Best in Show

By Sarah on September 24, 2012 at 3:00p

During Jim Tressel's 10 years at Ohio State, he never won the Big Ten Coach of the Year. He won a national championship and seven conference titles1, but he could never get the best of Kirk Ferentz. In the Big Ten Coach of the Year race, that is. Head-to-head, Tressel was 5-1 against Ferentz when Ohio State played Iowa.

This past Saturday, Iowa lost at home to Central Michigan, a team that was only ever a little bit relevant when Dan LeFevour was their quarterback, and his last season was in 2009. Coincidentally, that was the same year that Ferentz was last named the conference's COY. Tressel, meanwhile, took Ohio State to Pasadena, where they became the first Big Ten team in a decade to claim victory in the Rose Bowl.

I bet he has a deal with the devil that allows him to earn nearly $4 million a year and the repercussion of that is AIRBHG. "Orange you glad I didn't say banana?" - Kirk Ferentz' best joke

So, when the Hawkeyes fell to the Chippewas, one of the first thoughts throughout Buckeye Country was, "Way to go, Mr. Big Ten Coach of the Year."

The reason they're still bitter from the multiple Tressel snubs is the same reason they continue to hold a grudge against Paul Posluszny for stealing beating out AJ Hawk for the Butkus Award: fans want who they perceive as the best to be acknowledged as the best.

As a self-described TV nerd, I dutifully tune in to the Emmys every year, hoping my favorites take home the winged statuette. It's not because it ultimately matters if voters decide to give Vince Gilligan an award for blowing off Gus Fring's face, but rather, because I thought season four of Breaking Bad was the most outstanding drama on television for the 2011-12 season2.

Overall, I felt the Emmys were a lackluster affair, much like the previous day's football games: mostly yawn-worthy and somewhat head-scratching, with a few bright spots thrown in to keep it from being a complete letdown. 

That's not the only comparison I found between the two. In one way or another, several of this year's Emmy-winning shows can provide insight into both Ohio State football and college football in general.

Breaking Bad

Unlike Walter White at the beginning of the series, Ohio State has not been given a death sentence, but their diagnosis for this season is grim in one respect: there will be no postseason.

After the UAB game, Urban Meyer declared, "we seem to have a very passive team." What they need to do is plan for the future and, in a sense, break bad.

The Buckeyes can't win a B1G title, but they can help determine who does. Their chance to "raise hell" begins this Saturday in East Lansing. If they continue to play inconsistently like they have been, someone will make them pay for their mistakes and soon. Although Michigan State has also struggled with inferior opponents, they have weapons that could defeat Ohio State if they turn in another subpar performance.

Braxton Miller probably still has nightmares about the Spartan D, which is currently ranked sixth in the country in total defense. We already know he's got the moves to waltz into the end zone like a Dancing with the Stars contestant. However, Michigan State, as well as other upcoming opponents, will pressure Miller to throw. He has to be more accurate than he was on Saturday and his receivers have to hold on to the ball.

Against UAB, though, Ohio State attempted to ensure a better tomorrow on the offensive side of the ball. Urban gave his quarterback the power to change the play at the line of scrimmage, which his coach called "a great first step for him."

The Buckeyes were also able to establish more of a running game outside of Miller. He could have carried the ball more and will have to when they face a tougher opponent. In the long term, it helps that he wasn't relied on to be the entire offense:

There is no magical cure for the defense's tackling problems and their propensity to give up big plays, but they can figure out ways to execute better. For all its flaws, this team can still be dangerous, if they embrace that role.

Or to put it more simply, Ohio State can become the one who knocks. 

Game Change

During election season, voters often hear the same sound bites over and over, either because the candidates try to frame the issues or the media grabs onto a certain story line and won't let it go. It doesn't matter how much or how little truth is behind the talking points; the more they're repeated, the more perception becomes reality. 

So, a little girl holding a daisy symbolizes the threat of nuclear war under Barry Goldwater, or Willie Horton signifies that Michael Dukakis is soft on crime. Whether you believe it isn't important. All that counts is whether collectively, the American people do.

Even though everyone knows the Big Ten as a whole is not taking the college football world by storm right now, "the B-1-G is B-A-D" narrative has reached hyperbolic levels. The insults are getting less clever3 and the amount of vitriol continues to increase.

