Jim Tressel's greatest moments at Ohio State
Following the news of the resignation of Jim Tressel, FOX Sports Ohio has put together the best moments in Tressel's career as a Buckeye.
Coach Tressel brought a lot of amazing moments to the fans of the scarlet and gray. Here's a handful of my favorites:
Jan. 18, 2001 — Columbus, Ohio
Two weeks earlier, Ohio State had been embarrassed on the field by South Carolina, and head coach John Cooper was fired. The new guy was in town, and he wasted no time getting the support of Buckeye Nation.
Introduced as the head coach at halftime of Ohio State's basketball game against Michigan, Tressel took the microphone and delivered the speech that endeared him to everyone wearing scarlet and gray.
"You'll be proud of our young people in the classroom, in the community and most especially.....in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan."
The crowd erupted. Finally, they had a head coach who understood "The Rivalry" as much as they did.
310 days later . . .
Nov. 24, 2001 — Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ohio State 26, Michigan 20
Jim Tressel promised Buckeye fans a win, but it wasn't going to be easy.
Nine days before the Buckeyes were to take on Michigan for the first time in Tressel's career, starting QB Steve Bellisari was arrested for drunk driving.
Tressel immediately suspended the senior for the Illinois game, but speculation was the suspension would be lifted for the Michigan game. Speculation was wrong. Tressel benched Bellisari and gave the start to Craig Krenzel, a sophomore who had never started for Ohio State before.
Fortunately for Krenzel, his arm wasn't needed very much. The Buckeyes burst out to a 23-0 lead thanks to the powerful legs of senior Jonathan Wells.
Wells rushed for 129 yards and three touchdowns, most of them coming in the first half. Michigan was so shocked by the fast start, they panicked, fumbling the ball repeatedly and even changing quarterbacks for one horrible play that resulted in a safety.
By the time the Wolverines were able to regroup, it was too late. A Mike Doss interception late in the game helped put the Buckeyes on the scoreboard one more time, and the margin was too great to overcome.
Jim Tressel promised Ohio State fans they would be proud 310 days earlier, and he delivered on that promise.
Nov. 9, 2002 — West Lafayette, Indiana
Ohio State 10, Purdue 6
In Tressel's second season, the Buckeyes found themselves undefeated at 10-0 as they went to battle Purdue.
The Boilermakers have always been a nemesis of Ohio State, and their chance to ruin a perfect season was enough to fire up the home team.
A defensive battle emerged, and Mike Nugent booted a 22-yarder as the clock expired in the first half, knotting the game at 3-3. Purdue took advantage of an impressive drive midway through the fourth quarter, but the Ohio State defense held strong in the red zone and Purdue had to settle for a field goal that gave them a 6-3 lead.
As the clock wound down, Ohio State took possession at the midfield. Two plays yielded negative yardage, and Ohio State faced a third-and-14 with under two minutes to play. Craig Krenzel found TE Ben Hartsock for 13 yards, and it was fourth-and-1 for Ohio State, who had no timeouts left.
What came next is known to Ohio State fans simply as "Holy Buckeye."
The traditionally conservative play calling of Tressel had the Boilermakers thinking a short run was being called, but the Buckeyes shocked everyone when Krenzel stepped back into the pocket. As the defense closed in around him, Krenzel found WR Michael Jenkins down the sideline with single coverage and lofted the ball over his right shoulder for a beautiful 37-yard TD pass that gave Ohio State a 10-6 lead.
Purdue's Kyle Orton took one last shot at victory, but threw deep into double-coverage, where it was picked off by Chris Gamble. Ohio State had survived and advanced to an 11-0 record.
Nov. 23, 2002 — Columbus, Ohio
Ohio State 14, Michigan 9
Undefeated going into the final game of the season against Michigan. Ohio State fans had seen this movie before. The difference this time was that Jim Tressel was the director.
Tressel's first shot at a National Championship would have to go through the 11th-ranked Wolverines, and the game was every bit as thrilling as you would expect.
Michigan's offense was one of the best in the nation, and Ohio State boasted the top-ranked defense. The defense ended up reigning supreme on this day.
