Ohio State Football: 10 Possible Replacements for Jim Tressel
The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that the NCAA has handed down a 13-page "notice of allegations" that accuses Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel of dishonesty for hiding violations by seven current and former players of the Buckeye program.
The NCAA could determine that the initially-imposed $250,000 fine and self-imposed five game suspension suffices for punishment. Then again, they could determine that the university should be stripped of the wins that the ineligible players participated in and strip Ohio State of their 2010 Big Ten co-championship.
If the NCAA comes down heavy on Ohio State, will this be the death knell for Jim Tressel's career in Buckeye land?
If that's the case, who should the Buckeyes look to as the man to right the embattled ship?
The criteria should include:
Clean history (at least where the NCAA is concerned)
Football knowledge (of course)
10, Chris Spielman
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Spielman was an all-time great at Ohio State that would invoke wonderful memories for Buckeye fans. At linebacker, he was a freak of nature, a monster in shoulder pads and was eventually elected into the College Football Hall of Fame.
The problems with Spielman are obvious, though. Can he coach? Can he recruit? His only foray into coaching was with the Arena Football League's Columbus Destroyers in 2005 where he compiled a meager 2-15 record.
Still, as a Buckeye legend, Spielman would be an intriguing runner for the open position, should Tressel find his way out the door.
9. Jon Gruden
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I realize that this name has been thrown around and there has been nothing to entice "Chucky" back to coaching, especially at the college level.
However, as an Ohio native, you have to think that Gruden might be intrigued by the idea of taking over his native state's biggest football program, which also happens to be a perennial Big Ten title contender and one of the biggest names in American athletics.
Gruden has fire and passion, but most of all, he's got a somewhat clean image to help restore some of the lost respect to the program.
8. Glen Mason
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Mason has been out of coaching for a few years now too. However, he was in the hunt for the Ohio State job when Tressel was hired.
Mason is an alum of Ohio State who has years of head coaching experience, putting in nine years with Kansas and ten with Minnesota (plus two years at Kent State). His overall record isn't what the Buckeyes would like (123-121-1), but he's never had any issues with NCAA violations and knows all about Buckeye football.
Mason might not be a top choice with the fans, but to what extent would the administration go to paint the Buckeyes in a prettier light?
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Belotti pretty well completes the names of candidates that took a shot at Ohio State the last time they went fishing for a head coach. Yes, there were a few others, but these are the only ones that I see even being given a shot.
Belotti moved from Head Coach of the Oregon Ducks to AD. He left that position in 2010 to become an analyst for ESPN.
The upside for Belotti is that, in 14 seasons with Oregon, he racked up an impressive 116-55 record that included two Pac-10 titles and seven seasons that ended with rankings in both the coaches and AP polls.
Only one season (2004) ended in a losing record. The man knows how to coach football, plain and simple.
The downside is that, as AD, Belotti had to deal with LaMichael James, LaGarrette Blount and Jeremiah Masolli. He didn't exactly keep that program's image squeaky clean, and that is probably a huge knock on Belotti given Ohio State's current circumstances.
Another question is whether or not Belotti would even consider returning to coaching, even if it is for the Buckeyes.
6. Ron Brown
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Think this comes out of left field? Yeah, maybe.
Consider though, that Brown was the wide receiver/tight ends coach during Tom Osbourn's hayday at Nebraska. He was brought back by Bo Pelini after a short hiatus from coaching to help Nebraska put together a top-15 offense.
To my knowledge, Brown has never been considered for a head coaching position, but his results are tangible and he is familiar with a system that would work well at Columbus.
The lack of experience would likely keep him out of the running for such a high profile position, but Brown would be one of my "diamond in the rough" picks to keep a university like Ohio State competitive throughout a transition from the Tressel era.
5. Chris Petersen
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You don't think Ohio State would consider Petersen in light of E. Gordon Gee's "Little Sisters of the Poor" statement?
They'd be fools not to. Yes, Petersen's recent success comes on the back of playing in a decidedly weak WAC conference. However, he has taken much lesser talent than he can expect at Ohio State and delivered two undefeated seasons (out of five), two seasons with only one loss and one season with just three losses.
Over his five years at Boise State, Petersen has delivered an incredible 61-5 record. Some of those wins come over opponents such as Virginia Tech, Oregon, TCU and Oklahoma.
What's more, he has done so without any "problem children" putting the program under any kind of investigation.
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As with Petersen, Patterson should be a realistic candidate. That is, if he even wants to leave TCU.
The Horned Frogs are poised to make a move from the MWC to the Big East, finally giving them a conference with an automatic BCS Bowl bid, which in turn puts them in slightly better position to fight for a national title.
It would be tough to imagine though, that Patterson wouldn't entertain the notion of coaching on an even bigger stage, with access to even better recruits.
Patterson has racked up a 98-28 record at TCU that includes five bowl wins in the last six years, an undefeated season (2010) and a Rose Bowl victory (January 1, 2011) over Big Ten's Wisconsin.
3. Tom Bradley
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Has Bradley been pining for Joe Paterno's job? Maybe, but Penn State has continued to insist that Joe Pa is the coach for the foreseeable future, even without a contract extension on the table.
Bradley has been mentioned as a possible candidate for recent coaching positions, including an interview with Pittsburgh after Dave Wanstedt was pushed out the door.
Bradley is a solid recruiter for the Nittany Lions and would likely continue that tradition at Ohio State. As Defensive Coordinator, he has been pivotal in Penn State's successes in the Big Ten.
However, he has no head coaching experience. That would be a major concern for the Buckeyes.
On the flip side, he has been a part of a program for decades that has had very few incidents with the NCAA, despite dealing with some highly recruited players. If Ohio State is going to gamble, he's a good bet to go with.
2. Luke Fickell
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It's not a sweater vest, but it's a vest, right?
Fickell is slated to be the interim Head Coach during Tressel's five game suspension to start the 2011 season. He's a former Buckeye player and member of the staff since 2002.
Nobody knows Buckeye football any better than Fickell and can continue on with what Tressel has done at Columbus. If a firing/resignation doesn't happen until closer to the start of the season (or even later), Fickell will get an opportunity to show what he can do before an ultimate decision is made. Ohio State won't want to try to bring someone in at the last possible second and disrupt everything that this group has been working on.
In other words, Fickell should have an opportunity to "win" the position for himself. With his background and knowledge of the Buckeye system, he may be a better candidate than just about anyone.
1. Urban Meyer
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I know, "not again." Meyer has been mentioned as the top prospect for this position since it first broke that there was trouble in Columbus.
Even more importantly, Meyer left a national title-caliber team to "spend more time with the family." Why on earth would he come back to coach so soon and why on a Big Ten team rather than an SEC team?
It's the thrill of the competition. Meyer semi-retired following the 2009 season, but changed his mind just a month or so later to return to Florida. He can't stay away. It's in his blood.
Ohio State is a high profile program that gets fantastic recruits and can compete for a national title (after any pending sanctions are over). He could come in and take Ohio State to an undefeated season without missing a beat.
With national titles in 2006 and 2008 and a record of 65-15 at Florida, Meyer has to be a top choice for the Buckeye administration.