited national exposure. This year's surprising 12–1 campaign changed all that, and Talib put an exclamation point on an outstanding season by returning an interception for a touchdown against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. His play no doubt influenced his decision to declare for the NFL draft, where he should be among the first defensive backs taken.

Loser: Brennan

Hawaii was so outclassed in the Sugar Bowl -- and Brennan so ineffective against a relentless pass rush -- that the outcome risks recasting his entire career in a negative light. Perhaps Brennan's spectacular career numbers were nothing more than the product of Hawaii's run-and-shoot system and weak opposition. NFL scouts will have the final say in April's draft.

Winner: MWC

Its rival league, the WAC, may have snared coveted BCS at-large bids the last two years, but the Mountain West Conference proved its chops this postseason, going 4–1 for the best winning percentage of any league with at least two bowl teams. BYU toppled UCLA, while Air Force was more than competitive in a 42–36 loss to Cal in the Armed Forces Bowl.

Loser: West Virginia

Wait a second, didn't the Mountaineers just stomp favored Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl? Yes, but they still lost Rodriguez to Michigan in a nasty divorce. Meanwhile, major booster (and Arizona Diamondbacks managing partner) Ken Kendrick has been very public in his criticism of the athletic department's handling of both the Rodriguez departure and the decision to give interim coach Bill Stewart the full-time job in the hours following the bowl win.

Winner: Big 12

The Big 12's strength was questioned all year as Texas struggled, Oklahoma stubbed its toe against Colorado and Texas Tech, and the North Division was paced by a pair of nobodies: Missouri and Kansas. But the conference redeemed itself in bowl season, despite Oklahoma's pratfall against West Virginia in the Fiesta. Missouri stomped the SEC's Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, and Kansas upset Virginia Tech in the Orange.

Loser: ACC

Two seasons after completing an expansion that was supposed to turn it into a super-conference to rival the SEC, the ACC continues to struggle along with the declining fortunes of Miami and Florida State. It was a BCS conference-worst 2–6 in bowl games.

Winners: Plus-one Proponents

All the confusion caused by this chaotic season has the major conference commissioners talking openly about turning the BCS games into a seeded "plus-one" tournament, in effect a four-team playoff. They'll still have to overcome the opposition of the Big Ten, the Pac-10, and the Rose Bowl to make it a reality, however.

Losers: Playoff Proponents

While BCS officials have been candid about exploring a "plus-one" system, those hoping for a more inclusive playoff will remain disappointed. The university presidents remain steadfast in their opposition to any sort of large-scale tournament. To quote Ohio State president Gordon Gee, "Never going to happen."

BlogPoll Ballot

Below is my final ballot in this seaon's BlogPoll, hosted by mgoblog.

Rank Team Delta
1 LSU 3
2 Southern Cal 1
3 Georgia 1
4 West Virginia 8
5 Ohio State --
6 Oklahoma 5
7 Missouri --
8 Kansas --
9 Virginia Tech 3
10 Boston College 1
11 Tennessee 2
12 Texas 12
13 Arizona State 3
14 Illinois --
15 Brigham Young 6
16 Texas Tech 10
17 Michigan 9
18 Florida 9
19 Cincinnati 1
20 Clemson 4
21 Oregon 4
22 Auburn 3
23 Kentucky 3
24 Wake Forest 2
25 Mississippi State 1

Dropped Out:

Wisconsin (No. 15), Hawaii (No. 17), South Florida (No. 20), Boise State (No. 22), Virginia (No. 23).

Rankings that may require further explanation: Oklahoma is too high, but they beat Missouri twice, so I'm kind of boxed in there. To me, LSU/USC/Georgia is pretty much a tossup. Everything below the top 10 is pretty much throwing names at the wall based on vague recollections of how these teams performed in their bowl games.

Also, you should know that I did not even look at my final regular-season ballot when I filled this out, so that accounts for the wild swings by many of the teams.

Portions of this article appeared in Wednesday's New York Sun.

Comments

1
by Barry (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 6:23pm

How is it that you can move Texas Tech up 10 spots and not even put PSU on there given that they beat them in the Alamo Bowl?

2
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 6:37pm

Gee Russell, I don't think Wisconsin is any great shakes but from 15 to out for losing by four to the team you rank as 11th in the country?

And it wasn't like WI was dominated. The difference in total yardage doesn't look that big once you factor in Wisconsin's return yardage and the Badgers had a chance to win having driven to the TN 35 with under a minute left before Donovan threw a silly pass. TN was obviously the better team but WI had their chances.

So again, WISCONSIN ISN'T A GREAT TEAM (for those who think I am "touting" them or some such nonsense). But it seems a rather harsh reaction to what could be described as a "solid loss".

3
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 6:41pm

1: Texas Tech didn't play PSU, they beat Virginia in the Gator Bowl.

4
by DMP (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 6:42pm

I'd say without the Rodriguez hiring, Michigan would've ended up at "draw".

Began the year with two humiliating losses, but managed to fight through a multitude of injuries and win several games they could have just as well lost. The win over Florida leaves UM fans wondering what could have been this year (and the last few) with a healthy team -- and a coaching staff prepared for the specific weaknesses of it's opponent in a big non-conference game.

