Kings of the Big Ten: Past and Present

By Kyle Rowland on May 7, 2014 at 11:01p

TOLEDO – Four years and two presidential searches ago, Jim Tressel was king of the Big Ten. Thirty-six months after his ouster at Ohio State, he’s passed the torch to a loyal assistant.  

When Tressel was asked Wednesday about a return to coaching, he smiled and nodded in Mark Dantonio’s direction saying, “I'll leave the sideline up to the guys who know how to win.”

They still know how to play football in Columbus – Urban Meyer did orchestrate a school-record winning streak  – but life is tougher for the Buckeyes with Michigan State rearranging the conference’s hierarchy in one fell swoop last December.

“When we [arrived in East Lansing] in 2006, we dreamed big,” Dantonio said at a charity event in Toledo. “What we’ve been able to accomplish this past year was a result of that – seven years of sacrifice, commitment, laying our plan out and going through our goals.

“We’re now at the top, and that’s where Ohio State has been. A lot of that is thanks to Coach Tressel and the things he did. That’s where they’re at right now. The opportunity to compete at that level at this point in time in just a mindset. But we’re very fortunate to be there.”

When Ohio State met the Spartans in the Big Ten Championship Game, Michigan State was 11-1 but unheralded. It didn’t have a marquee win and the one blemish was a loss to subpar Notre Dame. But as it did in 1998 and 1974, Michigan State topped the undefeated Buckeyes, spoiling a possible national championship.

“We’re now at the top, and that’s where Ohio State has been.”– Mark Dantonio

This time the Spartans also ended Ohio State’s 24-game win streak. The schools’ Nov. 8 rematch in East Lansing is among the most anticipated games of the college football season. For at least one year, Michigan State has become That School Up North.   

“I’m awful proud of him,” Tressel said of Dantonio. “All the hard work he put into Michigan State, to see him with that [Rose Bowl] ring on, I’m like a proud father.”

Tressel’s statement came as he and Dantonio modeled their Rose Bowl championship rings – Tressel’s from the 2010 season, Dantonio’s from last year. And Tressel made sure to point out those are the Big Ten’s only victories in Pasadena dating to 2001.

Both triumphs came in part due to players from Ohio. Michigan State’s roster is stocked with Ohioans – 23 in all. The two heroes of the Big Ten title game, Connor Cook and Denicos Allen, hail from the Buckeye State and neither held a scholarship offer from Ohio State.

“There’s great football throughout the state of Ohio,” Dantonio said. “First of all, I’m from Ohio and I appreciate the level of football in Ohio. We’re always going to be involved heavily in this state. That’s a credit to the state of Ohio. There are a lot of good football players here, so there are a lot of opportunities to come here and recruit.”

Dantonio will find it’s much easier to pluck talent from Ohio when he’s on the right side of the scoreboard. 


When asked about his comments about never coaching again, Tressel said “ever is a long time,” but he doesn’t foresee a return in the future.

“I happen to be involved in two university’s presidents searches,” Tressel said. “Right now, that’s foremost on my mind.”

Last week Tressel said he has more important things to do than coach. Asked to clarify, he said, “I think working with kids is the most important thing. That’s why Mark works with the kids he does, that’s why all those years I coached the kids I coached and, now, I’m coaching 26,000. That’s why I said it’s more important, because it’s more kids.”

Tressel on Jack Mewhort: “Jack Mewhort is a great kid. Jack’s going to be a good NFL player. He’s shown he can play tackle, he can play center. He’s smart, he’s durable, he’s tough. I don’t know about [getting drafted] the first day, it’s going to be close. But second day for sure.”


Comments Show All Comments

buckeyeEddie27's picture

I love having Urban but man I miss Tress.

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

+28 HS
avail31678's picture

Well said Eddie.

+1 HS
Crumb's picture

Jake, I think the same way and then I wonder if Urban with a pair of national titles would change my mind.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

+4 HS
CC's picture

Jake - Never is a long time.

I think part of the reason we love Tress so much is because he was so consistant for so long.  Every year we knew what we were going to get, at least 10 wins, a BCS bowl and a chance to play for the national championship.

