It's a really cool idea and I'm excited to see the results...but I think you forgot to add them into your diary post. Cheers
[Edit: nevermind you're on top of it]
One of the pressing topics around the whole implosion of Ohio State University Football is how that team dominated the Big Ten illegally. The team won games they shouldn't, with the most obvious being the 2011 Sugar Bowl. Ohio State shouldn't have played as well in that game, and frankly shouldn't have been in it at all.
Everyone seems to be talking about what Ohio State's record books will look like when all this is done. Seasons getting voided, players getting wiped out, all of that.
With that in mind, I'd like to take a look back at what truly should have been. What seasons should have gone differently for the various schools tormented by Tressel? What teams got screwed out of bowl games, out of national championships, out of huge victories? There's many victims of Ohio State's illegal run besides us here in Ann Arbor.
Let's take a look back, year-by-year. Here are the basic ground rules to keep in mind:
- Ohio State wouldn't have realistically lost every game. At worst, they'd have been a version of the 2009-10 Wolverines: losing many games, but not completely out of it. So, close games in Columbus will now tip towards the visitor, and fairly close by the Buckeyes will also go towards their opponents. I'd assume that Ohio State would still be pretty good, just not great. Or, if they were amazing, simply great.
- I'm not going to go back to look for specific players, instead the entire team will be downgraded. Specifically, i don't want to wade through Ohio State game logs to figure out how much of an effect a replacement RB would have had over Maurice Clarett, for example.
- Except when it ties into Michigan, no frivolous extraneous circumstances. So, no jobs will be saved by a miracle win over the Buckeyes that leads to a random Big Ten coach keeping his job. I don't want to open up too much alternate history.
- I'm mainly focusing on the Big Ten championship race, and the national championship race, when applicable. No September non-conference wins that led to some opponent winning another conference.
- No recruiting alternate histories. The only players that would be added to different games are the guys that picked the school in the first place. This opens up one scenario later on. Existing transfers can still happen though. Ohio State gets the same general recruits they had before, only they are universally downgraded. The assumption is that Ohio State, even in bad times, would still get some great players, as they are Ohio State.
- Things in bold are major changes.
Okay, on to the games...
(More To Come tomorrow, as I do 2006-2010 then.)
It's a really cool idea and I'm excited to see the results...but I think you forgot to add them into your diary post. Cheers
[Edit: nevermind you're on top of it]
This is all you need to know:
From 2008-2011, OSU won 3 out of 4 recruiting battles. However, Michigan was in transition between coaching changes in two of those years. I am still waiting for the argument to surface that exposes OSU for illegal recruiting practices that gave them a competitive advantage. Everything after that is on the coaching staff. Tressel developed players better than Carr. Carr left Rodriguez with a bad offensive starting line-up. Rodriguez's system scared away the offensive talent and enabled 3-9. However you want to look at it, OSU's "competitive advantage" over us was minimal at best and for many years, non-existent.
I want to see OSU wins vacated for the sole purpose of OSU fans getting theres in regards to calling the Fab Five the "best basketball team that never existed". But reality is, they kicked our ass and everyone else's on the field. And Tressel did it without being the best team in his conference in recruiting. Unless you want to elaborate a hoax that he somehow convinced high schools and recruiting websites to downgrade recruits in exchange for cash/tattoos.
Furthermore, if you want to talk about "woulda, coulda, shoulda", OSU beat us with 7-5 and 8-4 teams when we had bigger things going for us. Give this up.
Tressel, as a human being was less than Carr. As a coach? Tressel > Carr. Rodriguez vs. Tressel? We will never know how that battle would have turned out had both been established coaches. As is, Tressel > Rodriguez.
From 2002-2007, UM won 4 out of 6 recruiting battles according to Rivals and 5 out of 6 according to Scout. In short, Tressel beat Michigan with less talent coming out of high school than Michigan had acquired.
There is no excuse for 1-6 and there is no excuse for 1-9.
If you want to wade through and try and decipher OSU's "competitive advantage" throughout the conference for Tressel's career, be my guest.
He kicked the Big Ten's ass and that is all there is to say. I find no solace in regards to our record in the Tressel era since the finding of the transgressions.