Michigan scored on all three of its' first-half possessions, but no touchdowns were to be found. Three field goals were all they could muster, depsite gaining over 200 yards of offense in the first 30 minutes. Ohio State found the end zone once, thanks to Maurice Clarett, and the Wolverines led 9-7 at the half.
The score remained 9-7 until eight minutes remained, when Ohio State took over possession near midfield. A short pass to FB Brandon Schnittker crossed the 50, and a tough four plays picked up another first down as Ohio State reached the Michigan 33-yard-line.
On first-and-10, Clarett snuck out of the backfield and Krenzel found him down the left sideline for a 26-yard pass completion that sent Columbus into a frenzy. Two plays later, Maurice Hall burst over the goal-line for a 3-yard touchdown and a 14-9 lead.
Michigan was not ready to concede yet.
With less than five minutes to play, QB John Navarre led the maize and blue on a drive that seemed all too familiar to Buckeye fans. However, on second-and-15, Navarre was sacked and lost the ball. Will Smith came up with it as 2:29 remained on the clock.
Michigan used all their timeouts to force a punt out of the Bucks and got possession back with 56 seconds remaining and 80 yards of football field separating them and a win.
Navarre hit Bratylon Edwards on fourth-and-10 and found Ronald Bellamy twice to get the ball to the Ohio State 24 with under 10 seconds to play.
With one terrifying second left on the clock, Navarre threw into the end zone for the win, but Will Allen secured the ball and Ohio State was off to the Fiesta Bowl for a shot at the National Championship.
The field was swarmed by students and fans, and Jim Tressel had completed his first perfect season at 13-0. Only one more game to go.
Jan. 3, 2003 — Fiesta Bowl
Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (2OT)
One year earlier, Miami had won the National Championship in a blowout over Nebraska. They returned almost every starter from that team and had won 34 games in a row. No way was Ohio State going to win this one.
The Buckeyes' powerful defense shocked the nation, holding the Hurricanes offense to just two touchdowns in regulation while forcing five turnovers, giving Ohio State their first National Championship in three decades.
OSU's nerves showed early in the game with repeated mistakes but no costly errors. Miami got on the board first with a lightning-fast drive and led 7-0 after one quarter.
That's when the defense kicked in gear. Midway through the second quarter, Mike Doss stepped in front of a Ken Dorsey pass and found the right sideline. Before he was done, he had scampered 35 yards down to the Canes' 17. It took seven plays for Ohio State to score, but when Craig Krenzel took it over the goal-line, Buckeye Nation had made a statement.
Two plays later, Dorsey was sacked from behind and lost the ball into the arms of Darrion Scott at the Miami 15-yard line. In a matter of minutes, the proud champions had their backs to the wall and were playing scared.
On second down, Maurice Clarett found the end zone again and the Buckeyes led 14-7. Tressel pumped his fist as the sideline erupted onto the field to congratulate the offense.
Ohio State's first possession of the third quarter included one of the most memorable plays in college football history. The Buckeyes had reached the Miami six-yard line thanks to a 57-yard pass from Krenzel to Chris Gamble, but on the ensuing play, Krenzel threw an interception to Sean Taylor.
As Taylor cut toward the sideline, Clarett chased him down from behind and swatted at the ball, ripping it free from Taylor's arms. As the pair crashed to the ground, Clarett had the ball and Ohio State retained possession. The end result was a 44-yard field goal to extend the lead to 17-7.
Miami scored late in the third quarter, and knotted the game at 17-17 as time expired on a beautiful 40-yard field goal by Todd Sievers. Overtime awaited.
Miami struck first on a seemingly helpless defense, as Kellen Winslow grabbed a TD pass for a 24-17 lead. Then things got worse for the Buckeyes.
A penalty, a sack, and an incomplete pass led to a fourth-and-14 for Ohio State. Miami was already celebrating on the sidelines. But they hadn't watched enough film from the 2002 season.
Krenzel found his go-to guy, Jenkins, for a 17-yard pass down the right sideline to keep the Buckeyes alive for the time being.
But another fourth down was forced from the five, and this time the play would be etched in memories forever.
