Ohio State win defines Tressel, Big Ten

November, 14, 2009
11/14/09
11:56
PM ET
Here's some simple logic for you.

Jim Tressel is the face of Ohio State football. Ohio State has dominated the Big Ten under his watch.

Therefore, Jim Tressel is the face of Big Ten football.

[+] EnlargeJim Tressel
AP Photo/Jay LaPreteJim Tressel owns a 92-21 record as the Buckeyes' head coach.
Colleague Pat Forde accurately summarizes the two prisms through which Tressel is viewed. He's an amazingly successful Big Ten coach and a conservative playcaller who drives many people nuts -- even a lot of Buckeyes fans. If Ohio State had fallen to Iowa, fans would have put the loss right in Tressel's lap for going conservative at the end of regulation and not putting the ball in quarterback Terrelle Pryor's hands very often. And they would have been right.

But Tressel didn't lose. He almost never loses, especially in November and when the Big Ten title is at stake. But he has struggled in bowl games and marquee nonconference matchups in recent years. Does conservative coaching work outside the Big Ten footprint? We'll find out in January.

Forde writes:

You and [Iowa's Kirk Ferentz] are kindred spirits. Good coaches. Successful coaches. Yet your combined management of the end of this game is why the rest of the nation rolls its eyes at the bland Big Ten.

But do you care? No. You don't care. Because here in this tunnel-visioned, tradition-addicted conference, going to the Rose Bowl is just about as joyful a result as playing for the national title.

And you don't care because even after the fans voiced their dismay, hyper-conservatism triumphed in the end. Your painful-to-watch pragmatism was rewarded. The Vest knew best.

Your tight end, Jake Ballard, said this: "Tressel's way usually works out. He's our leader and we'll follow him everywhere."

To Pasadena now.

But how Tressel and the Buckeyes fare in Pasadena will ultimately determine how the Big Ten is viewed nationally.

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