According to Rivals Rank (5*/4*) | Scout Rank (5*/4*)
OSU: 5 (3/14) | 3 (3/13)
UM: 16 (1/11) | 19 (1/8)
OSU: 41 (0/7) | 25 (1/6)
UM: 17 (2/11) | 8 (3/8)
OSU: 9 (1/9) | 11 (1/7)
UM: 5 (1/12) | 5 (1/9)
OSU: 12 (1/9) | 7 (3/8)
UM: 6 (1/10) | 2 (2/12)
OSU: 12 (2/8) | 12 (3/9)
UM: 13 (2/9) | 9 (5/5)
OSU: 15 (0/12) | 16 (1/10)
UM: 12 (2/5) | 10 (2/12)
OSU - Avg. Rank: 15.6 Total 5*: 7 Total 4*: 59
UM - Avg. Rank: 11.5 Total 5*: 8 Total 4*: 58
OSU - Avg. Rank: 12.3 Total 5*: 12 Total 4*: 53
UM - Avg. Rank: 8.8 Total 5*: 14 Total 4*: 55
I think we do have to face facts that on the field in both the Carr and Rodriguez years, Tressel outcoached our sideline.
What RR did was scare defensive talent away with the exception of NFL caliber wide receiver recruits who didn't want to spend their time blocking every play (from opposing teams recruiting coordinators)
We had zero continuity or NFL cred for studs on D. If we had a D our offense would have been even better. Can you imagine Denard with 5-7 more possesions a game if our D could get off the field in under 13 plays?
We have talent on O in very key positions.............depth is another issue in some areas.
I see what you are saying: Tressel brought in classes of recruits that were not head and shoulders above us in talent. So we shouldn't be able to say his "unethical" recruiting provided any advantage over us on the gridiron.
But I say Tressel was a terrible recruiter. While his players had talent, his ability to determine whether they had the character to follow the rules and keep themselves eligible was way below the standards of the B1G. Before anyone says "Michigan has recruited players like that too..." I would agree, but not only was there a huge disparity between Michigan and OSU in the number of recruits who were in violation. But also when our players were in violation they were promptly punished and taken off the field. (I don't think anyone could accuse Carr of hiding player violations)
So rather than have the normal number of players flame out (1 or 2 every year?) Tressel should have seen his team decimated every year as player after player was caught lying, cheating, wheeling and dealing.
Tressel was a great field general but he was deficient at evaluating recruits. His shortcomings as a coach were concealed by his willingness to hide violations from the NCAA. This is the advantage Tressel used to win games.
Tressel's game planning and execution on the field is not in question. Given an equal team in talent level: Tressel > Carr. But there is more to being a coach than leading a team on Saturday. Recruiting talented players who you think have enough character to follow the rules is a big part of job for a college coach. In this regard: Carr > Tressel.
And when you consider how close some of the games are that Carr lost, you can make the conclusion that even one player missing from the buckeyes sideline would have tilted the game toward Michigan. *cough* Troy Smith *cough*
So in conclusion I say yes; Tressel had a huge recruiting advatage in that he was able to target players strictly with an eye for talent. Whereas Carr was doing his best to recruit talented players with character.
If Tressel had actually suspended people for doing improper things that he had known about, the product on the field would have been reduced and therefore the team would have been worse. This is regardless of who was recruited. Since players like Clarett and Smith should have been suspended, they would not have been on the field and then you would've had backups in. Like Bowser, man.
Edit: Although I will say that we make the assumption that A. Tressel would have known all of this was going on all the time and B. That we are crossing our fingers and hoping no one on Michigan's team is receiving any kind of extra benefits whatsoever.
Dude, you need to chill out. Some coaches are better at recruiting. Some are better at coaching. Obviously it's how the two balance out. Doesn't take a genius to figure that out. If a coach who is better at coaching than recruiting is able to land more talent than he would have by cheating, than that is an unfair advantage. Even if he is a better game day coach.
For entertainment purposes only. I clicked thinking, "What's the point of this?!" After reading it, I thought it was a fun read. It's fiction, so bringing in all sorts of arguments about why something would or would not have happened is moot. It's not your alternative reality, it's Gordon's.
But we have no proof that they landed anyone by cheating.
