When I wrote the editorial "Quit Bashing Ohio State! Four Reasons to Believe in Jim Tressel, Buckeyes," I got mostly grief for it. Well, I stand by my comments.
Do any of you stand by your trashing Ohio State the past year? Or this talk about how Ohio State needs to be banned from the national title game? Or how the SEC is overrated because they have "only" been beating Ohio State in the national title game? Please.
A lot of the same people that have been trashing Ohio State the past two years are now mapping a path for USC to get into the national title game. It is disgusting and unfair.
Look, people. Ohio State and USC have practically the same record since 2005. In 2005, USC had one loss and Ohio State had two. Both of them had last minute losses to Texas.
Ohio State had a very close loss (the game turned on one play) to a one-loss Penn State team that probably would have beaten USC, and Ohio State then went on to blow out the Notre Dame team that USC needed luck and accommodating officials (and questionable Charlie Weis game managing in the fourth quarter) in a bowl game.
In 2006, USC lost to No. 24 Oregon State and unranked 6-6 UCLA. Meanwhile, Ohio State lost only to No. 1 Florida. In 2007, an Ohio State team that was supposed to be REBUILDING lost only to No. 1 LSU and No. 15 Illinois. Meanwhile, USC lost to Oregon and STANFORD.
Add it all up, and all Ohio State has been doing is losing to teams that they were supposed to: teams that probably—and in USC's case, definitely—had superior talent, especially at the critical positions.
The only time that Ohio State has been upset in the 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 seasons was against No. 15 Illinois, a team with which it matches up poorly. Illinois is constructed like an SEC or particularly Big 12 team rather than a Big Ten one.
The only things holding Illinois back are 1) Juice Williams' inability to throw the ball consistently, and 2) Ron Zook's refusal to relinquish control of his defense. Where the former will no longer be a problem after next season, the latter was what got Zook fired at Florida.
While the Illinois game was an upset, it definitely was not a bad loss.
Meanwhile, USC, with its boatload of five-star recruits, high school All-Americans, and future NFL starters, loses (or is severely tested by) teams stocked with far lesser athletes that are struggling for bowl eligibility.
It is not just the losses to Oregon State teams that have been blown out by Penn State, Boise, and Cincinnati. It was the two close calls to Washington, both of which involved questionable late officiating decisions that benefited USC. It was the fact that the loss to Stanford in 2007 came after Stanford was up 21-3 at halftime a few years ago.
It was how they didn't pull away from 3-8 Arizona in 2005 until five minutes remained in the fourth quarter in 2005, and their needing a monster game from Reggie Bush to pull away from 8-4 mid-major Fresno State that same year.
Now Georgia beats their first two opponents 45-21 and 56-17 and drops from No. 1 to No. 3 in the polls. But when USC labored to beat Fresno, the media talked about how good FRESNO was! Some national magazines actually claimed that in the good old pre-BCS days, Fresno State would have gone to the Orange or Sugar Bowl.
This really does have to stop. Ohio State's Jim Tressel deserves CREDIT for winning all these games the past few years with offensive skill players that USC wouldn't give a second look at.
Troy Smith was an undersized troublemaker who couldn't throw the ball in high school and received only a few scholarship offers from major schools—who wanted him as a backup DB or WR—and Tressel's system turns the guy into a record-setting Heisman Trophy-winning QB.
Last season, coaching a new (and pedestrian) QB Todd Boeckman and a bunch of yeomen WRs (Brian Hartline, Terry Robiskie, and Brian Small are NOT first round draft picks, unlike Ted Ginn Jr., Santonio Holmes, and Anthony Gonzalez, who played with Troy Smith), the guy goes 11-1 and makes the BCS title game.
Who was Ohio State's starting TB with Troy Smith, including in the 2006 title game? Antonio Pittman, who was cut by the team that drafted him and now is like fourth string for the Rams.
Yet it is Tressel that gets trashed.
Meanwhile, Pete Carroll has not only five-star recruits, but in many cases the consensus top recruit in America at his position or overall—guys like Ronald Johnson, Mark Sanchez (and John David Booty before him), Vidal Hazelton, David Ausberry, Stafon Johnson, etc., etc., etc.
How on earth does USC have 10 high school All-American tailbacks and get held to 10 points by a UCLA defense that FSU ran up and down the field on in the very next game? How does USC get shut out in the first half by a team that Penn State was leading 35-0 at halftime?
How does Jacquizz Rodgers rush for 186 yards against "Pete Carroll's best-ever defense" WHEN STANFORD HELD HIM TO 54?
