Former Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel instituted a culture of winning and excellence on and off the field during his time at Ohio State, and his results on the field were remarkable. Tressel's win/loss record at Ohio State is unofficially 106-22 all time. His official record is 94-21 with wins vacated by NCAA sanctions after the tattoo-for-bartering scandal.
As Tressel resigned in its wake, many thought his legacy at Ohio State was too tarnished to ever recover. Still, Tressel remains one of the most successful and beloved Ohio State football coaches in program history.
Tressel will be inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday, September 19, and it's a well-deserved honor. Let's take a look at a few of the actions and accomplishments that got him there.
1. Tressel vows to beat That Team Up North pretty much the instant he's hired.
At the press conference introducing Jim Tressel as Ohio State's new head football coach, Tressel explained that he would be running a program that would make fans proud on and off the field.
"You'll be proud of our young people in the classroom, in the community and most especially ... in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan," Tressel said.
Tressel certainly knew the way to Buckeyes' fans hearts, and making it clear that beating That Team Up North was a priority won over Buckeyes supporters right away.
2. Tressel makes good on the aforementioned promise.
Of course, vowing to beat that team would have meant nothing if Tressel hadn't delivered. Tressel's predecessor, John Cooper, had an abysmal 2-10-1 record against That Team Up North, and fans were certainly ready for change. On November 24, 2001, Ohio State took on their most bitter rivals in the hostile Big House and came away with a 26-20 victory with backup quarterback Craig Krenzel under center thanks to a drunk driving arrest for starter Steve Belisari.
Ohio State jumped out to a 23-0 lead, stunning that other team into submission. That Team Up North regrouped and fought back, but ultimately fell short, and Jim Tressel had secured the first of many, many victories over that team.
3. The national championship victory in 2002.
There are many, many other fine memories from Tressel's tenure, but in my opinion, none approaches the National Championship victory following the 2002 season.
Ohio State made it to the big game after an undefeated regular season that included wins over No. 10 Washington State, No. 17 Penn State, No. 17 Minnesota, and a Team Up North team that was ranked No. 12. Their opponent, the Miami Hurricanes, was favored over the Buckeyes and widely expected to repeat as National Champions, and the nation watched, stunned, as the Buckeyes defense dominated, forcing five turnovers and limiting Miami to just two scores in regulation. The game was tied 17-17 as time expired and went to overtime.
The Hurricanes struck first in overtime, with Ken Dorsey delivering a seven-yard touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow, Jr. Things looked grim for Ohio State until Craig Krenzel completed a fourth-and-14 pass to Michael Jenkins to keep hope alive. A Krenzel rushing touchdown gave both teams another shot to win.
In the second overtime, a five-yard Maurice Clarett touchdown run gave Ohio State the edge. The Hurricanes, with a little help from Ohio State defensive penalties, found themselves with a first and goal on the two-yard line. The Buckeyes defense stood firm, and Dorsey's fourth down passing attempt was incomplete. The Buckeyes were national champions.
What's your favorite memory from the Jim Tressel era?