Yet now we're saying they had a competitive advantage as if its something that started from Day One of the Tressel era and excuses all losses to OSU.
Call me when we find out the players took steroids or someone in a suit with Buckeye cuff links showed up to their house after Carr left with a black briefcase full of $100s.
To be fair, team talent is a result of both recruiting and retention, and there are arguments to be made that OSU's culture of violations aided both. If recruits knew that they would have far more latitude and would receive extra benefits, that might have aided recruiting. Also, if players would have been ruled ineligible for games or even seasons, that certainly affects the quality of the team taking the field. Also, had compliance or the NCAA found and addressed the violations earlier, there may have been some consequences that would have choked off OSU's dominance in its infancy.
Of course this is all speculation and conjecture. What matters now is that we kick their asses and make them pay for their cheating ways. As much as it sucks to be forced to wonder what could have been if they were on a level playing field, we have an opportunity to make up for it now. It would certainly be satisfying to run off a string of victories over them and show that once they were forced to play it straight, they were not dominant at all.
that TSIO loses at Penn State in 2003. 1 point difference on the road could swing to a road loss without ineligable players.
Michigan lost 2 games in 2006: one to OSU and one to USC. So I guess we actually went 11-0 that year. Let's go rush South U.
Interesting diary. I'm curious to see your assessments of the Pryor era, given that he had such a dominant record as a starter. Keep up the good work.
I have a small request - can you elaborate more on why you think the games would have changed? Particularly the seasons early in Tressel's career. For example, what is it about the 2001 season that you see changing to cause him to lose the Michigan and Minnesota games? I wouldn't think you'd see any impact for 2-3 seasons, but that's just my opinion.
There is no rationale provided at all for why games in your revisionist history have the outcomes that they do. in 2001, you picked Minnesota (and Michigan), why? Based on your writeup, it reads like "because I feel like that would work". Likewise in 2002, you pick Cinci (and Michigan, among two others) but you don't actually provide any compelling explanation for why those outcomes should have changed at all. I'd love to have seen us win those two games, but you don't actually have the foundation of any argument to make these proclamations.
would be which players would be missing and what stats would then also be missing? You can actually base that on facts and not just wistful desires.
It was a compelling read nonetheless.
One thing that stands out to me in your standings recap from 2002-2005 is how bad Illinois was pre-zook. 10 wins in 4 years? Holy crap. No wonder he's still employed.
if you're not considering alternative recruiting histories then none of the records would change. the violations didn't give osu an edge on the field, only a leg up in recruiting. i don't understand how not getting free tattoos and cars turns wins into losses otherwise.
Wouldn't they change, at least after year one, and maybe tapering off, as OSU noticed fancy cars and tats and actually suspended players for games?
If we are to believe boys will be boys, and take the handouts; and if in this alternate world, coaches and compliance were noticing, self reporting violations, and suspending players for the violations; then at least until the law was laid down, there would have been many suspended key players replaced by players with less game experience. So maybe by the time Troy Smith or Terrell Pryor come along, the word is out - don't go on the take. But early on, at least the Buckeyes would have been hampered. Maybe to the extent that Tressell doesn't make it.
Back on Carr - we did have player suspensions that occurred conveniently during less competitive games (Manningham as I recall). This is why Rodriguez suspending Hagerup for the OSU game really made a statement. (Oh, I forgot, to Rich OSU was just another game .... /s)
that's a good point, but it's also completely unquantifiable in terms of wins and losses. there's no way of knowing 1) which players would have gotten caught 2) when they would have been caught and 3) how long their suspensions would have been. the most likely effect seems like it would have been some minor suspensions much earlier followed by some sort of programmatic cleanup (ok, that might be a little generous given what we've learned from osu lately), followed by some slightly lower ranked recruiting classes. to say it swings all these close games is completely arbitrary.
If you exclude “alternate recruiting histories,” then Ohio State would have had the identical players. And none of their rule violations made them better at football. Terrelle Pryor didn’t become a better passer by selling his autograph.
Now, you could say that if Jim Tressel had reported the Tat 5 as soon as he knew of their violations, those players would have been suspended for some number of games during 2010. But their suspensions would likely have come at the beginning of the season, not the end of it, and in most of those games they would have been heavily favored anyway.
