Jim Tressel is now the latest Buckeye to be handed a five-game suspension to start the 2011 college football season. Previously, the university had issued a two-game suspension for his knowledge of what's known as Ink-gate in Columbus.
However, before the NCAA could rule on his punishment, Tressel decided to take the same as his players, stating:
"Like my players, I am very sorry for the mistakes I made. I request of the university that my sanctions now include five games so that the players and I can handle this adversity together."
So now that we know that Tressel, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, starting offensive lineman Mike Adams, leading rusher Daniel "Boom" Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, and D-lineman Solomon Thomas are all out, the questions now shift to how this will affect the Buckeyes' season.
There are many factors that play into how the Buckeyes come out of the first five games. First, there's the issue of their schedule.
Akron and Toledo start of the 2011 slate, both of which will be played in the comfort of the Horse-shoe. Then comes the bigger test, a road trip to what will undoubtedly be a huge showdown with the Al Golden led Miami Hurricanes. This could be the first bump in the road.
But the bump will smooth out over the next two games as OSU plays Colorado, a team that appears to be headed nowhere on paper, and in Michigan State, a team that they seemingly beat every single time.
So in which game do the fab five and their fearless leader return? Well, it's Nebraska, silly: in Lincoln for what will be a huge test, even at full strength.
The bottom line with the scheduling is that it favors the Buckeyes. They play no divisional games during the span, and as long as they take care of the games within the division, they should have no problems crossing the border to Indianapolis come early December.
Who will step up to fill the shoes of guys like Pryor, Herron, and Adams?
Well, if there is one thing you should know by now, Ohio State never rebuilds. OSU reloads.
Joe Bauserman is the likely candidate to fill in for Pryor. Last season, the senior played mainly in mop-up duty, with an appearance against Illinois that left a bad taste in his—and in Buckeye fans'—mouths. Look for him to be a more-than-adequate replacement for Pryor for several reasons.
Why? The Buckeyes look to be more of a power team. With the losses of WR Dane Sanzenbacher and the suspension of Posey, OSU really has no go-to guy. This could also lead to more of a short passing game that could allow TE Jake Stoneburner to be the standout in the system. Also remember that Bauserman will likely get a majority of the snaps in the pre-season—which can make all the difference in the world.
Who wins the "Leaders" Division in 2011?
The running game has several options that include Jaamal Berry and Jordan Hall. Both should have little trouble putting up numbers against the Akron's and Toledo's of the world.
But there's one final question that really has no answer yet: who will stand in and coach while Tressel is gone?
The obvious choice is defensive coordinator Jim Heacock, who has been with OSU for 15 years. Heacock has been the DC since 2005, leading several units that have been just nasty. He was also the D-line coach on the national championship team of 2002.
That said, why will the Buckeyes still win the division and head to the Big Ten title game?
Simply put, they don't play any extremely important games while their big five are gone. Plus, even without them, they are still as good—if not better—than many teams at the D-I level. Ohio State may lose a game or two during the stretch, but they will blow through their division, including through the Badgers, who stunned them last year in Madison.
On a side note, I personally think that what Jim Tressel did shows leadership. Sure, he was in the wrong for knowing the potential violations and not notifying the proper authorities—but when you become a whistle blower to what could have all but ended their 2010 season, there is not a lot you would want to do.
The bottom line is winning. Winning equals job security. Tressel is not an idiot, and he knows what could have happened if he had gone forward nine months ago. Nevertheless, I still think he did the right thing by joining his teammates in serving their suspensions.