If Urban is around in 7 or 8 more years and has at least one ring I think we'll be saying the same thing.  Urban's candor is refreshing as is his all-out approach to coaching/winning/life.

We are very lucky to have had Tress and Urban as coaches.

+2 HS
JakeBuckeye's picture

Nope. Still won't top him. Urban could win 3-4 national titles and it wouldn't change.

AcrossTheField11's picture

For me, I grew up with Tressel.  He was hired when I was in 8th grade and was the head coach through my college years.  Seeing him oustered like he was was nothing short of heart-breaking.  

I'm thankful as hell to have Urban Meyer as our head coach and probably can't think of any active coach that I'd rather have at the helm, but damn do I miss Jimmy T. 

Time and change will surely show how firm they friendship... O-HI-O.

THEOSUfan's picture

Yeah, if Urban wins 2-3 NC's in the next ten years, I wonder if your thinking would change.  I'm with you, and understand where you are coming from.  But we are "what have you done for me lately" kind of creatures.

One thing Urban has trumped Jim in is my willingness to listen to what he says.  I sense Urban says what he thinks.  There is a frankness with him that I find refreshing. I do believe that he is always sending messages to certain players and others by his public comments, so he is being calculating in what he says, but if it's a "clown show" he calls it that.  Coach T hardly ever said anything of any substance, and rarely answered a question in a way that alerted you to what he really thought. After a decade of hearing "blah, blah, blah, blah, blah" from our head coach (who I loved anyway), hearing something that sounds like reality scores big points with me.

UFM needs to win B1G championships, compete for national championships (and win at least 2), and then I will move him above JT the Great.  Until then, my love for Tressel, in spite of him driving me crazy with his public comments, will rule the comparison between these two coaches.

+2 HS
TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

Yeah, if Urban wins 2-3 NC's in the next ten years, I wonder if your thinking would change.  I'm with you, and understand where you are coming from.  But we are "what have you done for me lately" kind of creatures.

Well, maybe you're thinking would change. But mine wouldn't. To me, there's more to life than just winning football games. Things like this made me immensely proud to have Jim Tressel representing my alma mater:

+1 HS
avail31678's picture

Gosh Dantonio is making it hard for me to dislike him.  On one hand, he's clearly our biggest threat at the moment (at least based on last year).  But here he is rememberin his roots and giving props to Ohio.  It really stung a little less losing the B1G champ game because it was against MSU.  I really respect Dantonio and their program right now.



+12 HS
Gametime's picture

There's nothing wrong with having respected rivals, especially those with Buckeye roots. Sparty's fanbase (in my experience) isn't half as bad as Michigan's or Penn State's, and in both major sports they have excellent coaches who you can't help but admire in Dantonio & Izzo and they are the enemy of our enemy. There's nothing wrong with having a respected rival in the making. I'll always have a soft spot for that guy as a person and as a ball coach and I wish him well in everything he does. #ThugLife

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

+9 HS
Crumb's picture

Right on Gametime, Sparty and Dantonio are ok in my book, and if Urban had decided to stay retired, I'd hope we would have called Coach D. Now that being said, given the 2013 B1G Championship Game, this year in East Lansing, and their loser neighbors in piss and blue; We don't give a d*** for the WHOLE state of *ichigan, we're from OHIO.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

+2 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

And being an Ohio man, I am sure Danontio would love to be TOSU Head Coach.  I am sure if asked he would skirt the question or deny it, but who could blame him?  That would be political suicide.

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

yrro's picture

I agree. There are rivals you hate, and rivals you respect. I want to beat Michigan State like hell every time we play them, but I can't bring myself to hate them.

hit_the_couch's picture

One fluke season doesn't equate to being the best.Had tosu knocked off the strange play calling and some what of a close to average pass d, that game would be different. It's like MSU is the new Wisconsin, almost. MSU will go back to normal this season. Probably 8-4 too.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

+4 HS
BME_Buckeye's picture

MSU wasn't a fluke last year, they were legit. They've been building up success to that point and beat us when it mattered. Hard to say that winning the Big Ten doesn't make you the best. Now I don't think they will have a run like we did under Tressel but for now they are at the top and OSU is a  king without a crown under urban. Give em their props.

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.