The Big Ten can also boast swing state relevancy.Contrary to popular belief, the B1G will not be nuked

It might be a down year for the conference, but its members didn't start stinking it up overnight and they won't get better overnight either4. Yet, change has to start somewhere and although they're dismissed because of their weak reputations, Northwestern and Minnesota are both currently undefeated and have noticeably improved, especially on defense, from last season. Ohio State and Michigan are each building toward a bright future, and whatever struggles Wisconsin and Michigan State are going through, both programs have solid foundations.  

While the Big Ten's top teams have proven to be either overrated or enigmatic so far this season, the ACC hasn't exactly been stellar, except for Florida State and maybe Clemson, and even the mighty SEC has to deal with the American Horror Story that is Arkansas football at the moment.

The Big Ten has too much going for it outside of football—strong academics, inimitable college towns, a vast army of alumni, basketball, a Scrooge McDuck-like vault filled with money for Jim Delany to swim in—for it to become irrelevant in the sport. 

Yes, they have to start beating nonconference opponents, but like elections, these things are cyclical. Neither party holds on to Congress or the presidency forever, and the Big Ten won't always be the butt of everyone's jokes.

Modern Family and Homeland

All night long, Modern Family was cleaning up during the comedy portion of the Emmys, so by the time it was announced as the Outstanding Comedy Series winner, it was evidence of, as Jon Stewart put it, "just how predictable these (five-second delay) things are."

There's a certain sitcomish predictability to college football, too. LSU will have trouble with a mediocre SEC foe and then end up pulling it out by some stupid score like 12-10, in a game where a field goal accounted for all the second-half points.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma will come up short on the big stage and Denard Robinson will throw more accurately to the other team than to his own wide receivers.

Therefore, it's only inevitable that Alabama, who has dominated their competition, will repeat as national championships, right?

Before this year, Mad Men had never lost the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy, a perfect four wins in four tries. Similarly, in his portrayal of Walter White, Bryan Cranston had nabbed the Lead Actor in a Drama Emmy for all three years he had been eligible. Most experts thought they were both locks to keep those streaks alive.

Instead, freshman series Homeland unseated Mad Men and its two stars, Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, were honored in the lead acting categories. 

Other teams, like Florida State and Oregon, have impressed and just might have the tools to take down Alabama if that's how this season unfolds. But we're only a month into it, and last year at this time, LSU looked unstoppable, just as Ohio State did in 2006 and Miami did in 2002.

Even among the foregone conclusions, college football provides many unexpected results. That's the erratic, bipolar nature of the game.

  • 1 Of course, only six are now recognized, but whatever. He won seven. 
  • 2 The fifth season, which just concluded earlier this month, will be eligible for next year's Emmys. 
  • 3 Johnny's B1G recaps not included because those are great and you should read them. 
  • 4 I'm not interested in a debate about whether it should even matter how good the rest of the conference is. In this age of the Big Ten Network and SEC chants, it becomes harder to escape that shared conference identity and if other B1G teams get embarrassed, it reflects poorly on Ohio State. 

Comments Show All Comments

gwalther's picture

Knew this piece was going to be solid after it started off by reminding everyone of Tressel getting snubbed. "Oh, 8 BCS bowls and 5 BCS bowl WINS in ten years, but yeah, I probably wasn't the best coach in the Big Ten in any one of those seasons."
Or we could go with: "Ohio State was coming off back-to-back Outback Bowl appearances, and losses, when I was hired. Instead of allowing the Buckeyes to continue the slide into mediocrity like another big time Midwestern program (cough, Notre Dame), I rebuilt the Buckeyes into a national powerhouse and perennial winner. Oh, and I set the program of That School Up North back at least 5 years, while completly reversing that school's previous 13 years of general domination over us. But yeah-I'm probably undeserving of a single Big Ten Coach of the Year award in my ten years."
Wtf, Big Ten.

Class of 2008

yrro's picture

I still have no idea how he didn't win it in 2002 or 2006. You could at least make an argument the others years that he wasn't overachieving, which isi what the award usually measures.

gwalther's picture

Him not winning in 2002 is mind-blowing.
I have to call myself out on messing up the facts a bit. The two years prior to hiring Tressel we actually MISSED going to a bowl entirely, then followed that up with an Outback Bowl loss. But that has about a 0% effect on the point I was making.

Class of 2008

luckynewman13's picture

Tress did win the (Sports Illustrated?) National Coach of the year in 2002, right? Or is that incorrect?

