Cleat Geeks

Is this the ‘Golden Age’ of Ohio State Football?

WoodyHayesOkay, I must admit. I was too young for the 80’s and only really became a fan of College Football and Ohio State in the early-to-mid 90’s. By that time, the likes of Woody Hayes and Archie Griffin were long gone and there were six national championships I never did witness.

There was also a span from 1974-2001 where the Buckeyes did not record a single undefeated season. That, I did witness (partly) first hand, as my beloved Buckeyes often had strong teams only to lose to one of those teams up North (Michigan or Michigan State) or get lambasted by the Nittany Lions.

The John Cooper Era is the time I grew up in and as good of a recruiter as he was, the Arizona State man never really grasped the meaning of ‘The Rivalry’ to its full extent – even regarding it as “just another game”. Maybe this mindset is the very reason behind his 2-10-1 record versus the Wolverines while Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer have a combined record of 11-1 after embracing it.

Thankfully, the relatively unknown coach from Youngstown State came in and changed the culture of a program rich in history. Tressel came to Columbus and, in just two seasons, did something that had not been done in 32 years. Ohio had always been a hotbed for football talent, but it was Tressel’s ability to get players motivated and perform to their potential that set him apart from Cooper. Following the 2002 National Championship, Tressel led the Buckeyes to the BCS Championship Game two more times – 2006 and 2007 – coming up short both times.

But, it’s really not about the losses. His ability to put Ohio State back on the map allowed for College Football’s newest rockstar, Urban Meyer, to have that desire to return home to Central Ohio and build off the foundation his predecessor had laid down. Meyer was unable to match Tressel’s second year National Championship, but got it done in three instead. Now, as we quickly approach the start of the 2015 season, my question is: Years from now, will football historians refer to this time period as Ohio State’s ‘Golden Age’?


Years Overall
AP Top 10
2 6-8 10 2 2
0 5-9 4 0 1
2 8-6 10 2 1


From the time of my birth, in 1984, to the hiring of Jim Tressel, in 2001, the Buckeyes tallied a record of 146-56-5 (0.705) in that 17-year span. They collected just five bowl victories in 14 tries and missed out on bowl season altogether four times. Furthermore, they finised the season ranked in the AP Top 10 four times, recorded 0 National Championships, and won the Heisman Trophy just once (Eddie George).

Compare that to the 17-year span preceeding my birth (1967-1983) with the days of Woody Hayes and the early part of Earle Bruce’s tenure. This time frame saw a record of 151-36-3 (0.795), two undefeated seasons, and six bowl victories in 14 attempts. Woody Hayes was able to bring in two National Championships – 1968, 1970 – and two Heisman Trophys (Archie Griffin) – 1974, 1975. Ohio State also finished within the AP Top 10 ten times during this span.

Terrelle+TresselNow, we are currently entering the 15th year of the next 17-year span. This time, beginning with Jim Tressel’s tenure, the Buckeyes have enjoyed extreme success. Since 2001, Ohio State has recorded 150 wins to 32 losses (0.824), two undefeated seasons, and eight bowl victories in 14 tries. Both Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer added a National Championship, while Tressel and Troy Smith came together to win a Heisman Trophy in 2006. During this span, the Buckeyes have finished within the AP Top 10 during those 14 seasons 10 times.

Based on win percentages alone, you can deduce that the days of Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer have exceeded any part of Buckeye history. Some critics will point to the idea that the Big Ten is down and that’s the reasoning behind their success. However, I do not see it that way. How many times a year do we see upsets across the College Football landscape? How many times has the #1 team in the country lost when they were favored to win? Why, then, would this not hold true in the Big Ten Conference?

It’s because the Buckeyes are beating teams they are supposed to beat. It’s because, with their current run of success, other fanbases try to knock them off their pedastal with their words. This success has come from two coaches knowing how to motivate and develop talented athletes while forming a brotherhood of trust, not because ALL of their opponents are significantly less talented or less prepared.

Some may argue the Woody Hayes Era was the best considering his five National Championships, but that was before the days of science-based weight training programs and prior to the specialization within the sport. It was also during a time of playing teams like the Oregon Webfoots. I don’t take any of his accomplishments away from him, but today is a completely different era. The competition and skill level is at an all-time high, and that simply was not the case in the 50’s and 60’s.

urbanMeyer2We (fans) are watching history before our eyes, so don’t blink, it may be over before you know it. Everything is cyclical – including you, global warming! Urban Meyer will likely be at the helm for another decade, but after that, the replacement is anyone’s guess. Fortunately for us, Ohio State will always be a blueblood program with the power to resonate throughout the country because of coaches like Hayes, Tressel and Meyer.

Meyer has found success everywhere he has been and winning at Ohio State was his ultimate goal. He achieved this goal in three years time and now is playing with house money. The future is bright and recruits have been taking notice. Top recruiting classes and Championships have only begun under Meyer and it is already said he will sit beside and be immortalized next to his idol – the late, great Woody Hayes – on Ohio State’s coaching Mount Rushmore.

We are living in the ‘Golden Age’ of Ohio State football. Are you with me?

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