Skull Session: Jim Tressel Thinks the “Buckeyes Will Make Us Proud in Ann Arbor,” Ohio and Michigan Feud Over a Detroit Billboard and Ryan Day Falls in a Coaches’ Ranking

By Chase Brown on May 19, 2023 at 5:00 am
Jim Tressel
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State fans. Members of Buckeye Nation. The 15%.

Did you know that Ohio State football plays its first regular-season game of 2023 against the Indiana Hoosiers in 106 days? That's close but not close enough. Alas, we must wait.

Let's have a good Friday, shall we?

 THE SENATOR HAS SPOKEN. In Thursday's Skull Session, I included a Q&A session between the Toledo Blade's Kyle Rowland and former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit at a charity event in Toledo, Ohio. Their discussion involved Ohio State, Michigan, The Game and college football writ large.

As Rowland and Herbstreit's conversation took place, another Blade sports writer, Dave Briggs, talked with former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel about similar topics, specifically a defining moment in Tressel's tenure: his “310 Days” speech at a men's basketball game between the Buckeyes and Wolverines on Jan. 18, 2001.

"I can assure you that you will be proud of our young people in the classroom, in the community and, most especially, in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the football field."

This week, The Senator offered a pep talk to Ohio State fans ahead of the 2023 season that mirrored those famous words spoken into existence many moons ago.

"There's no question," Tressel told The Blade, "that I think the Buckeyes will make us proud in Ann Arbor."

Tressel also claimed Ohio State will "go up (to Ann Arbor) and turn it the other direction," retaking control of the rivalry – one the Buckeyes dominated for two decades before back-to-back losses in 2021 and 2022. He then provided context to that remark:

“I've really grown to be a believer, whether it’s a society, a family, or a football team, until you suffer a little bit, it’s hard to learn lessons,” he added. “Now, we've suffered. I tell people all the time, the strength of our 2002 national championship team was that they were done suffering. They'd been 6-6, 8-4, 7-5. They’d had it. They weren’t going to lose. ... Michigan might have suffered a long time, and maybe they felt like they've suffered enough. We’re all allowed to learn lessons. It’s not just the Buckeyes. Now I think you’re going to see a real square-off, and I’ve got confidence in the Buckeyes.”

Folks, The Senator has spoken. Ohio State will beat Michigan in 2023.

As for Tressel's speech, I wanted to touch on that real quick. When Briggs asked Tressel about what preparation went into it, if any, Tressel had a fantastic story to tell:

“I didn’t know they were going to hand me the mic,” he said, “but ... I thought about what I’d been thinking about through the entire interview process, what I’d been talking about with the administration. That was the importance of that game. I made it clear to them I knew how important it was, and I guess at that moment, I wanted to make it clear to our fans that I knew that’s important. We’re not going to back down.”


Just legendary.

 THE HEART OF IT ALL. For those who aren't aware, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a new tourism slogan for the state last week: “Ohio, The Heart of it All.” Well, actually, new is old in this instance, as the state used the same slogan to attract visitors to the Buckeye State in the 1980s but changed it in the early 2000s. Time is a flat circle, folks.

Whether the slogan is old or new, “Ohio, The Heart of it All” will be plastered all over the Midwest as the state attempts to attract tourists to Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland and several other cities and towns. And, yes, the Midwest includes That State Up North, too.

On Wednesday, Taijuan Moorman of The Columbus Dispatch reported that a banner with Ohio's slogan was placed on a billboard in downtown Detroit, which naturally stirred up Ohio's rivalry with Michigan on Reddit's r/Detroit, with one user posting a photo and others flooding the comment section with comedic and sarcastic remarks.

by u/dublbagn from discussion WTF is this?
in Detroit

by u/ch4rli3br0wn from discussion WTF is this?
in Detroit
by u/TheBimpo from discussion WTF is this?
in Detroit

by u/-Sanguinity from discussion WTF is this?
in Detroit

by u/Akahige- from discussion WTF is this?
in Detroit

I love that Ohio and Michigan's rivalry exists not only on the football field but also in banter like this. Again, this Reddit post about an Ohio billboard in the state shaped like a glove – which has only been up for three days – has over 1,900 upvotes and 473 comments from residents of both states. That's insane, but it's also what makes this rivalry so incredibly fun, ridiculous and silly, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

 AND WAY DOWN WE GO. Ryan Day has hovered around the No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 spots in the numerous rankings for college football coaches this offseason. However, CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli has a different perception of Ohio State's head coach, ranking Day at No. 8 one season after he was No. 6 on Fornelli's list.

