The Ohio State football team has reached its bye week with a 4-3 record. For only the fourth time in 11 years, the Buckeyes will end up with at least three losses - and there are still five games left to play. This season, which has has been defined by anxiousness and uncertainty has now added on-the-field performance to its list of troubling issues. The stalwart, stingy defense that has carried the team for most of the past decade has been unable to completely obscure the offense's deficiencies and the result is a 4-3 record that nobody finds acceptable.
Luke Fickell is a little more than halfway through his head coaching tryout and the mood around the Woody Hayes Athletic Complex is one of nervousness: On Saturday morning before the game at Illinois, university administration quietly announced that traditional midseason performance reviews have been postphoned in order to carry out a new project being driven by "an anonymous but significant community powerbroker, Board of Trustee member and renown industry titan who conquered the international panty market."
While temporary job security has been the staff-wide assumption ever since Jim Tressel resigned in May, the BoT has accelerated its evaluation of the football operations, bringing in two world-renown efficiency consultants - Bob Slydell (left, above) and Bob Porter - to conduct meticulous interviews of specific coaches to assess how the operation is being run in 2011.
Eleven Warriors has acquired a portion of the transcript from the interviews that were conducted at the WHAC this past Sunday, October 16 following the team's triumphant return from Champaign.
(shuffling papers) Bob, who do we have first?
(looking at agenda) Hmm...it says we're meeting with a "Coach Tressel." (pauses) Wow - I absolutely love that guy, but I was under the impression that he no longer worked here.
[Dick Tressel enters]
Hello, Coach Tressel.
You're Coach Tressel. Is that your real name?
Are you any relation to the football coach who wears the sweater vest?
(hesitant; reluctant) ...Yes, the name more than just a coincidence.
(Laughing) To be honest with you, I love his coaching. I do. I am a Coach Tressel fan. For my money, I don't think it gets any better than when he runs off tackle for 32 consecutive quarters and goes 8-0 in conference play.
(looking at Tressel) I mean, you must really love his coaching.
Yeah. Yeah…he, he, he's pretty, he's pretty good, I guess.
You're GOD DAMN right he is!
So tell me...what's your favorite coaching strategy of his?
Hmm. I, I, I don't know. I mean, I guess, I sorta like 'em all.
[Bob and Bob laugh]
HA HA! I feel the exact same way, but it must be hard for you, I mean, having the same name as him. I celebrate the guy's entire catalogue. But anyway, let's get down to business, Coach Tressel!
You...you know, you can just call me Dick.
(staring silently in disapproval)
[Thirty minutes later. Bob and Bob are now interviewing Jim Bollman]
(reading season play-by-play log) So...what you do is take a handful of arbitrary, predictable plays and tell the players to run them at random?
That, uh, that's right.
Well, then I gotta ask, then why can't the players just choose and run those same arbitrary plays by themselves?
Well, uh, uh, uh, oy, oy, oy because, uh, players are not good at dealing with making decisions at random.
You, yourself created the predictable plays in this playbook that you choose from with no particular rhyme or reason during the course of a game?
Um, no, my old boss created those plays.
But you randomly choose from those plays, without any regard to what's happening in the game? Like calling draw plays when there hasn't been any real attempt to pass the ball, telegraphing inside handoffs right into the teeth of the defense, having Joe Bauserman launch the ball toward the sideline in an obvious clock-running situation or running play-action on third and 17?
Well, no, I let the backup quarterbacks do that. Yeah...I mean, um, oy, sometimes.
Well Coach Bollman, what would you say…you do here?
Well, look, I already told you. I deal with the god damn playcalling so the players don't have to!! I have coaching skills!! I am good at dealing with players!!! Can't you understand that?!? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!!!!!!!
[Thirty minutes later.]
The next paper looks like a "Mike Vrabel."
Aha! All right. We were just talking about you. You must be Mike Vrabel. Uh huh. Terrific. I'm Bob Slydell and this is my associate, Bob Porter.
(looks at Porter) Hey, brah. (nods at Slydell) Brah.
You see, what we're trying to do here, we're just trying to get a feel for how people spend their day. So, if you would, would you just walk us through a typical day for you?
Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late. I use the side door at the WHAC, that way Luke can't see me. Uh, and after that, I throw in a fresh lipper and just sorta rage for about an hour.
Yeah. I just throw myself around shouting Puddle of Mudd lyrics and screaming at the players, but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch too, with another fresh lipper. I'd probably, say, in a given week, I probably do about fifteen minutes of real, actual work.
Uh, Mike, would you be a good sport and indulge us and tell us a little more?
Sure, bros. Let me tell you about what this "offense" does to our defense...
[Fifteen minutes later, Vrabel has not stopped talking]
The thing is, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy. It's just that I just don't care.
It's a problem of motivation, all right? Now, we can have the defense grinding and getting our sacks on with awesome three-and-outs all up in the stadium and three plays later, we're punting and they're right back on the field after barely a minute to chill. We end up playing three games in one and get blamed by these "lose as a team" goats when we finally run out of steam. It's bogus, brah. So where's the motivation?
Believe me, this is hypocritical. But what if you were offered some kind of longer-term incentive, or late-game performance reward?
I don't know. I guess. Listen, I'm gonna go. It's been pretty rad talking to you guys.
[Vrabel bro-hugs Bob and Bob]
Absolutely. The pleasure is all on this side of the table, trust me.
Good luck with your layoffs. I hope your firings go really well.
[An hour later. Bob and Bob are now meeting with Gene Smith and Gordon Gee]
Right. So there's a couple more people we can easily lose. There's Jim Bollman.
Sounds good to me.
Here's a peculiar one: Nick Siciliano.
The "quarterbacks coach."
We can't find any record of him being a university employee.
(looking through paperwork) I looked into it more deeply and found what happened - he was hired as a practical joke six years ago and terminated after one game, but no one ever told him about it. But through a glitch in payroll, he still gets a paycheck. I went ahead and fixed the glitch.
So, um, this "Nick" has been let go.
Just a second there, Professor. We, uh, we fixed the glitch. So he won't be receiving a paycheck anymore. So it'll just work itself out naturally.
We always like to avoid confrontation whenever possible. The problem is solved from here on, then.
Uh, we should move on to a Mike Vrabel. I had a chance to meet this young position coach and boy does he have straight-to-upper-management written all over him.
Ooh, uh, yeah. I'm going to have to go ahead and sort of disagree with you there. Yeah. Uh, he's been real flaky lately and I'm not sure that he's the caliber person you want for upper management.
(looking at Slydell) I'll handle this. We feel that the problem isn't with Vra-bro.
It's that you haven't challenged him enough to get him motivated by handcuffing him and the rest of this talented staff to the grossly underperforming, leftover cronies of the previous head coach who have mismanaged the roster, the playbook, all of the quarterbacks and virtually everything else that they come into contact with while on the job.
There it is.
Yeah, I'm not sure about that now.
Alright, Gene. Let me ask you this: How would you say you have handled your job over the past ten months?
[End of transcript]