As Krenzel dropped back on fourth-and-3, he already had his target in Chris Gamble. He lofted the ball toward Gamble, who went up for the catch. As the ball made its way to the end zone, the two players in its path got tangled up and the ball fell to the earth. Miami players rushed the field as the celebration began.
They never saw the yellow flag that had been thrown from the back corner of the end zone.
Terry Porter's flag will be debated for an eternity by college football fans, but the call had been made: holding on Miami. Ohio State took the ball into the end zone three plays later and tied the game at 24-24.
A rejuvenated Buckeye offense took the ball over the goal-line in just five plays in the second overtime. Clarett scored from five yards out, and Ohio State took a 31-24 lead as the stadium began to shake.
Miami used its last possession to get inside the two-yard line, thanks to penalties and a great catch by Winslow. Miami's high-powered offense had four plays to get two yards and send the game into a third overtime.
They never got there.
A 1-yard rush on first down was followed by an incomplete pass. The defense stuffed Quadtrine Hill on third down, and it was down to the final play. Dorsey dropped back to pass in a 4-WR set, and LB Cie Grant was on him almost immediately. Grant had blitzed from the right side and Dorsey threw the ball as he was being wrapped up. It fell harmlessly in the end zone and the celebration finally began.
Jim Tressel had delivered the NCAA's first 14-0 season and won the BCS National Championship in his second season.
Jan. 2, 2006 — Fiesta Bowl
Ohio State 34, Notre Dame 20
Ohio State was favored to reach the National Championship game in 2005, but two close losses in the first five games derailed those hopes. But they weren't done yet with their bowl glory.
Fourth-ranked Ohio State had one of the nation's best offenses. Sixth-ranked Notre Dame had returned to glory under a new head coach. It was the matchup of the Bowl Championship Series.
And it lived up to the hype.
Ohio State racked up 617 yards on the Irish defense, finding big play after big play from its superstars. Among the big plays;
• A 56-yard TD pass from Troy Smith to Ted Ginn Jr.
• A 68-yard reverse from Ginn
• An 85-yard TD pass from Smith to Santonio Holmes
• A 60-yard run from Antonio Pittman
In a game that featured Notre Dame stars like Brady Quinn, Darius Walker, Jeff Samardzija and Tim Zbikowski, it was all Ohio State in a 14-point victory. Quinn never reached the end zone, being sacked twice by his future brother-in-law A.J. Hawk.
Nearly two dozen players from that game are now playing in the NFL.
Nov. 18, 2006 — Columbus, Ohio
Ohio State 42, Michigan 39
In the 100 years of Ohio State-Michigan football, the two teams had never been ranked No. 1 and No. 2 when they met.
Both teams were 11-0 heading into the game, and the Buckeye offense was going to collide with the Michigan defense. No opponent had rushed for over 60 yards as a team in any game against Michigan in 2006, and the Buckeyes had scored 35 or more points seven times in their first 11 games. Something had to give.
Two days before the game, former Michigan coach (and former Ohio State assistant coach) Bo Schembechler passed away, bringing a moment of sobriety to this war.
Both teams paid tribute to Schembechler before the game, and both teams then played the only way Bo would have demanded. Hard.
Michigan took the opening possession 80 yards for a fast touchdown, and the maize and blue fans were in full celebration mode. The lead didn't last long.
Ohio State struck back with six minutes to play in the first quarter on a Troy Smith TD pass to Roy Hall, then struck again on their next possession. Beanie Wells spun out of a tackle in the backfield and raced 52 yards for the go-ahead score.
Ohio State never trailed again.
They took a 21-7 lead when Smith executed a beautiful fake on second-and-inches, finding Ted Ginn over the middle for a 39-yard TD.
The two teams traded TDs, and at the half, the Bucks led 28-14.
Troy Smith had been unflappable through 11 games, but suddenly found his own flaws when he was picked off deep in his own territory early in the third quarter. Two straight bad series brought Michigan to within 28-24, but the Buckeyes picked up their distraught leader.
Antonio Pittman found a hole over the middle and went untouched 56 yards into the end zone, expanding the lead back to 11 points at 35-24 midway through the third quarter.
