Amid Chaotic Landscape, Buckeyes Stay Stable

Since their 2007 regular seasons have ended, 13 college football programs in the NCAA's top division have found themselves looking for new head coaches. One place that is not doing so is Ohio State, where players say the consistent atmosphere under head coach Jim Tressel is one of the keys to OSU's success.

For many retailers across the country, the Friday after Thanksgiving is known as "Black Friday." For online stores, Monday was "Cyber Monday," a day in which consumers were to stay out of long lines in stores and instead wait for download times to catch up as they ordered goods online.

However, in the college football world, Monday was "Black Monday," the day in which many college football coaches were informed that they were not expected back at their jobs for the 2008 season. With many schools' seasons reaching their endpoints over the holiday weekend, Monday was the first time in which a clear decision could be made about the future of programs.

A full 13 coaches – more than 10 percent of Division Football Bowl Subdivision bosses – have seen their tenures end since Nov. 19, many of them on Monday. Of those 13, only Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr could be seen as having resigned on his own without pressure from the university, pressure that could have come had he not made his preemptive strike of resignation after a hugely disappointing 8-4 season that culminated with Michigan's fourth straight loss to Ohio State.

Meanwhile, Ohio State is in nearly the opposite situation. Head coach Jim Tressel recently completed his seventh regular season with a record of 73-15, good for a .830 winning percentage. For the fifth time in his tenure, the Buckeyes will be heading to a Bowl Championship Series bowl, whether it be the Rose Bowl or the BCS National Championship Game.

So it's not hard to believe that many of the Buckeye players say they can't imagine what the players in other programs are going through when it comes to a coaching change.

"It would probably suck, to be honest with you," said center Jim Cordle. "You have to earn your status again for these coaches. To learn a whole new system would be the hardest part, probably, and then you'd have to adjust to your new position coach."

Cordle's quotes underline one of the true attributes of Tressel's staff since the Berea, Ohio, native took over: stability. Not only does Tressel nearly always show a calm, stable countenance, his program has taken on the aura of the coach: always on a solid even keel, rarely rocked by any disturbance.

As a result, turnover on Tressel's staff has not always been a constant. Many of his assistants, such as Tim Spencer, Mel Tucker, Mark Dantonio, Mark Snyder and Tim Beckman, have moved on to bigger and better things.

However, there is still a contingent that joined Tressel for his first season of 2001 and has stayed to this day that includes offensive coordinator Jim Bollman, quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Joe Daniels and defensive coordinator Jim Heacock. The only coach on the staff who is not in at least his third season in 2007 was first-year cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson.

"(Stability) definitely helps every aspect of our program because guys kind of get accustomed to certain things," captain Kirk Barton said. "Coach Tressel, the way he works, the way he acts, the way he's loyal to his assistants. We don't have a lot of turnover on our staff because most guys realize this is the place to be. There's not a better college job out there, unless you're obviously going from, like, a position coach to a coordinator."

That consistency in the way things are done – players rarely have to worry about their routines or sessions disrupted – has helped the Buckeye players in their quest to improve their skills.

"As you go through the (OSU) program, you grow mentally and physically and in every part of your life," Cordle said. "A lot of coaches can bring in top talent, but then how do they progress? How do they make them better?"

Obviously, no current Buckeye players have had to undergo a head coaching change during their tenures at Ohio State. Of course, many did at the high school level. One of those is Cordle, whose high school coach at Lancaster (Ohio) Fisher Catholic was fired after his sophomore year of play.

"I ended up transferring to Lancaster (High School)," Cordle said. "That was one of the reasons I transferred. Coaching changes are hard for a team. The only time I had to deal with it, I ended up transferring out."

With the pressure to win mounting, it's not hard to understand why so many programs are making changes. But a quick look at what Ohio State has been able to accomplish would set a pretty good example at what can happen when stability is allowed to take root.

"(A coaching change) affects so many different aspects," James Laurinaitis said. "The new guy has to come in and win over the current players, they have to win over so much with the boosters and the alumni and things of that nature, and they have to assure recruits that the guy before was recruiting that, ‘Hey, this is going to be stable for a while.'

"I'm glad I'm in a situation where I don't have to go through that."


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