But beyond that, the only reason the Tat 5 scandal could happen was that Ohio State had a lax compliance department and a coach who looked the other way. If you assume a law-abiding Ohio State all along, that scandal probably never happens in the first place.
I think the only really interesting thing to come out of this is the potential effect of 2006 on UM and how it may have changed things. If Troy Smith was ineligible for 2006, UM probably wins that game and finishes an undefeated regular season and goes on to play Florida for the national championship. Would UM have fared better in that game than OSU, who knows. Had things played out that way, would Lloyd have retired after that season win or lose? Would we have seen an uptick in recruiting that would have left more talent on the team when Lloyd did eventually leave after 07? Would Lloyd have had more power to name his successor, or would there have been less of a desire to revamp the program, thus RR never happens? Yes, Tressel was already having success against UM and had won a national championship, but looking at the standings from 01-05, the programs were pretty much equally successful which remained true in 2006. Following the 06 game though, there was a drastic divergence between the programs. I think we all know that the 06 game was the hinge point of the last decade and I think that's the only true hypothetical worth considering.
that three of the games we lost through 05 were close ones, and say what if? I kind of take it for granted that recruiting guys who take the short cuts helps you on the field--and helped you get them on the field (including the knowledge they would be paid) and assume that translates to a few points.
And I think that--everything else being equal (which it is not)--if Lloyd has a couple more wins over OSU, a winning record, then we are looking on him in a different light. Some people regard xs and os more highly than I do, I'll admit. I'll take my lumps for it on what is essentially a football site, but I think it could have something to do with how invested you are in the rest of the university, and its integrity, as I think that Lloyd (without being a saint) was.
Were games with Clarett and Troy Smith, who we KNOW took stuff (and suspect took far more), playing a big part on those teams, it certainly could swing things...
The only thing I have to disagree with you about though is 2001, maybe I'm being foolish but I don't think Tressel/OSU had any illegal players that year. That team was basically all Cooper's players and I just doubt any of them were dirty. Pretty much agree with you on the records for the other games, maybe a bit more elaboration would be nice (possibly a future-future post?)
I don't get it. Why is OSU struggling? In 2002, you've got an identical OSU team (you mentioned Clarett) losing four games instead of winning the national title. Is this just a portrait of what you would have liked to have happend?
Seriously, what is your premise? If all the same players and coaches are on the team, why are they losing several more games each season?
this is an incredibly long exercise in futility....
I haven't seen so much work go into a fruitless exercise since Charlie Weis stopped eating carbs.
I don't think us playing LSU in the Sugar Bowl in 2001 would have been as great as you think. Before the RichRod years, 2001 was unique to me in the fact that we looked worse and worse every week. When it was announced that we would be playing Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl, my first reaction was, "Crap!" Any other year I would have said, "bring them on!" But not in 01. With that said, it still annoyed me big time to see Illinois crowned Big Ten champs after we destroyed them at the Big House. We could have made it 52-20 in the final minute but Carr decided to call off the dogs and we took a couple knees at the 10 yard line.
LSU and us were going completely different directions throughout that season so I certainly wouldn't have wanted to play them in any bowl game.
There's too much "what if," in this diary. It pretty much just reminded me how extremely fortunate OSU was to barely escape crappy teams so many times in 02 and 03.
That Tennessee matchup may be the worst bowl matchup on paper Michigan has ever had. That was an excellent Tennessee team going up against a thoroughly meh Michigan team. That Illinois team making it to the Sugar Bowl shows how down the conference was--and Michigan still struggled.
You had a Michigan team that probably deserved a lower bowl but for the fact that the Big Ten was so bad that year, and a Vols team that completely biffed a game they shouldn't have, and probably should have been at least playing for the National Title that year.
And even I'll say it didn't help that we decided our best strategy was try and slow down and muck up the game vs. their speed, rather than just let it all hang out and let the chips fall where they may. It couldn't have been any worse.
This gets really tough since no one knows how long Tressel would have kept the job, what later years would have looked like with even less talent and potentially a different coach. It just sucks that the cheater owned UM during his stay. Those pissed off memories can't be undone by anything. I have holes punched in walls to prove they happened.