Michigan's previously dominant defense was unable to slow down Ohio State, and a Smith pass to Robiskie from 13 yards out put the game out of reach at 42-31. Michigan scored with 2 minutes left, but never touched the ball again.
Ohio State finished the year at 12-0, No. 1 in the nation, and gave Jim Tressel his fifth win in six tries over his rival. The years of losing perfect records to Michigan had finally ended.
Jan. 1, 2010 — Rose Bowl
Ohio State 26, Oregon 17
Once a BCS champion, Jim Tressel had dropped three straight BCS games, two of them in the championship game. The reputation of losing big games had sunk in deep, and the nation was expecting another big loss at the hands of Oregon.
Oregon had run over most of the teams on their schedule, scoring 35 points or more in nine of their 12 games. Their speed was expected to overwhelm the Buckeyes.
Once again, they underestimated Ohio State.
The Buckeyes took the opening kickoff down the field, picking up 74 yards and a touchdown just three minutes into the contest. Terrelle Pryor began his day by picking up 63 of the 74 yards, racing past the Ducks numerous times.
They extended the lead to 10-0 before the first quarter ended.
Oregon mounted a comeback and early in the third quarter, they took a 17-16 lead when QB Jeremiah Masoli went into the end zone from one yard out. The offense had finally shown up for the Ducks, and they were ready to romp.
However, the Buckeyes took charge from that moment on. Long, sustained drives and a swarming defense dominated the final 26 minutes of play. Oregon only picked up two more first downs the rest of the game, and Ohio State held the ball for 20 of the final 26 minutes.
The Buckeyes took the lead almost immediately, and put the game out of reach with a fantastic pass from Pryor to DeVier Posey in the corner of the end zone.
Ohio State won the game 26-17, but the story of the day was all about Pryor. He accounted for 338 total yards, far more than the entire Oregon offense, and won the MVP of the Rose Bowl as the Buckeyes ended their losing streak in big games.
Jim Tressel also won his only Rose Bowl appearance of his career.
Jan. 4, 2011 — Sugar Bowl
Ohio State 31, Arkansas 26
0 and 9. Ohio State fans were tired of hearing that statistic thrown at them.
The Buckeyes were 0 and 9 in bowl games against the SEC, and here they were, facing 10-2 Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. It was time to end the drought.
Terrelle Pryor was looking for another performance like he had in the Rose Bowl, and he got it. Pryor went for 336 total yards as Ohio State pulled out a 31-26 win in front of an SEC-friendly crowd in Louisiana.
On the Buckeyes' first possession, Pryor took the team straight down the field, but fumbled on a long carry deep in Razorbacks' territory. The ball bounced around and through the arms of several players before Ohio State WR Dane Sanzenbacher leaped over a pile of defenders, landing on the ball in the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Arkansas struck back to tie the game at 7-7 on the next possession, but the rest of the half belonged to Pryor and the Buckeyes.
Boom Herron took it in from nine yards out.
Sanzenbacher pulled in a 15-yard pass from Pryor.
DeVier Posey hauled in a 43-yard bomb from Pryor.
As halftime came, Ohio State led 28-10 and was looking strong in dominant Arkansas.
Ryan Mallett, the Razorbacks feisty QB, was not finished yet. He threw for nearly 200 yards in the second half alone, and with just under nine minutes to go, he brought the Hogs to within 31-26. The partisan crowd smelled 0-10 and they were ready to make it a reality.
Ohio State took over possession with 4:33 to play and was trying to run the clock out. Three first downs brought the clock to two minutes when Arkansas started using their timeouts. A Herron run came up just short on third down, and the Buckeyes would have to punt with 1:15 to play.
Colton Miles-Nash burst through the wall set up to protect the punter and blocked the ball right off Ben Buchanan's foot, sending the Arkansas fans into hysterics. With 1:09 to play, they had given Ryan Mallett the ball at the Buckeyes' 18-yard line.
Two plays later, Mallett gave it back. Solomon Thomas stepped in front of Mallett's pass and curled around it on the ground as the Buckeyes swarmed him in celebration.
0 and 9 was over. The Buckeyes finally got the SEC monkey off their backs and finished the year at 12-1.
It was the final game Jim Tressel would coach at Ohio State.