However the Rodriguez hiring pushes them to winner status (preliminary) going forward, as they immediately got into the running for Vince Young Remix to complement an already loaded recruiting class. There was a perception that the aging Lloyd Carr was leading the UM program into the doldrums, but the reality is Carr and his staff always recruited extremely well, and this next class was no exception. Rodriguez isn't saving UM, he's given the chance to push them over the top. It could be said UM is doing the same for him.

5
by DMP (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 6:46pm

By the way, I just want go ahead and declare my sympathies by noting I'm with BadgerT1000 and Pat on whatever they say. And not just because they are Big Ten, but it helps. Unless I disagree with them. If I disagree with them I'll come up with something different.

6
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 7:06pm

I am more confused by the Clemson over Auburn myself.

SEC Speed forever!!!!

Though Oklahoma would be wise to start recruiting West Virginia more (god what a dumbass comment by the announcers)

7
by TheWedge (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 7:11pm

1:
I'm really glad you posted that and got called out on being wrong, because I was about to post the same thing. (A&M - Tech, what's the difference?)(yes I'm aware there's a difference)

8
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 7:12pm

You know, I've been a Big Ten fan my whole life, but screw them for it's curt dismissal of the desire that I and a lot of other people have for a playoff. I hope the Big Ten loses every bowl game from now until the end of time. If I could cancel the Big Ten Network, I would.

9
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 7:47pm

Perhaps Brennan’s spectacular career numbers were nothing more than the product of Hawaii’s run-and-shoot system and weak opposition.

I don't get this idea: Hawaii's problem in the Sugar Bowl was that its offensive and defensive lines were simply outclassed. Their receivers, in general, weren't, and really, Brennan's only bad throws were bad decisions under heavy pressure.

Now, I can understand if after this game, you say "no way anyone on the O-line or D-line of Hawaii gets drafted, they were the product of weak opposition," sure. But no quarterback could've done anything behind that rush.

10
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 7:51pm

I imagine some are already aware of this, but apparently Comcast and the BTN are actually in serious talks (finally) to get BTN on Comcast.

I thought for sure Charter would be the first big company to sit down and get something done, given they service a lot of the fans of at least two of the better Big Ten basketball teams this year, one being the fanatical Hoosier fan base. Maybe Comcast is getting tired of spending all that money on ads bashing the BTN and realizing that it's not making people sympathetic to their cause (people who have Comcast hate both Comcast and the BTN and really just want to see the stinkin' games).

11
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 7:55pm

Oh, and the other thing I'm amazed about: I can't believe so few people have mentioned that Joe Paterno, after being about 5 or 6 games behind Bobby Bowden, and looking like he'd never catch up (since Florida State was a perennially strong team, and Penn State was looking very poor), is now only one game behind Bowden, and that mass suspension of Florida State carries over to the first three games of next year, as well.

Lots of people have assumed (though I don't think it's true) that Bowden and Paterno aren't retiring because the first person to retire will lose the 'winningest coach' to the other, but I think Bowden just might lose it next year to Paterno regardless.

12
by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 8:00pm

Oregon ahead of Oregon State? Bleh. Same Record, OSU beat Oregon head to head. no justification for that.

13
by pm (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 8:02pm

How did Illinois stay in the same spot? They just got blown out and didn't even once look competitive. They should have moved down considering they were overrated and feasted on a weak conference.

14
by BHW (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 8:18pm

I don't get the Wisconsin drop, either.

I also don't get BYU moving up so much after winning because of flukily blocking a FG after a fourth-string walk-on redshirt freshman QB who had 5 turnovers in his only previous game (against Notre Dame!) managed to drive his team into position to make the winning FG. That was a pretty sorry performance by BYU.

15
by Tiresias (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 8:23pm

Peach Bowl

Auburn 23
Clemson 20

16
by Tiresias (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 8:25pm

And you moved my beloved Tigers down 3 spots after a win. For shame, sir.

17
by citizen jason (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 8:27pm

8: I agree, but from the Pac-10 perspective. I mean, the Rose Bowl is great, but why they are so completely committed to it is beyond me. This is even more true with the rise of USC in the last 5 or 6 years. Going back to the Carson Palmer years, USC has seemed to be one of the best--if not the best--team in the country by the end of the year. (If I'm remembering right, USC lost a few games early with Palmer, but then started steamrolling and crushed someone in a bowl game ...) You never know, of course, but I don't think it's unrealistic to say USC could have won 3 or 4 national championships in the last 6 or 7 years with a playoff system. What's not to like about that?

12: It's hard to say, but I think with a non-Leaf quarterback, Oregon might be better. They looked good in their bowl game, anyway.

Other than that, I'm not sure what to make of the SEC and speed. Michigan didn't look very slow as they were putting up 41 (with 4 turnovers!) while pummeling Florida. On offense, at least ...

