Well, it was bound to happen.
In his eighth season in Columbus, after yet another embarrassment on a national stage, St. James Patrick Tressel is starting to feel a little heat.
Things have been so good in town for so long -- despite the two MNC collapses (hey, we made it to the game, right) -- that the head football coach has been praised for his ability to walk on water, cure the blind and eliminate traffic on 270. Sure, there was a bit of a bad spell in 2004, including a drubbing in Iowa City, but that was only two years removed from a championship season. The team rebounded with great seasons in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and all was soon forgotten.
But this latest episode in which his team came out flat, once again made costly mistakes and once again were outclassed by an elite team has the fans and the punditry coming down hard on Tressel for the first time:
So apparently thatâ€™s it now for Ohio State. They fought hard. Letâ€™s just focus on the moral victory â€“ the lament of every blown-out, schedule-padding cupcake in college football. We were overmatched and outcoached, sure, but we fought hard.
Only this is Ohio State. The Buckeyes keep getting their asses kicked when they dare to venture out of Big Ten/MAC land and Tressel doesnâ€™t look or sound the least bit concerned.
The critics see an opening and they're jumping on it. There are even some that think he kept Beanie out of the USC matchup to game the BCS system, as absurd as that sounds (though it's not exactly reassuring when Terry Bowden has your back).
Even the local press, in all of it's Pravda-esque glory, is starting to rumble. It's clear that changes are needed in some fashion or another, whether it's more diversification of the playbook, inserting fresh blood (most notably handing the ball to Pryor and letting some of the young receivers and linemen take over) or outright staff changes. Hey, if fans can eventually turn on Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden, they can certainly turn on Tressel and the next five or six games will determine just how much heat he heads into the offseason with.
Though you'd have to be a fool of the finest magnitude to advocate a change at the top, what exactly do you want to see? Are fans being too zealous in asking for new coordinators or position changes? Is his noted loyalty to seniors actually a handicap? Is beating Michigan year-in and year-out enough in this era of heightened expectations?