There’s a reason that Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, Jim Bollman, has never been on the CBS show Survivor.
It’s simple; it wouldn’t be fair—he’d be the Survivor every season. He’d somehow manage to lose every challenge along the way, but would be sitting there at the end.
Jim Bollman has received a massive amount of criticism as an offensive coordinator. As a coordinator, your job is points. High scoring for an offensive coordinator = good. Low scoring for an offensive coordinator = bad.
The 2008 season was really a banner year for the Bollman haters, who got to witness three games without offensive touchdowns, including one against Purdue, while other high profile teams like Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida were trying to keep scoring under 50 points.
The Case Against Bollman as an Offensive Coordinator
In addition to the basic pass patterns and off tackle runs, Bollman also refused to play Terrelle Pryor in the close game against Ohio.
Dropped balls by receivers and running backs getting hit in the backfield plagued the offense.
A senior laden team shouldn’t freeze up on red zone appearances, and often appeared they weren’t even going for the end zone.
4. Inability to Adjust
It’s okay when the I-Formation runs aren’t working, but it’s not okay to run the same ineffective plays for four quarters.
Some of the struggle can be attributed to the loss of Beanie Wells and the insertion of Terrelle Pryor as the starting QB, but there are little things that seem to irk even the most rational fans.
That said, it’s doubtful that Pryor would have led the Big Ten in passing efficiency or had the TD:INT ratio had he played under an offense that required him to throw 25 times per game.
It seems most complaints are legitimately based on the conservative nature of the playcalling, something that may not change under Tressel.
Where Bollman really deserves the heat he’s getting is from the play of the offensive line. The lack of production on offense could be directly contributed to the play of the offensive line in 2008. The offensive line was the reason Terrelle Pryor won the starting job from Todd Boeckman.
The Case Against Bollman as an Offensive Line Coach
Something wasn’t right when Ohio and Purdue were blowing the Ohio State offensive line off the ball. Players continually missed blocking assignments and didn’t play through the whistle.
2. Realization of Talent
It’s not like Ohio State hasn’t recruited highly ranked lineman, but their hype never matched production. Alex Boone, Kyle Mitchum, Connor Smith? Lines with less have done more.
It’s not easy blocking in the trenches, but injuries have decimated the offensive line for years. Since OSU strutted out a two deep line at Texas in 2006, there’s barely been enough linemen in case of injury to a starter.
4. Physical Shape
6’ 6”, 300lb, guys aren’t skill position finesse players, but few would consider the recent lines to be in peak condition. At first the line couldn’t handle the speed of the Florida pass rush, then they couldn’t handle Purdue’s rush?
In the Jersey Scrimmage this past weekend, the offensive line gave up 13 sacks, including seven by RS Sophomore Solomon Thomas.
While it should be noted that the majority of the sacks were of the "touch" variety, it still means that a kid who hasn’t seen the field and is rarely mentioned in practice, wreaked havoc on the two potential starters at left tackle, Miller and Adams.
Once play went live and Pryor was able to scramble, the sacks decreased considerably, but wasn’t that the M.O. all last year?
It’s only spring and maybe we don’t have to raise red flags, but if Navy comes out in September and manhandles the front five, Bollman may have some explaining to do.
So it begs the question; how does he still have a job?
Well first, he’s employed by The Ohio State University, which is not historically known for blowing through coaches (heads or coordinators) and he hasn’t taken a job (or been offered, as far as we know) as a head coach somewhere else.
Secondly, how do you argue with the Buckeyes record over the past few years? The last loss to a non-BCS bowl bound team was late 2004. That’s four years of not pulling a USC and blowing it against inferior teams.
It’s hard to pin it all on one guy, but heads have rolled at other prestigious universities for less.
Alas, whenever you’re feeling nervous about the offensive line, just think to yourself: “Hey, at least we’re not Michigan.”