You just gotta look at the big picture…Ohio State has turned out a number of good assistant coaches, some of whom are still "assisting" the Buckeyes. Some of those are now Head Coaches. And that's where the Big Picture gets interesting.
One of those interesting guys is Walt Harris of Pitt. Walt was once a quarterback coach for OSU and once the odds-on favorite to replace John Cooper before Tressel was offered the job. Saturday, Walt repaid any of the debt he still owed OSU by beating Virginia Tech, thereby eliminating the Hokies from the Fiesta Bowl chase (what do you think – should we stay at the Camelback or go all the way and spring for The Phoenician?).
And then there's Ron Zook, another graduate of the OSU School of Coaching. He saved the Buckeyes (and perhaps his job…) by having his Gators knock off those pesky undefeated Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday at The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (and is it windy in the desert in January?).
We can't forget Glen Mason at Minnesota, of course. He played and coached for Woody at OSU and then assisted Earle Bruce. Glen campaigned openly for the OSU Head Coaching job two years ago. He showed that the trustees made a good choice as his Golden Gophers went down meekly to the Buckeyes 34-3 on Saturday (does Roy's still serve that sushi-grade tuna and is it too early to make a reservation?)
Larry Coker? Another former assistant for the Bucks. He's never lost at Miami (and never been a head coach before, either…) and I posit that his OSU coaching background is a perfect set-up for Coach Coke to inevitably drop a game and let the Bucks squeeze into the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe. While Bob Stoops, the Oklahoma boss is an Ohio guy; I'm not counting on any of his help. Notre Dame didn't need any influence to help us as they discovered what the rest of us knew all along; they don't have an offense!
Now then, which assistant coach actually did us the most good this past Saturday? No doubt about it – our own assistant coach, Mark Dantonio, headman of our DaFense. Everyone keeps talking about how startling this OSU defense is; and how the halftime adjustments are almost clairvoyant; and how the "D" just gets better every game, but did you know:
1) We gave up only seven yards in the second half to Minnesota, and only one first down? This is against a Gopher team ranked #6 (previously, that is…) in the nation for rushing offense, averaging over 270 yards a game. Against OSU, they got 53!
2) Minnesota's Terry Jackson and Thomas Tapeh had both bettered 100 yards per game in each of the last three games. And Jackson had back-to-back 200-yard games. He rushed for only 49 yards on 16 tries against OSU. Tapeh got but 32.
3) The UM quarterback, Asad Abdul-Khaliq, was leading the Big Ten QB's in rushing average. He rang up a total of -15 yards against the Silver Bullets.
4) Minnesota got seven first downs against the Buckeyes. The week before, Penn State had eight. These are two nationally ranked teams we are talking about! In fact, the OSU defense has only allowed one touchdown since the 1:55 mark of the second quarter against Wisconsin – three games and ten quarters!
So, our assistant Coach D has his D playing at a level that makes me think about (but not booking my trip just yet) spending January 3 with my beloved Buckeyes in Tempe (do you think I can get a tee-time at Troon or Greyhawk this early?)
And speaking, finally, of the interesting parallel world of Football Geography, I pose another topic for your consideration: Check out this week's Always Perplexing poll ("AP" to the uninitiated). Virginia Tech lost to unranked Pitt and dropped four places in the poll. The week before, we beat ranked Penn State and dropped two spots! Huh?
That's yet another reason I haven't booked my Fiesta Bowl flight…