+3 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

Agreed - MSU was legit.  But - the B1G was down, and OSU's defense was pathetic as the season wore on.  I think the OSU-MSU game this year will be the beatdown that squashes any talk of MSU being at the top of the league.

My crystal ball tells me that Dantonio and company are in for a real treat from the OSU offense.  They lost quite a bit, and we have more speed coming in this year.  Let's hope Herman doesn't go soft on us like the 4th quarter of the B1G Championship game.  He MUST realize that he has more weapons than just Braxton.

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

+1 HS
hit_the_couch's picture

MSU wasn't a fluke last year, they were legit. 

I agree that they were decent last year. I say fluke season because that's what it is when you look at their history. In the last few years, the 10 win team they had was nothing special and beat a second rate Uga. The 11 win team got blasted 49-7 by a 3 or 4 loss bamer and 37-6 by a 7-5 Iowa team. 

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

Bucksfan's picture

Bragging rights are bragging rights.  The Spartans are the champs (Rose Bowl champs, at that) until proven otherwise.

+8 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Immediately what I thought of. All due respect to Dino, but Sparty has to show they can also stay at the top instead of getting there. They haven't managed that since Duffy Daugherty's mid-60's squads.

That said, November 8 is marked on my calendar.

+2 HS
CC's picture

Hov - MSU has been at or very near the top of the B1G for the last 3 or 4 years.  They beat every team in the B1G by 10 points or more, they are legit.

They just got over the hump this year.

The scary thing to me is that they remind me of the Buckeyes under Tressel, I could see them competing for B1G championships for as long as Dantonio is in Lansing.

+1 HS
Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

3-4 years is not 'staying there'. Just ask Iowa. Take away Ohio State's sanctions and Sparty's rise wouldn't have been noticeable.

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

This sounds like the reaction M*chigan fans and other fanbases had after Tressel won the title in 2002.

Everyone outside Columbus thought 2002 was a fluke. Well, it wasn't. They all thought we'd "come back to the fold" with the rest of the Big Ten. Instead, we separated from the pack considerably.

Dantonio is building his team the same way. And while they may not win 12-13 games each year, I certainly believe they will be a perennial 10-win team that is in the Big Ten hunt every year until the last week or two.

And you brought up the playcalling, and how that game would have been different this year. Well, look at it this way: if the refs wouldn't have prematurely blown a play dead in 2012 (a fumble that almost undoubtedly would have been returned for a defensive score), we'd have been riding a 3 game losing streak to Sparty.

CowCat's picture

I'm all for wishing Dantonio / Sparty well when we're not playing them.

That said, I want to see a true Urban Meyer "angry football team" march into East Lansing and stomp Sparty into the dirt.


"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

+4 HS
Wesleyburgess1's picture

I also hope we march in there and lay down a monumental ass whooping. Hopefully Sparty will beat Oregon this year too. If they win everything including the Oregon game and we end that streak I think you could say its a legit rivalry.

+2 HS
PoKeY21's picture

At this point in time Tressel is the 2nd greatest coach in Ohio State history. Meyers sitting somewhere around 5 or 6 at the moment. Hopefully in 5 years we can mover Meyer into the top 3 at worse. Possibly into the 2 slot even, but he's got a lot to prove in Columbus yet.

"It was a woman who drove me to drink, come to think of it I never did hang around to thank her for that"

Squirrel Master's picture

hmmm, lets see.

1. Woody!

2. Tressel or

2.Paul Brown (short term but did win a title in the 3 years he was there)

4. Urban

5. Bruce or

5. Cooper (I prefer Bruce, he could beat UM)



I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

+2 HS
PoKeY21's picture

Ya I had to grapple with the idea but I couldn't put Urban above Bruce or Cooper.  24 wins in a row to start a career is quite impressive, but in the long run tenure and consistency wins out in my book. If you want to put Urban ahead of Bruce or Coop it is def understandable. Im not going rank him 3rd though until Urban either wins us a National Championshsip, wins atleast 3 Conf. Championships, or passes Bruces 108 or Coops 158 win totals. Until he does 1 of the 3 i feel its disrespectful to Coop and Bruce and also completely unfounded to say Urban is the better Buckeye coach. Heck i could even make a case for putting John Wilce or Francis Schmidt ahead of Urban until he atleast wins a B1G title. The reason i wouldn't is because college football is much more hyper competitive today than the 20s and 30s. Either or Urban Meyer is not one of the top 5 coaches in Buckeye history YET, and I stress YET. He is well on the way to the 3rd or 2nd slot. 276, 13, 5 is probably unattainable though lol.