18
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 8:38pm

#16

They should be getting use to not being ranked pretty soon....I kid, but are Auburn fans not worried that Tuberville cannot keep a coordinator? Losing Muschamp and Borges in the same offseason kind of stinks. But I am sure seeing the best high school class in Alabama history....and the best player going right now to the school is ranked 15th is fun to see.

Signed,
Bitter Alabama fan

19
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 8:42pm

Here's my final Top 25. I posted this on the other thread, but like Zed in Pulp Fiction, the threads were dead, baby. Hop on.

1. LSU
2. West Virginia
3. Southern Cal
4. Ohio State
5. Georgia
6. Oklahoma
7. Missouri
8. Kansas
9. Tennessee
10. Virginia Tech
11. Michigan
12. Boston College
13. Florida
14. Texas
15. Illinois
16. Auburn
17. Arizona State
18. Cincinnati
19. Clemson
20. BYU
21. Texas Tech
22. Oregon
23. Wisconsin
24. Kentucky
25. Wake Forest

LSU is #1 by a mile, and there's practically no difference between #2 and #5.

Just think what a mess things would be if that wacky "Plus One" bowl was in the mix.

My guess is that Georgia will be 2008's pre-season #1.

20
by Harris (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 8:50pm

#17 Becuase this way USC is either playing for the National Championship or playing a home game against a team that has to travel halfway across the continent and live in a hotel for a week. Why risk a loss by facing, say, Georgia, LSU and WVa instead of taking the multi-million dollar payout to stay home?

21
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 8:50pm

Other than that, I’m not sure what to make of the SEC and speed.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Everyone knew that Ohio State's receivers weren't speed receivers this year, so completely shutting them down deep isn't a huge accomplishment. Wells completely outran one of the LSU defenders on the first touchdown, so obviously, there are plenty of players in the Big Ten who can keep pace with SEC players.

I hate it when people say "SEC speed." It's not speed. In fact, it's actually an insult to the SEC coaches and players, who are very talented, hard-working, and smart, to suggest that the reason they win is because they're somehow 'faster.'

I really do wonder how long it's going to take Columbus to realize that Tressel is a ridiculously good recruiter, which is why Ohio State has been Big Ten champion or co-champion for the past three years, but just not that good of a game-day coach. I've seen him get outcoached by Paterno (2005), Meyer (2007), and Miles (2008) severely in the past three seasons.

22
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 8:56pm

21- I have to disagree. LSU's overall team speed, especially on defense, was blinding. That's not a knock on any of LSU's other attributes.

23
by Will B. (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 9:30pm

21- I have to disagree. LSU’s overall team speed, especially on defense, was blinding. That’s not a knock on any of LSU’s other attributes.

Say what? Blinding speed? Where was that? Wells had 146 yards rushing, and still a good rushing day even if you remove the 65 yarder.

If the biggest display of speed comes in big plays, Ohio State had three of 20+ yards (Wells run 65, Saine catch 44, Boeckman run 21) while LSU had a massive three plays of 20+ yards (Hester run 20, Murphy run 24, Byrd catch 20).

LSU was the better team, but I never saw them being the faster team.

24
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 9:41pm

I have to disagree. LSU’s overall team speed, especially on defense, was blinding.

Where? The corners or safeties? OSU's receivers aren't that good. We knew that already. That's an indictment of OSU, not of the Big Ten.

The linebackers? Defensive line? Neither of those really stood out to me as being "fast." In general they got to Boeckman because he couldn't find anywhere to throw the ball, not because the defensive ends were just running around guys or anything.

The biggest difference between LSU and OSU the other night was that LSU looked far, far better coached. Multiple stupid penalties (the idiot roughing the kicker penalty took the cake)? Being fooled by formations that you most often see in high school? Plus the horrendous playcalling - your receivers clearly aren't fast enough to break free deep from the corners, and you're calling go routes after go routes - sometimes on the same play?

I have no idea what "blinding speed" you're talking about. I certainly didn't see it.

25
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 9:55pm

Goodness, superior speed had little if nothing to do with LSU's victory. Tressel got completely schooled (the first LSU touchdown was a complete embarassment), OSU was entirely undisciplined, giving up 60 yards in personal fouls on LSU's second and third touchdown drives, and getting a field goal blocked. Toss in the fact that OSU's qb is average, and unable to excel when playing with a deficit, and you get the result that occurred. It wasn't because they had a significant speed advantage.

Pat, how big a disadvantage is Penn State facing these days in recruiting? I can only imagine the negative recruiting that is going on when trying to recruit a kid away from an 81 year old head coach. Mind you, and not that it is any of my business, the guy can stay as long as he wants as far as I'm concerned, but I do wonder what Penn State can do to counteract such stuff.

26
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 9:57pm

LSU was the better team, but I never saw them being the faster team.

I disagree. I don't think OSU is slow, but they looked so against LSU. The Tigers reminded me of some of the great Jimmy Johnson coached Miami teams, where they were ridiculously faster than their opponents.

Pat, I was referring more to the LBs and safeties. Faster than a speeding bullet.

27
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 10:01pm

Kevin, if they are so dang fast, how did Wells make them look like they were wearing weight vests?

28
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 10:31pm

because speed and angles are two different things?

