Jim Tressel's Ohio State Legacy Will Be As a Winner, Though It's Rarely Flashy

Tim Bielik@bielik_timSenior Analyst INovember 21, 2009

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 21: Head coach Jim Tressel of the Ohio State Buckeyes walks the sideline next to Terrelle Pryor #2 while playing the Michigan Wolverines on November 21, 2009 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ohio State won the game 21-10. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Ohio State Buckeyes once again beat their arch rivals from Michigan 21-10, in a classic example of how the Buckeyes have played in the Jim Tressel era.

The game was won by the Buckeyes controlling the ground game, special teams, and creating turnovers.

And regardless of what people think about Jim Tressel, one cannot deny his track record with now seven BCS games in nine years as a coach.

In addition, the team has won or shared five straight Big Ten titles, something that has to be recognized regardless of the strength of the conference.

There is no doubt Tresselball is not pretty by any stretch, but it just wins.

He has been able to take teams that have lost a lot of talent and just reload and plug the next guys in without losing too much of a step.

And most importantly to Buckeye fans, he has beaten Michigan.

In his nine years at the helm in Columbus, Tressel has beaten the Wolverines eight times, including the last six in a row, something not even Woody Hayes could ever do.

So where does he rank among the greatest coaches in Big Ten history?

At this point, Tressel belongs in the top five of coaches in the Big Ten and one of the best coaches in the country right now.

He has been the target of a lot of criticism for years for having a bland offensive game, with slug-it-out running and overvaluing punts.

And in an era where offenses are more explosive than ever in recent memory, those cries are becoming much louder by the day.

But Saturday was a perfect example of why Tressel is not planning to change his philosophy anytime soon.

Michigan's spread offense moved the ball at times and played fairly well, but turned it over five times against a ball-hungry Ohio State defense that leads the country in interceptions.

Ohio State's running attack didn't look pretty at first, but over time started to gain big chunks of the field, with three rushers, Dan Herron, Brandon Saine, and Terrelle Pryor, all going over 70 yards rushing.

The sweater-vest might not have the most style points of any coach in the country, but he has clearly developed a winning formula: play smart, minimize mistakes, and win the battle up front.

With the Buckeyes' defensive front in 2009, winning the battles up front have been much easier, not allowing opponents to run wild on the Silver Bullets defense.

And that formula has started to rub off on Pryor, as he only has two turnovers since the loss in Purdue, and has even made better decisions running the football.

While the new blood has gotten better and the game has changed, Tressel's formula has stayed consistent, adding a few wrinkles every now and then.

And with the type of talent Tressel continues to bring in after several straight recruiting classes, expect the Buckeyes' dominance over the Big Ten to continue as long as he is in place.

Clearly no Ohio State coach will have more lore and pageantry about him in the history of the program than the great Woody Hayes.

But don't be surprised if a statue of Jim Tressel is erected near Ohio Stadium after his retirement.

He has done more for this program as a coach and a person than most people around Columbus will realize until he is gone.

Nothing about the man screams flashy, light up the scoreboard football.

But he knows the one true law of football: winning is everything, and nothing else matters.