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What If? How would the coaching and quarterback positions have been different if Jim Tressel never left Ohio State?

If Tressel had remained coach, we would never have had Urban, Day, J.T., Haskins, Fields, etc....

NCAA Football - Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Notre Dame vs Ohio State - January 2, 2006 Photo by Gene Lower/Getty Images

All this week, LGHL writers will be bring you articles with inspired by their favorite Ohio State theoretical questions. Check out all of our What If? thoughts throughout the week HERE. Whether you disagree, let us know what you think in the comments below and on Twitter @Landgrant33.

With Terrelle Pryor making the headlines recently with his petition to the NCAA to reinstate Ohio State’s wins, records, and legacy from the 2010 season following the passing of the NIL laws, it got me thinking.

If players were allowed to profit off of their name, image, and likeness a decade ago, where would that put Ohio State today? Pryor would not have gotten in trouble, Jim Tressel would not have been forced out as head coach, Luke Fickell might have been groomed to be the next head coach, Urban Meyer probably wouldn’t have been hired, and then in turn, neither would Ryan Day. There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s just start back in 2010.

The domino effect truly starts with Tressel being forced to resign from his position as head coach. If none of this tattoo/memorabilia/benefits crap ever happened, I’m sure that Tressel would have remained for at least another 2-5 years. I mean, with Braxton Miller as the quarterback starting in 2011, it’s very hard for me to believe that Tressel would not have had successful seasons during that era at OSU.

Additionally, during that time, he could have been grooming the next head coach, which would likely would have been Fickell, who was instead shoved into the interim role in 2011. While Fickell was named Assistant Coach of the Year in 2010, obviously he still needed to learn the ropes from in order to be a great head coach (but, he has clearly figured it out by now as shown by Cincinnati’s success).

That’s another thing — Fickell has completely turned around Cincinnati’s football program, but if he was HC at Ohio State say by 2014 or 2015, Cincy would likely not be having the same prosperity as they are now — knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff.

So, let’s say that Tressel coached for a few more seasons, but Fickell was HC during the 2014 National Championship season. Would OSU have still won the Natty? Well, there’s a lot more to that question than you would think.

Obviously, the Buckeyes would not have had Urban Meyer as coach. Therefore, we likely wouldn’t have had Tom Herman as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, because he came to OSU as a result of the hiring of Urban. Herman is the one who convinced Meyer to offer J.T. Barrett a scholarship, and come play for Ohio State. He is the one who found J.T., a native Texan, and recruited him without ever seeing him play in person — Herman is the reason that J.T. Barrett is the leader in dozens of Ohio State and Big Ten all-time categories. So, without Urban and therefore without Herman, OSU probably wouldn’t have had J.T., either.

With no J.T., and an injured Braxton, that leaves us with Cardale Jones. Let’s remember that J.T. had the greatest season in Ohio State QB history, breaking the school record for total offense and the Big Ten record for total touchdowns. Could Cardale have done the same? Again, no one knows! Who knows if he could have had the same success that he did in the postseason throughout the entire regular season? How much of his success against Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon was because there wasn’t that much film on him available to study and scheme against?

It is just crazy to think about what Ohio State football would have been like without Urban Meyer, especially the quarterbacks. Two of the greatest in school history were a result of him and his recruiting: J.T. and Dwayne Haskins. Imagine not having Haskins … he broke so many school and Big Ten records in 2018 and it would be a shame if he was not convinced to flip from Maryland to Ohio State. I believe he wouldn’t have been able to have the same success there as he did with the Buckeyes, especially under tutelage of Meyer and Day.

Finally, we are now in the Ryan Day era. Day is the one who persuaded Justin Fields to come to Ohio State, after one season at Georgia. Do you think Tressel could have done the same? What about Fickell? Now, if it had been Fickell, who knows how long he would be coach? Who knows how successful he would’ve been? Who knows if he would’ve even BEEN the head coach following Tressel?

These assumptions are all just exactly what the title of this article is — “What If?”. It was fun to take a trip down memory lane and see how all of the puzzle pieces fit together, following the resignation of Jim Tressel and the whole scandal with Terrelle Pryor & the Tattoo Five. During that time, it was not the best time to be an Ohio State fan (okay, it’s always a great time to be a Buckeye fan), but ever since then, there is no better fan base to be a part of, in my humble, unbiased opinion.


Do you think Luke Fickell would have been the next HC after Jim Tressel?

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