Ohio State is fast, LSU is faster.

29
by Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 10:34pm

27 - That long by Wells was set up by LSU going into a 6-3-2 (I think) defense. tOSU's O-line gave Wells a crease, and from that point on he had to dodge like 1 LB tackle and he was homefree. Who exactly was supposed to catch up to him? A D-lineman? One of the safeties who got blocked out of the play?

You may have noticed that LSU never tried a 6 man front again, because with everyone so close to the line of scrimmage no one had a chance to catch Wells once he slipped through.

30
by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 10:52pm

#17, Brady Leaf didn't play a single snap in the civil war.

Roper, the QB who threw 4 TDs and 0 picks against the vaunted South Florida defense was held to fewer yards, a lower completion percentage, fewer TDs, and more INTs.

Jonathon Stewart, who blew up USF for over 11 ypc and a TD was held to 4.2 ypc and kept out of the end zone.

Everyone who played in the blowout of USF was playing in the civil war. The Brady Leaf defense holds no water.

31
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 11:21pm

Pat, I was referring more to the LBs and safeties.

Well, the linebackers certainly weren't significantly faster than OSU's: Laurinaitis was flying all over the place. Unfortunately, he was missing tackles when he got there. It takes a lot of speed to miss tackles as much as he did.

Not really sure what you saw in the safeties, considering they rarely saw any action.

One of the safeties who got blocked out of the play?

Hey, LSU's supposed to be superfaster than OSU. Angles, blocking - these things are for mortal men.

Pat, how big a disadvantage is Penn State facing these days in recruiting? I can only imagine the negative recruiting that is going on when trying to recruit a kid away from an 81 year old head coach. Mind you, and not that it is any of my business, the guy can stay as long as he wants as far as I’m concerned, but I do wonder what Penn State can do to counteract such stuff.

How do you counteract it? By pointing out the staff that Paterno has, who will still be there when he finally leaves (most likely when his health starts failing).

Of course, they haven't done that, and all of the assistant coaches are similarly under contract only through 2008, and so this year especially, I think they're being hurt in recruiting.

It shouldn't really be a big deal. The program at Penn State is much more about tradition and "a way of doing things" than it is about Paterno. Penn State just needs to step up to the ball and actually solidify the post-Paterno plan, and everything would be fine.

32
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 11:29pm

Dave, one of the "lightning fast" safeties was within two yards of him when the footrace began. His lightning was such that he ended up eight yards behind a guy who was carrying a football. Maybe Louisiana lightning is slower than lightning elsewhere.

33
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/09/2008 - 11:35pm

Well, the SEC looked even better than last year (7-2 to 6-3), the Big Ten looked even worse than last year (last year they actually won 2 of 3 bowls against the SEC), two of the teams I hate the most got humiliated (Sooners and Buckeyes) and my mom's alma mater (FAU) became the fastest team to ever reach a bowl game, and won it to boot. From my perspective, this bowl season was a rousing success results-wise. In other ways, not so much. How many years left does Fox have to mangle BCS games?

34
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 12:09am

#33: Speaking of FOX mangling bowl games: why couldn't FOX have thrown money at Howie Long and Terry Bradshaw to get them back in the booth for one of the BCS games?

Hell, if you really want to make fans happy, throw a lot of money at them and get them in the booth for the championship game. They were fantastic last year in the Sugar Bowl, and this year, we get... Thom Brennaman and Charles Davis twice, both of whom were so wretched (Brennaman was about as soporific as you can get, and Davis must've said "I love what [RANDOM COORDINATOR ON A TEAM] is doing here," leaving him with little time to actually say what said coordinator is doing.

Bradshaw called a touchdown before it happened in the Sugar Bowl last year. How often do you hear analysts in the booth correctly predict a play before it happens?

35
by Dennis (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 12:12am

#13 How did Illinois stay in the same spot? They just got blown out and didn’t even once look competitive. They should have moved down considering they were overrated and feasted on a weak conference.

Did you watch the game? They were 3 yards away from pulling within 4 in the third quarter. Yes, they got blown out after that, but to say they were never competitive is just flat out wrong.

36
by Dennis (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 12:15am

The university presidents remain steadfast in their opposition to any sort of large-scale tournament.

I guess you missed the comments from Georgia president Michael Adams:

"I believe the season is already too long and demands too much of athletes and the universities that serve them," Adams said at a news conference. "But this year's experience with the BCS forces me to the conclusion that the current system has lost public confidence and simply does not work."

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3186232

37
by pm (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 12:35am

They were down a lot eaerly on, and just got lucky for a few plays to make it closer than it seemed.

38
by Craig (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 12:59am

That would be four lost national championships in 365 days. They lost the national championship in soccer as well.

39
by houle (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 1:05am

Ohio state has lost not 3 but 4 national championships in the past year.

40
by houle (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 1:08am

Dupe on me

41
by Harris (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 1:33am

Pfft. Everybody knows soccer doesn't count.

42
by Dave (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 1:57am

tOSU also lost the 2007 title game vs. GVSU in club dodgeball. No, I'm not making that up.

