The Rest of the Big Ten is Trying to Take Down Ohio State, and the Sooner Ryan Day Knows This, the Better

By Johnny Ginter on August 10, 2019 at 7:15 am

The best statistic that exists about the Jim Tressel era of Ohio State football is how utterly and angrily he destroyed Northwestern football following a loss to the Wildcats early in his tenure.

Following that 2004 debacle, Tressel's Buckeyes played Northwestern four times, winning every game by an average score of roughly 51-9. Remember, this is freaking Jim "Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em" Tressel, the man who never saw a 28-10 score he didn't like. Ohio State fans will rightly have fond memories of his teams grinding Wolverines into dust, but I've always found it incredible that he chose Northwestern as the one team to get all hairy assed about.

There had to be more to it. Maybe Pat Fitzgerald made fun of his sweater vest, maybe Tress couldn't get a seat at Gibsons, maybe Jim Delany had his car towed, but whatever the case, one simple loss to the Wildcats couldn't have caused the Senator to go full Road House year after year after year.

Point of interest number two: of the approximately 83,389,812,091 pages of documents Ohio State dumped on us last week, probably the most interesting part of it was the extreme pettiness exhibited between college football coaches and their hangers-on via text and e-mail. The amount of subterfuge involved in basic, mundane actions leads me to believe that the whole of college sports is pretty much just your typical Midwestern passive-aggressiveness writ large.

This is useful information for identifying your enemies.

Every season, Athlon Sports asks Big Ten coaches to comment anonymously submit their opinions about the other teams in the conference. Most of what has been said about Ohio State over the past five seasons (as Kevin pointed out in the Skull Session yesterday) has either been glowingly positive or at the very least, cautiously optimistic. To the untrained eye.

It takes a native Midwesterner like myself to recognize the subtleties inherent in the shade being cast, and if Ryan Day (from New England) is going to properly cultivate a Tresselian hatred for a hapless Big Ten opponent, he needs to understand exactly what he's up against. So maybe Day is reading these missives thinking that he's got a pretty good bead on his opponents. Nothing could be further from the truth, and that's why I'm here to translate.

What Was Said

In 2016, you got this gem:

“Up front, defensively they are a heavy-handed, powerful team. It’s like, I hope we get three yards when we run the ball. They’re not as committed to bringing extra players into the run fit as a team like Michigan State. They’re so talented they don’t have to do that to stop you.”


"They're dumb and don't know how to play a defensive scheme."


Folks, this has all the markings of a Pat Fitzgerald special. Fitz still probably considers himself a defensive coach for whatever reason, and huffing his own farts about how "okay yeah, they've got the athletes, but we've got the brains" seems like an incredibly on-brand thing for the Northwestern coach to say.


This, from 2017:

“The culture Urban Meyer has built will use the playoff shutout to their advantage."


"Urban Meyer is a dick."


Could be literally anyone in the conference. But most likely, you guessed it, Pat Fitzgerald.


From the current edition:

"Defensively, they were good up front, but they didn't have the secondary play last year that you expect from OSU. There's no Marcus Lattimore. There's no Eli Apple. It's a position that's hurt them again and again. ... Teams got more and more confident that if you blocked well up front, you could hit them hard downfield. That's what Purdue did."


"Ohio State has a garbage secondary and that gives me a glimmer of hope that I, head coach of a B or C-Tier Big Ten team, might stumble into a win against the Buckeyes in 2019."


Man, so many choices. It's got to be the coach of a middling team that's come close to beating Ohio State recently, but hasn't actually done it, and has enough confidence (warranted or not) in their offense that they could do what Iowa and Purdue have been able to pull off in recent years. Pat Fitzgerald.


After winning the national championship in 2014:

“I wasn’t surprised they won (the national title). I thought they would win it. I told everybody who would listen that I thought they would beat Alabama and Oregon. They were one of the best looking teams I have ever seen in person. And they are well coached.”


"I'm a big fat liar."


Patrick William Fitzgerald, Junior.

The conclusion is obvious: Pat Fitzgerald and the Northwestern Wildcats must be destroyed. As so it was with Jim Tressel, so shall it be with Ryan Day.

Paranoid? Sure, you'd be paranoid too if Pat Fitzgerald was on a multi-decade quest to bring your football program to its knees and laugh in the smoldering ashes of Ohio Stadium! But paranoia is good, because if Ohio State wants to maintain its position at the top of the Big Ten, it needs to jealously guard its talent as it warily keeps a lookout for threats like Smaug sitting on his mountain of gold.

Connect the dots and you'll find out that everyone is out to get you (but especially Pat Fitzgerald) if you happen to be the Ohio State Buckeyes football team. Knowing this helped Tressel and Meyer stay on top, and it'll help Ryan Day do the same.

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