Jim Tressel has added to his already impressive resume with the Buckeyes' heart attack inducing win in the Sugar Bowl against the Arkansas Razorbacks. After whiffing in two straight NCG games, the Sweatervest legion have come back swinging with two BCS victories over the past two years. The two losses against SEC foes in the NCG tattered both Ohio State's and Tressel's national reputation, especially in the South. The win in the Rose Bowl a year ago gave a much needed boost to Ohio State's national prestige. But heading into this season there were still doubters out there, people who were dubious Ohio State had what it took to win a game against an SEC team. The 2010 season played itself out and lo and behold it pitted Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. Here was Ohio State's chance to redeem itself against their personal Kryptonite . . . an SEC team . . . a team with 'Southern Speed'
The stakes of the game were raised with the revelation of the Tatgate scandal and once more with the huge egg the Big 10 dropped on New Year's day. Suddenly the Big 10 was once again on the cusp of becoming nationally irrelevant. In one hard day the Big 10 fell hard and fell fast, becoming a national laughingstock in the eyes of everyone. Only a Buckeye win against Arkansas could salvage any respectability for the Big 10. Not only did Ohio State need the win for the Big 10, but they also needed it for themselves. They needed it to soothe the sting of the Tatgate scandal, they needed it to silence the critics, they needed it to ensure the record would not extend to 0-10.
Hungry for the win, the Buckeyes came roaring out of the gates en route to a comfortable 28-10 lead at the half. Ohio State's offense went cold and Arkansas continued to put more points on the board, resulting a potential blowout turn into an uncomfortably (at least from the Buckeyes' point of view) tight game. A sense of impending doom seemed to settle over the field as the lead continued to lessen and as Ohio State failed to mount any sustained drives. The Razorbacks recovered a blocked punt deep in Buckeye territory. With momentum on their side, Arkansas seemed poised to finish an incredible comeback. Fortunately, Solomon Thomas came up with a late interception to seal the game for the good guys.
With the win, Tressel added another BCS bowl win to his resume. But has this win put him in a league apart from the rest of the coaches out there? Maybe not quite, but it certainly puts him among the leading candidates. It also puts the Sweatervest one Orange bowl ring away from being the only coach to win all four BCS bowls. Having won the Fiesta bowl (several times), Tressel has recently added two more BCS bowl wins to his resume. Jim Tressel has the most BCS bowl game appearances (8) of any coach. He also boasts the most BCS bowl wins in the coaching ranks. Without a doubt Tressel is among the best, if not the best, college football coaches out there. The Sugar bowl win has done as much to vindicate and repair Tressel's reputation as it has for the Buckeyes.
Will Tressel ever get a shot at the Orange bowl? A Buckeye appearance in a future Orange bowl is something that is unknowable at this point. But if Jim ever does get a shot at the Orange, I have faith that he's the best coach period to come out of the Orange bowl with the 'W'. For now though, I will 'settle' with basking in the afterglow of Tressel's latest win.