43
by Solomon (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 3:34am

#21--Why the hate for Tressel? I am not saying he is an elite game-day coach, but he is much better than for which you give him credit. His teams won close game after close game in 2002 on the way to a national title game (which was close) and in 2003 as well. How was he outcoached by Paterno in 2005? Can you give any specifics? How involved is Paterno in gameday -- does he even wear a headset anymore? So what happened in 2006-2007 in the OSU-PSU games? I will admit OSU was terrible against Florida, and the personal fouls against Louisiana State were inexcusable. OSU was about even yardage-wise w/ LSU and was a couple plays from an even game (dropped TD pass, roughing the kicker penalty). You mentioned something in the game preview thread about Tressel paying players -- was that tongue-in-cheek? If not, do you have any proof of this? John Cooper is a much better example of a great recruiter but poor game-day coach. Tressel is a great recruiter and a decent game-day coach. You do not go 6-1 against talented Michigan teams on talent alone. Tressel is miles ahead of Cooper. Why all the hate for OSU? So it lost a couple of title games -- at least it got there.

44
by perplexed (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 3:43am

I didn't see the winner of the playoffs ranked. Where is Appalachian State on this list?

45
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 10:30am

App State won the D-IAA playoffs. The rankings are for D-IA teams. Although App State is eligible, their overall body of work is not impressive enough for them to be considered a Top 25 team.

46
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 11:25am

Pat:

I don't even know how much changing the announcers would help a FOX college football broadcast when they are so d*mned determined to pimp everything BUT the game DURING the broadcast.

Just in the first half I believe they completely missed three penalties and one play. As in totally missed them as they were off doing something unrelated to the game.

47
by SomeGuy (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 11:42am

Tressel isn't that bad of a game day coach. He consistently outcoaches Lloyd Carr every year in a game each team spends its entire season getting ready for. Of course one can argue that Lloyd has been a downright awful gameday coach for the last few years, so maybe that's not such a ringing endorsement....

48
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 12:31pm

Bradshaw's shtick often obscures the fact that he knows the game really well, and can communicate that knowledge really well. Frankly, strictly from a conveying football knowledge to the viewer perspective, he's wasted as a studio host, and it would be a joy to have him as a full time analyst. Of course, Terry's a pretty smart guy, public perception aside, so he realizes that the studio gig is easier money.

As far as predicting plays, Hank Stram was absolutely the best. It was like hearing a coach break down film, except 10 seconds before the play unfolded.

49
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 12:37pm

Yeah, I'm being hard on Tressell, precisely because it was a very winnable game for OSU, if they had played like they were better prepared. Last year, Tressel has a guy who has a decent chance to be a starting NFL qb, a guy who is already an upper echelon wr in the NFL, and a guy was drafted too high in the first round, but who did run back a kick before getting injured. With all that talent, Tressel's team doesn't even compete.

50
by Nick (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 1:18pm

None of those guys play defense or offensive line though.

And he didn't actually have that kick returner beyond the first kickoff, which is kind of important if you are going to count that kick returners talent against him.

I think it is fair to say Tressel got outcoached against Florida and LSU (and I think I remember the game Pat refers to against PSU as well), but 3 games doesn't exactly make career.

Pat, Tressell is not only a great recruiter but he's also very good at judging and developing talent. He gets the 5* guys and does fine with them, but he also turns 3* guys into All-Americans and first round picks at what seems like a fairly impressive rate. He might not be a great in game coach (though I think he is still pretty good, at least on the offensive side of the ball. I'm not as confident in him as a defensive coach) but as far as college coaches go, the list of guys I'd take over Tressell right now isn't very long.

51
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 2:40pm

#49

That does not make Tressel a bad coach though. Les Miles had a #1 pick at QB, a top 10 pick safety, 2 1st round WRs plus guys like Doucet, Dorsey, Highsmith, Jackson, Steltz, etc. and could not even win the SEC West last season.

52
by nonathletic Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 5:33pm

Nick, I'd say getting spotted 7 points at the beginning of a game is pretty helpful.

Lionsbob, I didn't say he was a bad coach. I said I was pretty hard on him because he failed to get extremely talented teams anywhere close to being ready to play in two consecutive championship games.

53
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 6:00pm

#21–Why the hate for Tressel?

It's not hate. I've just never seen him actually do something clever on the field.

His teams won close game after close game in 2002 on the way to a national title game (which was close) and in 2003 as well.

Coaching isn't about winning close games. Winning close games is luck. Those teams, especially 2002, were ridiculously talented. There's absolutely no way the games should've been close in a lot of those situations. The OSU-PSU game in 2002, for instance, never should've been that close. Penn State had nowhere near the speed at WR that OSU had at CB, and yet Tressel still had them in a deep shell for a good portion of the game, completely negating their speed advantage except for eliminating a bit of extra yards.

How was he outcoached by Paterno in 2005? Can you give any specifics?

Of course I can. Paterno had the secondary in a deep shell, hoping that they wouldn't have enough time to get a receiver free deep, and trusting that the line and the linebackers were solid enough in run support.