Estrada's picture

On the other hand, any award with Ron Zook's stink on it probably isn't worth winning (Zook won it in 2007).

BuckeyeSki's picture

I always thought Kirky's favorite joke was getting voted Coach of the Year. I mean...the rest of us laughed pretty hard at that one.

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

buckeyeEddie27's picture

 The first line is like walking face first into a brick wall.  It just doesn't make sense.  Gwalther you get a solid up-vote from me.

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

gwalther's picture

Thank you sir.

Class of 2008

Mike's picture

My TV take on this team so far:  They are children of the summer...and winter is coming. - Game of Thrones

headina's picture

It is a crime the vest never won COTY. More so than Walt and Jesse cooking up some top of the line meth. 


BriGuy's picture

Was hoping to see a reference to the best show on tv The Walking Dead. It might have been very fitting describing the BIG right now.

Denny's picture

It's only the best show on TV if Videogum's recaps are taken into account.


luckynewman13's picture

I enjoy Walking Dead but in general I consider it a missed opportunity at this point, a show that's less than the sum of its parts.
Did they really need to spend 12 episodes looking for that girl? really? But I'm hoping it gets better (YA MICHONNE AND THE PRISON!).
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!END SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It also doesn't look good for the show and its writers that the story and characters for the tie-in video game are FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC! I highly suggest any Walking Dead fan (show or comic) play it.
Go bucks! (please don't downvote me for not talking about football) /done begging

Alhan's picture

Are you talking about the Walking Dead Serial game that's up on Live?  I've played through the first episode and think its great that it took a different storyline than that of the show.
As far as the show itself goes, I thought season 1 was amazing, but felt I had to force myself to stay involved with season 2.  There have been some great moments, but as a whole it was pretty slow.  Here's hoping that all of S3 is as exciting as the S2 cliffhanger leads me to believe!

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

luckynewman13's picture

Ya, the episodic one made by TellTale games. I highly suggest you stick with it (I admit that the control scheme get in the way a little bit, at least on the PS3) because I CRIED during the third, I was really bawling. I haven't cried at a television series or movie since Forrest Gump...and that's when I was 9 years old!

B1G 10 Buckeye Stuck in SEC Country's picture

I will just go ahead and appologize for my ignorance...Did anyone else not read who the article was written by until the part about the Emmys and then say to themself "Please tell me this article was written by Sarah" only to be relieved when they went back and saw that it was indeed written by Sarah?  Apparently in my little world it's only socially acceptable for women to watch the Emmys...

" Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid." - John Wayne 

Baroclinicity's picture

It's not ignorance at all... but the footnote in the second line should have instantly given away the author.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

WC Buckeye's picture

We can REALLY be resentful (and correct about our suspicions of an anti-OSU bias) when, in a couple of years, Coach Meyer's done all his magic and HE doesn't win COY. Wait for it.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

Poison nuts's picture

I gotta say, although Breaking Bad is my favorite show, Homeland is one hell of an incredible show & I don't mind that it was the one to beat Breaking Bad out...
Edit: Footnote number 4 is spot on!

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Alhan's picture

I have Sarah to thank for Breaking Bad.  I had seen the first few episodes about a year ago but hadn't gone back to it.  Her many references to its awesomeness made me decide I should get back to it. Now starting Season 3 on Netflix!

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

headina's picture

Same here! Wrapping up season 2


Sarah's picture

That's awesome. Seasons 3 and 4 are when the show really kicks it into gear. 

Poison nuts's picture

It actually manages to get better with every passing season...shame it's coming to an end..

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

osubuckeye4life's picture

Yes, however I think it's time to end while it is still very good. Some shows go far past their prime and lose their luster. 
I was a huge fan of The Sopranos. Watched it from beginning to end but by the end I was glad it was ending. They were running out of ideas. I felt the from 1-4 Sopranoes was awesome it was after the fourth season I felt things started to go downhill. 
OZ is another HBO show I felt went on too long. One side note it's amazing how many actors and actresses started on that show and went onto other TV shows and movies.
Out of all the HBO shows I've watched I think The Wire is the only one that had the perfect amount of length. Carnivale didn't get a chance. Deadwood was cut short. 
24 was a very good show for a long time but how many times can Jack Bauer save the world/be betrayed by his friends/ become a double agent/avenge a loved ones death/etc before ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. However, I am interested in seeing the movie once it is released.
Dexter is another show that I absolutely have loved and after the fourth season is starting to loose the fire. I'm hoping that the current season is the last one. The way the story line is going I could certainly see that being the case.
Sons of Anarchy I sense is starting to get near it's end as well. 
Justified another show that I don't see continuing too much longer. That said I'm still loving the show (Boyd Crowder is one of the best characters on TV).
Fringe is ending this year and I think it's for the best. I'll miss the show however, the way the story line is setup will make this final season go out very well (I hope). It is a travesty that John Noble never won an Emmy for his character of Walter Bishop. 
I think four seasons for most shows is plenty. 