How come Pete Carroll is never asked these questions? Is it because they beat 10-3 Michigan in the Rose Bowl in 2003 to give him one more national title than Tressel has?
Well, let me tell you—had the media not been so smitten with that 2003 USC team (which by the way, not only lost to but was thoroughly outplayed by an 8-6 Cal team that hadn't even settled on a starting QB at the time—Aaron Rodgers was sharing time with Reggie Robertson) that they saw fit to award them a national title over a team that had more wins and against a tougher schedule (you can argue with me but not the BCS formula, which judged both LSU and Oklahoma to have played a tougher schedule) that they awarded Carroll and USC an AP title, then there would be nothing that Tressel has that Carroll lacks.
Even Carroll's seven Pac-10 titles, Tressel's mastery of the Big Ten has been similar, and this is with Tressel having to face another elite program in his conference in Michigan.
Yet where Carroll's domination of the Pac-10 is proof of his and USC's brilliance, Tressel doing the same to his conference (which not only includes Michigan but also a Penn State team that is very good when they run an offense that fits their talent, and a Wisconsin team that not long ago was hammering the Pac-10 champions in Rose Bowls) is evidence that the Big Ten is the worst conference in college football and whose champion should be banned from the title game even if they are undefeated and everyone else has a loss.
I really don't blame the media for this. The media is always going to be biased towards 1) West Coast schools, 2) private schools, and 3) schools that feature the passing game.
No, this is on the fans who just accept this "USC is obviously the best team in college football, even when they play like dirt and especially when they lose" nonsense, and who accuse anyone who challenges them of being biased and not giving USC enough credit, especially if it is an SEC fan.
This is not to be mistaken as so much of a defense of Tressel. I found Tressel's benching of the five-year senior who took his team to the Big Ten title and the championship game last season for a true freshman who put the whole college football world through a self-serving dog and pony show during the recruitment process disgusting.
Yes, Boeckman needed a strong running game to be able to effectively run his offense. If Tressel wanted something different, he should change his offense so that he can recruit different QBs (remember, Brady Quinn chose Notre Dame over Ohio State almost solely because of Tyrone Willingham's pro style offense).
Better yet, he should have got on the phone and recruited Jacquizz Rodgers, who appears to have chosen Oregon State over powerhouses Arizona, Baylor, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, SMU, and Houston.
But wait—it appears that ILLINOIS recruited the kid as well! Now you see why Illinois is giving Ohio State so much trouble...they are recruiting the types of ATHLETES that Tressel seems not to know that he needs.
Tressel probably was among the many who backed off Rodgers because he was only 180 pounds soaking wet and carrying lead in his pockets. Never mind the fact that THE KID SCORED 52 TOUCHDOWNS AS A JUNIOR IN TEXAS 4A BALL!
I forgot, I am supposed to be DEFENDING Jim Tressel, not bashing him. I can do that by comparing him to Pete Carroll once again. After all, Pete Carroll didn't recruit Jacquizz Rodgers either, despite the fact that Rodgers is a four-star recruit from Texas whose skill set, according to the recruiting services, was very similar to that of Reggie Bush.
So where Tressel ignored a highly recruited player who didn't fit his system, Carroll ignored a highly recruited player who not only did, but unlike Ronald Johnson, apparently also has the ability to hold on to the football.
After this weekend, when the polls come out, USC will not drop very far (they will almost certainly be ahead of not only Ohio State but also every other one-loss team, including the loser of the SEC top 10 showdown between UGA and Alabama, and also Virginia Tech who is undefeated since switching QBs, and will probably even be ranked higher than undefeated UConn, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, and South Florida, you East Coast bias hypocrites), and the media will start charting their path to the title game.
Even if the title game is between two undefeated teams, the media will claim that we need a playoff, because why should USC not have a shot at the title just because they stumbled? After all, they only lost by six points, and you know how tough road games are in the Pac-10.
Look at how they destroyed Ohio State. They destroyed Virginia and Notre Dame too...it isn't their fault that Virginia and Notre Dame are mediocre...those are traditionally strong programs! And is there a better coach in college football in Pete Carroll?
In other words, it's the same excuse that they make for USC every year, and the same excuses that they made for FSU throughout the 1990s (except that at least in the case of FSU they were losing to top 10 Florida and Miami teams instead of Stanford and Oregon State).
The fans will go for it, just like they always do, when the truth is that Tressel does as well or better than Carroll with lesser players on offense—and so do not a few other coaches for that matter.
Enough is enough. If you are not going to criticize Pete Carroll, USC, and the Pac-10, then be silent against Tressel, Ohio State, and the Big Ten.