Tressel played right into Paterno's hands. After Smith's first pick, he completely abandoned any middle-to-deep passing. He did nothing to try to get the ball into Holmes and Ginn's hands behind the linebackers, which is where they could've done real damage. Instead, he fell back to a much, much more conservative short passing, running game which the Lions could easily (and did easily) control.

Getting outcoached by Meyer and Miles is one thing, but playing right into the hands of Joe Paterno running one of the most conservative offensive gameplans of the entire season - that was just crazy.

How involved is Paterno in gameday — does he even wear a headset anymore?

What does wearing a headset have to do with outcoaching someone? Coaches come up with gameplans before gameday. But to answer that question, he's as involved as he wants to be. In general Hall and Bradley handle things, but when Paterno wants to change something, he does, and they do it. He was actually very involved in that game. It was completely unlike the entire rest of the season, which was primarily Hall (based off of Texas's offense).

You do not go 6-1 against talented Michigan teams on talent alone. Tressel is miles ahead of Cooper.

Saying Tressel is a better game-day coach than Cooper and Lloyd Carr is pretty much the definition of "damning with faint praise."

Okay, he's a decent game-day coach... from the 1990s. Too bad college football's advanced a bit since then.

54
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 6:37pm

Can we stop putting down Tressel and start putting down Bob Stoops yet?

I just want my team to play in BCS bowls right now.

55
by Brooklyn Buckeye (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 6:45pm

RE: #43

Youngstown State had some recruiting violations duing Tressel's tenure as head coach. As I understand it, a wealthy Youngstown businessman hired a lot of YSU students -- including football players -- to work at his area grocery stores. He hired a star football player who never actually did any work but still got some $10,000. NCAA and YSU investigations found Tressel had nothing to do with the violations, but there will always be speculation.

And then there's the Maurice Clarett incident...

Personally, I really like Tressel. My mom went to school with him at B-W and said he was a pretty stand-up guy back then. I'm sure I'm biased, but I just don't think this guy is corrupt like his detractors make him out to be. But hey, Google "Tressel violations" and decide for yourself.

56
by Brooklyn Buckeye (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 7:43pm

RE: #53

Pat, you're usually a pillar of reason, but I think you're absolute nuts when it comes to Tressel. You use ONE game in which Tressel was outcoached by Joe Paterno as evidence that Tressel is an unimpressive coach...yet you dismiss Tressel's victories over Lloyd Carr because Lloyd Carr was "only" successful in the 1990's? Pretty inconsistent logic.

You also damn Tressel for winning close games with talented teams, but laud Les Miles, who lost TWO GAMES this season to vastly inferior teams. Look at the talent on LSU's roster, compare it to the 2002 Buckeyes and tell me that Tressel is not a great game-day coach.

Tressel lost a nail-biter to eventual national champion Texas? According you, that was all luck...so where's the Tressel love?

I don't really care if you love or hate him, to be honest, but I do care (obvious from this rant) that your criteria for what makes a good coach is somewhat inconsistent.

57
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 8:21pm

You use ONE game in which Tressel was outcoached by Joe Paterno

I love JoePa, but getting outcoached by JoePa is really, really bad indictment. Note I say "JoePa," not "Galen Hall" or "Tom Bradley," because that game was clearly Paterno's plan and not theirs (Theirs usually includes passing).

I think that's the last game in which I clearly saw Paterno's old style and it worked.

yet you dismiss Tressel’s victories over Lloyd Carr because Lloyd Carr was “only” successful in the 1990’s?

That's actually not what I meant at all, though I can see how you'd interpret it that way. Carr hasn't changed his coaching philosophies at all since the 1990s (hell, for that matter Paterno hasn't changed his since the 1970s). This isn't really a debatable point, considering it's what Michigan fans have been saying for years. And Tressel can easily beat that game plan.

So that's why I said Tressel would be a great game day coach if this were the 1990s. But unfortunately for him, college football has advanced a bit, and he's not that good a game day coach in the modern college game.

You also damn Tressel for winning close games with talented teams, but laud Les Miles

1) Where did I say Les Miles is a great game-day coach? He has his moments, but man he's made some dumb decisions too. Him, I'm definitely on the fence about.

2) Where did I damn Tressel for winning close games? I just said that winning close games isn't a sign of a great coach. It's not the sign of a bad coach, either. It happens. Big whoop.

3) It also seems like you're looking for a "perfect" gameday coach, and there isn't one. Pete Carroll's pretty freaking good but he's had some coaching idiocies too. Urban Meyer's probably one of the best coaches I've seen in college football, but he frequently gets waaay too cutesy.

I was asked before "why do I hate Tressel" and I'll say it again. I don't hate him. I just have never - not once - seen a game where I've been impressed with the game plan and playcalling that OSU had.

What makes a great coach is a) having your kids show up and play disciplined football for 60 minutes, not doing anything stupid, b) putting together a gameplan that attacks your opponents' weaknesses while pushing your own strengths, c) adapting during the game to what your opponent is doing.

I can't remember ever seeing b) or c) from Tressel. And living in Columbus for a while, I've seen him a lot.

