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Unpopular Opinion: Give me the Tressel Era over the Meyer Era

For all of the detractors, he Jim Tressel Era was among my favorite.

NCAA Football - Texas vs Ohio State - September 10, 2005 Photo by Jamie Mullen/Getty Images

From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about what we would do if we were in charge of our favorite position group, team, conference, or sport. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all our “Unpopular Opinion” articles here.

Comparison is the thief of joy...” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Confession time here. When I first read the theme of this week’s articles for “Unpopular Opinions”, it was challenging for me. I have been a lifelong resident of Ohio, and can recall Ohio State football going back to the Earle Bruce regime.

With that being written, I have decided to take on the what I believe to be an Unpopular Opinion of enjoying the Jim Tressel Era more than the Urban Meyer Era. Both were successful, yet I will happily reflect upon what it was like when Tressel was the head coach of Ohio State. Below are three specific things I believe most Ohio State fans would remember about the 2001-2010 seasons...

  1. Tressel turned around the rivalry with “That Team Up North”

Before any Urban Meyer fans point out how Meyer’s teams went 7-0 against the Wolverines, remember what I wrote up above — both were successful. As someone who painfully lived through the 1988-2000 seasons that saw Ohio State go 2-10-1, it is difficult to describe what it was like to hear these words from Jim Tressel as he was introduced as Ohio State’s new football coach back on Jan. 18, 2001...

The mere fact that, finally, Ohio State had a coach who gets it, was exhilarating. The sheer joy that Ohio State went up to Ann Arbor, with Craig Krenzel starting at quarterback in place of the suspended Steve Bellisari, only added to Tressel’s stature.

I give credit to Urban Meyer for going undefeated against the Wolverines. Like Coach Tressel, he “got it.” I simply give the greater credit to Coach Tressel for finally getting Ohio State past the considerably ample mental block that plagued them for 13 seasons.

2. Ohio State’s 2002 National Championship was its first since 1968

I realize that Ohio Stadium has a sign in the stadium for the 1970 national championship. For those of who you may not know, Nebraska was actually awarded the national championship by the AP, while Ohio State was awarded the national championship by the National Football Foundation. NFF awarded Ohio State that national championship before the Buckeyes played in, and lost, 27-17 to Stanford in The Rose Bowl.

The reason I bring this is up is Jim Tressel helped lead Ohio State to a national championship for the first time in 34 years. After so many years of getting ever so close throughout the 1970s under Woody Hayes, the 1979 season under Earle Bruce, and several heartbreaking losses to Michigan in the 1990s under John Cooper, Tressel finally got Ohio State back to the promised land.

Yes, Urban Meyer won Ohio State a national title in 2014, and I celebrated it happily. I will simply say that the first national championship, after so many heartbreaks in previous years, tasted even sweeter under Jim Tressel. Even Coach Tressel made a point to the 2002 national championship team when they had their 20 year reunion last year, about how Ohio State is now expected to compete for national championships as a result of the 2002 team.

3. Tressel began the tradition of singing “Carmen, Ohio” after games in 2001

This last one may seem on the nitpicky side of things, but Tressel quickly made it a point to teach his players to embrace a new tradition of singing “Carmen, Ohio” after games. It has become so commonplace that many fans seem to think that this was always the case after the games, when it was Jim Tressel who started it his first season in 2001. Urban Meyer and Ryan Day have thankfully maintained the tradition that Jim Tressel began.

Watch this video, and around 5:00 minutes into it, Coach Tressel points out how the tradition began, as well as beginning the tradition of bringing the team to The Skull Session before games...