As the college football season has now drawn to a close, and my own personal distaste for the “Tim Tebow is the best Qb and human being ever!!” bandwagon now will go dormant at least for six months, now is the time for the other 118 programs in Division 1A to take stock, wrap up their recruiting, and gear up for spring ball and beyond in 2009.
And that got me to thinking about something I heard at the tail end of last night’s BCS Championship tilt: the Fox guys were talking about Bob Stoops and his now well-documented struggles in BCS games. Given the general fan base of this blog, it caused me to compare that with the recent BCS struggles of Jim Tressel’s Ohio State Buckeyes as well.
By the numbers, there are two of the top programs of this decade in NCAA football, and both have done well against their biggest rivals, going a combined 13-5 against Texas and Michigan. Since Stoops’ and Tressel’s 1999 and 2001 hires, respectively:
Stoops – 10 seasons (109-24, 6-4 vs. Texas)
5 conference titles (6 conf. title games)
7 BCS bowl games (2-5)
4 national championship games (1-3)
1 National Championship (2000)
Tressel – 8 seasons (83-19, 7-1 vs. Michigan)
5 conference titles (shared in 2002, 2005, 2008)
6 BCS bowl games (3-3)
3 national championship games (1-2)
1 National Championship (2002)
If your favorite school/team were looking to hire a new coach, and you looked at those numbers as a coach’s total resume (21 seasons; 8-10 conference titles; 13 BCS bowl games, seven of which were for a national championship; and two national championships), you would jump at the chance, right?
So why, then, are there schools of thought that suggest that Stoops and Tressel are holding their teams back? Bob Stoops is on a 1-5 bowl streak, and those five losses are ALL BCS games (including three straight national championship losses). Someone more clever than I compared him to Marty Schottenheimer, which is simultaneously a great compliment and a perceived slight all at once. There’s a running joke I found all over the Internet: “What do ganja and Bob Stoops have in common? They both get smoked in bowls.” His one-time moniker of Big Game Bob is skating on thin ice.
After OSU’s loss to USC, the forum at Bucknuts.com had a familiar ring: “I’ve had enough of Tressel,” followed up by a reply: “I knew we would get one of these threads sooner or later.” Tressel has lost three straight bowl games, being embarrassed in two of them (both national championship games), and some have said that his coaching (both he and his staff) has not helped matters.
Granted, my team of choice is currently suffering through its worst year ever, but I have to ask… what gives? This question for me is two-fold:
1) Is “getting there” enough, or do the fans of these schools view coming in second as failure? Vince Lombardi once famously said, “If winning isn’t the only thing, why do they keep score?” As fans of OSU, would you rather go to one national title game maybe every 15 years and win it, or go to three in six years and lose two of them in rather humiliating fashion? Are you frustrated with losing BCS games, when the real alternative for the majority of the other teams in the country is not going to BCS games at all? Are the standards that much higher?
2) More to the meat of the issue, did these two coaches spoil their fanbases by both winning a national title in their second year at their respective schools, thus contributing to the magnification of future NC game failures? As OSU fans, did Tressel pulling off what might be one of the biggest upsets in college football history in 2002—and then following that up with 3 consecutive bowl wins, including two more Fiesta Bowls—set the bar so high for Tressel? Stoops’ Oklahoma team in 2000 came from relative obscurity in to win a national title, followed that up with wins in the Cotton Bowl and Rose Bowl after the 2001 and 2002 seasons, and has since then been a juggernaut in the Big 12, making (and losing) five additional BCS games.
While it might seem a bit crazy from the outside to want to push resumes like these out the door, I find myself wondering how Florida State fans feel about Bobby Bowden, since the 1990s allowed him to create his own terms of employment at Florida State. Apparently, some are none too pleased.
What do you think, OSU fans? Will there ever be a time when Tressel wears out his welcome with you? To carry the Schottenheimer comparison a little further, is there ever a time in your imaginations that might necessitate a Schottenheimer-14-and-2-firing? Would you rather be pre-emptive at some point than have OSU’s program become Florida State’s?