58
by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 9:02pm

It’s not hate. I’ve just never seen him actually do something clever on the field.

What counts as clever? He ran a bunch of successful trick plays with Ted Ginn, including reverses, passes, and direct snaps. He had Craig Krenzel run the ball 19 times for 81 yards and 2 TDs against Miami, making Krenzel one of only four QBs to lead his team in rushing and passing yards in a BCS title game. I'd say that was fairly clever, given that Krenzel wasn't a terribly fast QB.

I'm not saying Tressel is a great game-day coach, but he isn't bad, either. And there aren't many coaches who are better overall. I mean, it'd be great if he could be a ridiculously good recruiter and a playcalling genius, but I don't know of any coach like that. I'd say 1 BCS title, 3 BCS bowl wins, and a 73-16 record over 7 years is about as much as you can expect.

Okay, he’s a decent game-day coach… from the 1990s. Too bad college football’s advanced a bit since then.

Well, he did adopt a spread offense in 2005 that worked pretty well, so it's not like he's completely behind the times.

59
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2008 - 11:18pm

I think I like this Pat guy. In a strictly heterosexual way of course.

I'd forgotten about Bradshaw and Long in last year's title game. Leave iot to Fox to forget about them too. They RAWKED~!

But it's not just the announcing, Fox's production and camera shot decisions (bands, bands, and more bands) were as bad as I've ever seen a football game done in my life.

I'm also on Pat's side in the Tressel Debate. The Suckeyes had a MOTIVATIONAL DVD made for them and still got trounced because when LSU responded after falling behind 10-0 they had NOTHING left. That has to be on Tressel. How hard can it be to coach at tOSU when you only play one real opponent every year? A mannequin could probably coach them through the other 11 games. Tressel's performance against good teams that aren't Michigan is quite frankly abysmal. He'd have even lost the Miami title game if it hadn't been for a penalty called after the game was over. It's not just being outcoached by Paterno, it's being outcoached by RON FREAKING ZOOK this year. ZOOK!!! The same man who never failed to lose 5 games a season in the SEC with the Gators.

60
by Will B. (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2008 - 12:01am

I was asked before “why do I hate Tressel” and I’ll say it again. I don’t hate him. I just have never - not once - seen a game where I’ve been impressed with the game plan and playcalling that OSU had.

How about all the runs that Craig Krenzel did against the Hurricanes? No one expected Krenzel to run as much as he did, and he ran very effectively. I'd also count Holy Buckeye as a great coaching decision that took a lot of balls.

Jim Tressel at Ohio State has had conservative teams (Krenzel era), wide open spread teams (Smith era), and more balanced teams (current era). You won't hear many Ohio State fans complain about Jim Tressel - the guy gets the job done. His teams have played sloppy in bowl games, especially the BCS bowls - some of that could be due to the long layoff the Buckeyes have between the Michigan game and the BCS bowls.

61
by Will B. (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2008 - 12:06am

That has to be on Tressel. How hard can it be to coach at tOSU when you only play one real opponent every year?

You can't really blame Ohio State that the Huskies sucked this year, or that the Big Ten was down. It's not true that their SOS this season is indicative of other seasons. The past two, they've had home & homes with Texas, the next two, home & home with USC, each of the subsequent years with home & homes against Miami (FL), California, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma. Yes, that's correct, there are non-conference games agreed upon until 2017.

62
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2008 - 12:24am

What counts as clever? He ran a bunch of successful trick plays with Ted Ginn, including reverses, passes, and direct snaps.

That's not clever, that's gimmicky - clever is varying formations and route patterns to selectively open up players rather than relying on fooling your opponent (which will only work if the opponent isn't disciplined) and executing an odd play that has the potential to violently backfire.

He had Craig Krenzel run the ball 19 times for 81 yards and 2 TDs against Miami

I thought most of that was Krenzel seeing an open field and taking off - I didn't think that was intentional. Fair point if it was, it's been a long time since that game.

Well, he did adopt a spread offense in 2005 that worked pretty well, so it’s not like he’s completely behind the times.

Remember he didn't want to that year, though. Zwick was forced to start the first game because Smith was out, but Tressel still started with Zwick in the Texas game.

Fair point, though, although throwing a couple of WR screens and 3 and 4 receiver sets isn't exactly that impressive nowadays.

It's also fair to say that I don't think Tressel's a terrible strategic coach, either. I've never seen him make John L. Smith level mistakes (or Mike Martz mistakes, to credit the original award's name). Where he's really bad is gameplanning, in game adjustments, and keeping kids under control.

63
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2008 - 12:25am

His teams have played sloppy in bowl games, especially the BCS bowls - some of that could be due to the long layoff the Buckeyes have between the Michigan game and the BCS bowls.

Man, you're right! I wonder whose responsibility it is to keep the players in game shape and ready for a bowl game over that long layoff...

64
by Solomon (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2008 - 2:51am

Maybe this was too long ago to "count", but Tressel did win 4 I-AA national titles at Youngstown State. I suspect that was not entirely because of his recruiting acumen to the hotbed of Youngstown.