After going 0-3 vs. us, with lackluster records to boot, Tressel would probably have been out of there.
The other problems I have is that it's labeled that Iowa would "then" be Big Ten champs in 2002, when they were already, and Clarett really left because of his troubles more than a desire to jump to the pros right away. So I don't know that he'd have been back in any regard.
Unlike some, I do find these scenarios kind of fun brain teasers, even if not really based in anything. I'd just like to see a little more detail to it.
I guess I fail to see where all the commenters are unable to grasp the premise, at least as I see it.
The basics are that if tOSU missed out on just a couple of their players who we choose to assume played there due to the millionaire lifestyle they wouldn't get anywhere else in the big ten, the close games those types of players presumably kept them in would have gone the other way.
The idea is that just one player that didnt enroll there could have changed history seems really clear to me. Remove just Troy Smith, and how does Carr's record vs Tressel look now?
This is just a light look at the records that might have changed in games OSU won by one score or less that might have been different if some of the players had gone to another school for the free stuff, as in this make believe exercise, OSU wasnt handing uot illegal bonuses like candy.
Without a reason why, it's really tough to make sense of this argument. If Clarett was the worst offender/best player in 2002, why does his presense in 2002 (and revisionist in 03/04) make OSU much worse? Was he not willing to run as hard if he didn't get loaner cars?
if Clarett had been adequately monitored by OSU, he would have been suspended as an eligible player far earlier, and therefore may not have played. The same with Troy Smith. Because, we suspect OSU either turned a blind eye all together, or wore blinders when investigating the infractions they could not ignore, we then surmise that these players were ineligible earlier, and therefore an honest OSU would not have played them.
No Troy Smith in 2006, and it is a totally different game. OSU plays a pro-style game with an immobile Boeckman. An offense that our defense is totally set up for.
Read the diary again. He basically just says things didn't work out as well in '02 for OSU, so they lost four games, but Clarett is set up as a Heisman contender for the next season.
Someone else put it really well, he basically reduced OSU's PPG by seven, but made no real changes otherwise.
I think this could have been an interesting read if it started with your premise of "miss[ing] out on a just a couple of their players," and suggesting a revised history based thereon.
For example, it might be possible to identify a few players (you mention Troy Smith) and create an argument that they would not have chosen OSU if not for certain oddities in their recruitment.
Next, a closer inspection as to the impact those selected players had on close games throughout the decade could substantiate the change in outcomes.
While equally theoretical, it might seem a more rewarding and interesting exercise than what currently reads as "here's what the world would have been like if OSU had scored 7 fewer points per game."
well, theres my first double post.....yay me.
augh. nothing follows.
sorry but, tt would have been better if you had just flipped a coin to decide the outcomes
The opinion piece below argues that UM should have played Florida for the title in in 2006 and probably would have won (as they did in 2007).
Briefly, OSU would not have qualified due to to ineligible players--and would almost certainly have lost to UM in the already very close game in Columbus.
The argument against UM in 2006 had always been that they later lost to USC in the Rose Bowl. However, at that time, USC was also had ineligible players. So, that argument now seems invalid.
Whether we would have beat Florida for the national title can still be argued. However, we did beat them on their home turf the next year in 2007. I am not sure what players that both teams lost between 2006-7, but Florida did have back their Heisman winning qb, Tebow.
Tressel had just taken over in mid-Jan, and this is saying off the bat that he improperly recruited players that played in the 2001 season, which I find hard to believe. My guess is that most of that team was already recruited by Cooper.
And the 2001 UM game would have pretty much the same result, that was really a poorly played game by Michigan.
that's my thinking. Tressell pretty much had to use the plays Cooper had left over and the incoming freshmen Cooper had recruited. I don't really see OSU's 2001 season being much different.
UM vs LSU: not sure this would have been a good game. Up until the OSU game, I might argue that this was one of Carr's best coaching jobs. The team really wasn't that talented - the players that were the core of the 2003 team were young and inexperienced in 2001. A Sugar Bowl match up against LSU might not have been the beat down that UM experienced against Tennessee but I don't think it would have been that good of a game.
What an awful diary. You should have called it "Michigan's Adventures in LaLa land" or "A Highly Selective Alternate History Based on Personal Fandom."