rkylet83's picture

Brilliant use of the Ducktales reference!

ccollins0325's picture

Comparing the winners with Tressel during his career, in the 10 years I see 2 NOs, 2 Maybes, and 5 (6) YESs
Actual Total - 10 NOs - Still can't grasp this.
Year: Coach, School (record) - Bowl / BIG Champs?
2001: Ron Turner, Illinois (10-2) - Lost to LSU in Sugar Bowl / Y
2002: Kirk Ferentz, Iowa (11-2) - Lost to USC in Orange Bowl / Co (OSU)
2003: John L. Smith, Michigan State (8-5) Lost to Nebraska in Alamo Bowl / N
2004: Kirk Ferentz, Iowa (10-2) Defeated LSU in Capital One Bowl / Co (TTUN)
2005: Joe Paterno, Penn State (11-1) Defeated Florida State in Orange Bowl / Co (OSU)
2006: Bret Bielema, Wisconsin (12-1) Defeated Arkansas in Capital One Bowl / N
2007: Ron Zook, Illinois (9-4) Lost to USC in Rose Bowl / N
2008: Joe Paterno, Penn State (11-2) Lost in Rose Bowl to USC / Co (OSU)
2009: Kirk Ferentz, Iowa (11-2) Defeated Georgia in Orange Bowl / N
2010: Mark Dantonio, Michigan State (11-2) Lost to Alabama in Capital One Bowl / Co *(OSU+WSC)
2011: Brady Hoke, TTUN (11-2) Defeated Viginia Tech in Sugar Bowl / N
OSU Comparison
Year - (Record) - Bowl / Big Champs? Should have been COTY?
2001 - (7-5) Lost to South Carolina in Outback Bowl / N / No (bad year)
2002 - (14-0) Defeated Miami in Fiesta Bowl (NC!) / Y / Yes (That's one)
2003 - (11-2) Defeated Kansas State in Fiesta Bowl / N  / Yes (That's two)
2004 - (8-4) Defeated Oklahoma St. in Alamo Bowl / N / No
2005 - (10-2) Defeated Notre Dame in Fiesta Bowl / Co (PSU) / Maybe
2006 - (12-1) Lost to Florida in NC Game / Y / Yes (That's three)
2007 - (11-2) Lost to LSU in NC Game / Y / Yes (Zook? Really? That's four)
2008 - (10-3) Lost to Texas in Fiesta Bowl / Co (PSU) / Maybe
2009 - (11-2) Defeated Oregon in Rose Bowl / Y / Yes (That's Five)
2010 - (12-1) Defeated Arkansas in Sugar Bowl / Co (MSU+WSC) / Yes (That's Five (Prob vacated)

Estrada's picture

2003 may be the biggest snub of that bunch (which I can't believe I'm saying given that we won the whole damn thing in 2002).  But 2002 and 2003 are both big snubs; 2007 is a snub, but the Zooker did beat us on our own field that year, terrible fumble no-call aside (we still made Juice look like a good QB that game).  The 2006 Badgers played a pillow soft schedule that year (if memory serves), but Biels was in his first year bro'ing it up for Wisky (so I can see why they gave him the nod).  As for 2009, that should have gone to Tress as well, but I can at least see the argument that Iowa had the same record (albeit with a head-to-head loss) with lesser players.

Urban John Simon Meyer's picture

By these standards, it's amazing that RichRod never got the nod.

Bobcat04's picture

There were two reasons for a guy to watch the Emmys last night.  And both of them belonged to Kat Dennings.  And both were on display.

Estrada's picture

I believe photographic evidence demonstrates that there may have been as many as 6 reasons to watch the Emmys (though Kat's are 2 of the 6).