65
by Will B. (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2008 - 4:09am

Man, you’re right! I wonder whose responsibility it is to keep the players in game shape and ready for a bowl game over that long layoff…

Of course it's his responsibility, but these are kids going through finals, winter break, thanksgiving, etc. All schools have these challenges, but few have a longer layoff than Ohio State & Michigan. Heck, the SEC champs play twice more after OSU/UM.

No worries, I know it's an argument that can't be won since it's a matter of opinion. When Ohio State beats USC next year on the road, it will be because USC had a new starting QB, and Tressel was lucky. And when USC wins in 2009 in Columbus, it will be that Carroll totally outcoached Tressel.

66
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2008 - 6:04am

WillB, the Big Ten was down last year, and will probably be down again next year. Seriously, when their second BCS team is coached by RON ZOOK there's a problem.

Also, it's the Big ten's own damn fault for the 40-day layoff since they're the only 1A conference that refuses to play games after Thanksgiving (one of those stupid "traditions" I keep hearing about these days). If you're going to be part of the BCS and play in its title game you simply can't use that as an excuse, ever.

Hopefully, the slate of nonconference opponents will be enough to keep them out of any more title games in the near future, although with just one win in any year until 2017 it's likely they'll be back seeing as the rest of the Big Ten sure doesn't put up too much resistance.

67
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2008 - 10:20am

66- When Illinois hired Zook, I thought it was a terrible move.

Three years later, I admit Zook proved me wrong. He brought UI to the Rose Bowl, and a team largely recruited by him won a national title.

Zook reminds me of Pete Carroll- not only do they look alike, but they both were extremely successful after failing in impossible situations (Zook following Spurrier, Carroll following Parcells).

68
by stan (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2008 - 1:16pm

The average SEC LB is faster and quicker than the average Big Ten LB. Same for defensive linemen.

Ask the pro scouts.

69
by Brooklyn Buckeye (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2008 - 5:11pm

My closing statements...

Tressel -- Really only two blemishes on his record, the 2007 and 2008 BCS championship games. Big blemishes and yes, the failure to keep his boys motivated thru the long layoff is HIS responsibility. Still, he has five national championships to his record, one of which is BCS. His Buckeyes have shown up and played competitively in HUGE regular season AND bowl games against Michigan, Texas, Miami and ND. Let's be consistent in our assessments of great teams and coaches...one terrible performance and one sub-par performance in seven years of coaching tOSU should be put in perspective with all the exceptional performances.

He's repeatedly mixed up his conservative coaching style in big games...sometimes successful, sometimes not. He'll need to exorcise his SEC demons and win another national championship before his career is over to solidify his national reputation, but there is NO ARGUMENT that Tressel is among the elite NCAA FB coaches, perhaps just half a step down from Pete Carroll and on par with anybody else, including Miles, Meyer, Carr (yeah, I said "Carr), etc. His career -- like anybody else's -- has room for criticism, but if you say Tressell's anything but a top-tier coach, you're just flat-out wrong.

BUCKEYES ARE THE NEW BILLS!

70
by Mike Risley (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2008 - 6:55pm

68- Since I don't know any NFL scouts, does anyone have stats on what percentage of NFL linebackers( or other positions) played in each conference? And has this changed much over time?

71
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2008 - 10:34pm

A couple of observations:

Tressel has lost 5 games the past 3 years: 2 Big Ten games and 3 games to the past 3 BCS champions. The Big Ten losses were to Illinois in 2007 and Penn State in 2005. All 5 of those losses were to BCS bowl teams. I don't think there's a whole lot of shame in that. OSU generally beats the teams they should beat and loses to teams that are better. Criticism of how they performed in some of those games is valid (particularly the Florida debacle), but they weren't exactly facing horseshit teams. Over a three year span even great coaches will get outcoached.

SEC speed: I thought Ohio State was fine in the team speed department. I would guess that should we run 40's with every LSU scholarship player and every OSU scholarship player that LSU would come out slightly faster, but I don't think that was the difference in the game. LSU has better football players and the better team.

72
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 01/12/2008 - 12:29am

Isn't SEC speed a joke, like people just say it to piss off fans of other schools?

and please do a signing day special so I can discuss in detail why Alabama is going to be in a BCS bowl in 3 years.

73
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Sat, 01/12/2008 - 7:06pm

#71: It's the extent to which the Buckeyes have been outplayed in the last two title games that have pretty much everyone convinced they should no longer be allowed into another one. If they'd lost the two games by, say, a total of 8 points or so (the point total of LSU's two losses this season) then it would be a completely different story and they'd just be a hard-luck team who came up a little short twice.

#72: "SEC speed" was a concept perpetuated entirely by the media, which is now laughably attempting to debunk the very "myth" it started in the first place. The media loves to do this sort of thing all the time, which is why I simply cannot take the media seriously and refer to them as "mediots".

74
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sat, 01/12/2008 - 7:20pm

73- "They" certainly won't be, as the 2007 Ohio State Buckeyes have played their last game. Ditto the 2006 Buckeyes.

Like every other team, the 2008 Ohio State Buckeyes will start with a clean slate.