1 Nick Saban Alabama
2 Kirby Smart Georgia
3 Dabo Swinney Clemson
4 Lincoln Riley USC
5 Jim Harbaugh Michigan
6 Brian Kelly LSU
7 Kyle Whittingham Utah
8 Ryan Day Ohio State
9 Luke Fickell Wisconsin
10 James Franklin Penn State

Here is what Fornelli wrote about Day, including a brief explanation about his decision to drop Day two spots in the rankings:

“I don’t want to keep harping on this, but let’s compare results. Day failed to win the Big Ten for the second straight season but led Ohio State to the CFP for the third time in his four seasons, nearly knocking off Georgia in the Peach Bowl semifinal. And he falls two spots. Make it make sense! Anyway, while not winning the Big Ten two years in a row will always be seen as a failure in Columbus, Ohio, Day has lost six games total in his four seasons and is 31-2 in the Big Ten. The problem is who those two losses have come against.”

Look, I know back-to-back losses to Michigan are unacceptable for Ohio State. I will never deny that, nor will Day, his staff or players. But that doesn't mean Day doesn't deserve respect as one of the best coaches in college football.

Day's six losses as a head coach have come to Nick Saban (No. 1 on the list), Kirby Smart (No. 2), Dabo Swinney (No. 3), Jim Harbaugh (No. 5) and Mario Cristobal. Of those names, he's beaten Swinney once and Harbaugh once, and while I don't believe Michigan dodged Ohio State in 2020, the Buckeyes would have obliterated the Wolverines had that game been played. I will die on that hill.

I will also die on the hill that Day is a better coach than Lincoln Riley, Brian Kelly and Kyle Whittingham. I have a lot of respect for all those coaches, but what do they have that Day doesn't? Give me the bearded man from New Hampshire over the Quarterback Guru, Fah-muly Man and – well, I quite like Whittingham, so I will not call him a name, but I will still take Day over him. This moment will forever be legendary, though.

 OLYMPIC VILLAGE. Ohio State men's tennis was supposed to have its chance to redeem the football program on Thursday with an Elite Eight matchup against No. 6-seeded Georgia in the NCAA Tournament. However, that chance was delayed after severe weather hit the USTA Campus in Orlando, Florida, last night.

Something to keep in mind for those who will watch the Buckeyes and Bulldogs face off on Friday and potential future matches Ohio State competes in this weekend is that this season's squad is legit. Some may even say they are too legit to quit.

With a veteran roster of Cannon Kingsley, JJ Tracy, Justin Boulais, Robert Cash, Andrew Bernard, Jack Anthrop and – last but certainly not least – James Trotter, who is still undefeated in singles in 2022-23, the No. 3-seeded Buckeyes are the hottest team in the country with 17 consecutive wins.

That said, has there ever been a better time for Ty Tucker and Ohio State to win it all? To do so, the Buckeyes must defeat Georgia on Friday, the winner of TCU vs. Michigan on Saturday and either Virginia, Kentucky, Texas or South Carolina on Sunday.

Ohio State reached the Final Four last season but fell to No. 8-seeded Kentucky, 4-1, in the NCAA semifinals. The Wildcats were eventually the sacrificial lamb for Virginia, losing to the Cavaliers 4-0 in the championship. Tucker and Co. will look for a better fate in 2023, with a title so close yet so far away. Best of luck to the Buckeyes this weekend.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "This Love" by Dogpark (Maroon 5 Cover).

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