Jim Tressel's "310 Days" Speech Market a Turning Point Ohio State vs. Michigan Rivalry, Buckeyes Must Keep Momentum

By Kevin Harrish on January 18, 2022 at 11:10 am

“In 310 days in Ann Arbor Michigan...”

When Jim Tressel arrived at Ohio State ahead of the 2001 season, the Buckeyes had just two wins in the previous 13 meetings with Michigan and just one win in the past six matchups.

Tressel, a relatively unknown coach from Youngstown State, was tasked with stopping the bleeding from the abysmal run in The Game. And his first impression with Ohio State fans could not have been better.

When introduced to the Buckeye fanbase in a packed St. John Arena during halftime of the Ohio State-Michigan basketball game, he was not prepared to speak. He was told that he was to simply smile and wave and accept the applause of the crowd.

But when he suddenly found himself with a microphone in his hand, he delivered a short, candid, off-the-cuff speech that would change the rivalry for the next two decades.

“I can assure you that you will be proud of your young people in the classroom, in the community, and most especially in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan.”– Jim Tressel

It wasn't pandering and it wasn't scripted – Tressel knew exactly how many days until Ohio State met Michigan. Since the day he took over as the Buckeyes' head coach, it was that important to him. And so was winning.

As important as the speech was, it would have meant nothing more than Michigan's Kyle Kalis' "blood on the field" promise had Ohio State lost. But Tressel delivered on his words. 310 days later, the Buckeyes beat the Wolverines 26-20 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the fans were indeed proud.

But it didn't stop there. Tressel rattled off a 9-1 record over the next decade before Urban Meyer took over and went 7-0 himself. Now, it's up to Ryan Day.

Day beat Michigan in his first try and was prepared to "hang 100 on them" in his second before COVID-19 forced a cancelation, but in 2021 he did what no full-time Ohio State head coach had done since 2003 – lost The Game.

One loss in The Game will not tarnish a long-term legacy – Tressel himself suffered a loss back in 2003 – but it does serve as a reminder that despite the 2001 turning point and the two decades of dominance that followed, there's still work to do.

Ohio State still has to uphold the standard that Tressel set, still has to prepare 365 days of the year, and still has to beat Michigan every single day.

Tressel yearns to live long enough to see the day that Ohio State is above .500 in all-time series with Michigan. He did his part by flipping the rivalry and laying the groundwork. Now, it's up to Day and the current Buckeyes to finish the job.

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