Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Coach Sweater Vest, Coach Jags and the Dude from Miami (Fla.)

I've got a friend who absolutely loves Ohio State football coach Jim "Sweater Vest" Tressel (you know who you are, John, go ahead and stand). For anyone who hasn't seen the Buckeyes play in the eight seasons of the Tressel era, the coach always dons a scarlet (read: red) sweater vest, along with his smartly starched white button up shirt and scarlet and gray tie. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of the sweater vest in and of itself, just not this coach who must have a whole closet full.

Now, it's difficult to argue with the results. Ohio State won the national championship in 2001 and has absolutely owned its biggest rival, Michigan, since Tressel arrived on campus. My issues with the coach stem from an exchange we had back in my days as a sports writer, when he smugly answered my question about his conservative offense and reliance on field goals. "That's how we play at Ohio State," he said with a look of superiority.

Fine. As the saying goes, Tressel has forgotten more about football than I'll ever know. He has completely restored his program to where it was during the days of the late Woody Hayes, and some might argue he has taken it even further. It doesn't mean I have to agree with all his tactics.

That conservative nature? Well, maybe if the Buckeyes hadn't settled for field goals on three trips across midfield in Monday's Fiesta Bowl (sorry, TOSTITOS Fiesta Bowl), the Texas Longhorns wouldn't have been able to make the thrilling comeback. Nine points wasn't going to do it against Texas, and even a couple of late touchdowns wasn't enough to save Ohio State.

Another move by Coach Sweater Vest that completely annoyed me was the muzzle he put on freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor, the Buckeye's starting quarterback. When every other starter attended media day except Pryor, Tressel explained that he felt his QB would be better served watching film. (As an aside, seriously, why keep calling it "film?" No one watches "film" anymore, it's all digital now.) Apparently, Pryor watched a lot of TAPE in the days leading up to the game, since he apparently wasn't available a single time for reporters.

My good friend (again, John, take a bow) would point out that Tressel is trying to protect Pryor from the vultures in the media, men and women who would love to get him to provide some "bulletin-board" material for the opponent. Certainly, Tressel has the authority to do whatever he wants with his players, legally, but I would think he would be better served "protecting" Pryor and others from unscrupulous agents and alumni. ("Need any money for the weekend, Maurice Clarett?")

College is supposed to be a learning experience, and Pryor would get more out of it by dealing with the questions. Likely, he's savvy enough to avoid saying anything derogatory about an opponent, but so what if he does? Live and learn. Isn't that what being a teenager and a college student is all about?

Which brings me to another winner of the coaching fraternity, Boston College's Jeff Jagodzinski. By the time you read this (anyone out there?), Coach Jags might be "former Boston College coach." He was told by his athletic director, Gene DeFilippo, that if he interviewed with the New York Jets he wouldn't be welcomed back in Chesnut Hill. Well, apparently Jagodzinski did just that, so if he doesn't get hired by New York, or New Jersey, or whatever you want to call the Jets, he likely will be looking for work.

Good for BC. It's about time a college stood up to one of these coaches who always are looking for a better gig. Coach Jags was two years into a five-year contract, but now because the NFL might come calling, he wants to abandon his players, his staff and the Eagles fans. Hopefully, DeFilippo sticks to his position and finds someone who would love to have what turns out to be a pretty good job.

Of course, a coach can love his job and his team a little too much. At Miami, coach Randy Shannon (who unfortunately doesn't have a catchy nickname) knew quarterback Robert Marve wanted to transfer, and Shannon agreed to release the second-year player. Oh, but he wanted to restrict where Marve could go, since the last thing you'd want is a former player going to another school in your conference and returning to deliver a beat down.

Initially, there were 27 schools on this list (but apparently none in Canada) before the athletic department, swamped by a public outcry, softened its stance somewhat. Now he can't transfer to any school in the Atlantic Coast Conference or any Football Bowl Subdivision school in the state of Florida. He can look to the Southeastern Conference, just not Tennessee, Florida or LSU.

Nice going, coach Shannon. Way to alienate recruits all over the country, not to mention some players already in your program. Of course, he might not be the one behind this move, but as the public face of football for the Hurricanes, he should feel the full brunt of our disdain.

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