"It was a woman who drove me to drink, come to think of it I never did hang around to thank her for that"

buckeyedude's picture

Welcome to Toledo, guys. Beware of the $%^ing red light cameras. They're at damn near every corner.




Jpfbuck's picture

since the end of the 2010 season when Tressel coached his last game and when Nebraska joined the conference I think a reasonable case can be made that MSU has been the conference's top team or atleast tight there with us

MSU has been 31-10 since '11 with a conference title and another division title, they also won a share of the B1G title in 2010, they have 3 straight bowl wins including a BCS win last year and are 2-1 against us in 3 close games

we have been 30-9, no bowl wins, 2 division crowns but no conference crown and have a losing record against them so I would say it is very close between us

following behind would be Wisky and Nebraska who are 28-13 and 28-12 respectively, Nebby has won a division and Wisky a conference title all though they are definitely behind us

UM would then fall next at 26-13 and PSU at 24-13 (ignoring vacated games)

then comes Iowa and NW in the next teir

with maybe Minny and Indiana next and Purdue and Illinois at the bottom


so tier 1 - OSU, MSU

Tier 2 - Wisky and Nebby

Tier 3 - UM and PSU

Tier 4 - Iowa NW

Tier 5 - Ind and Minn

Tier 6 - Purd and Ill

Rutgers will probably fall somewhere around tier 4 or 5 and MD is a bit less known and I think  under rated  think  they could slide into teir 3 but my guess is 4 or 5 as well

+3 HS
BierStube's picture

we have been 30-9, no bowl wins, 2 division crowns but no conference crown and have a losing record against them so I would say it is very close between us

I get what you are saying .. but 7 of those losses were in one season for us!  Much like with investments, past results are not indicative of future gains.  What has happened has happened, what will happen is up to the current players and coaches.

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

Jpfbuck's picture

and 6 of their loses came in 2012 ie 1 season, I understand your point about past results don't guarantee future ones, but the point was that in recent history they have been essentially our equal as witnessed by the fact that the last 3 years we have played them once at home and lost, once on the road and won and once at a neutral site and lost, this combines with both overall and in conference records being very close to equal I would say they are very close to us in terms of overall performance

granted I think they will have more trouble sustaining that success than us (if the past is any indicator), but they have been arguably the 2nd best team in the conference since 2010 when they shared the title with us and Wisky

BierStube's picture

I get you point about last 3 years, but I am looking at the overall affect Dantonio has had.

       MSU         OSU

2007 7-6          12-1

2008 9-4          10-3

2009 6-7          11-2

2010 11-2        12-1

2011 11-3         6-7

2012 7-6          12-0

2013 13-1        12-2

I could easily say that over the last two years we are by far the most dominate team.  If the past is any indicator for them, they might have one more good year and then another down one.  There is no doubt much will be answered in November.

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+1 HS
Horvath22's picture

Nice job, JPF. I love to see reasoned analysis based on facts and figures, and not just wishes, opinions, and hyperbole.

Ball-Z-Buck's picture

Id love to see Tressel as AD at OSU

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Love coach D because of what he brought to OSU and besides the 3 hours when we play MSU, he is my second favorite active coach in the league!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Mark's picture

I still say things would be different if we didn't forget we had El Guapo on the team against Sparty.  I was the the Big 10 Championship Game.  I agree with most of everyone's comments above.  I have a little more respect for MSU than TTUN.  Even the fans.  I had several conversations with Sparty fans before and after the game.  There was some fun jabs at each other, some serious football talk, & discussions of our mutual dislike for all that is scUM. 

tennbuckeye19's picture

The big question for MSU is have they reached their ceiling? 

+2 HS
Eph97's picture

I saw that Cornel out of MN is seriously considering them now when everyone thought he was an ND lock. If MSU starts routinely signing OOS 5*'s their ceiling will grow.