What Should We All Have Had From 2001-10?

Submitted by Gordon on June 9th, 2011 at 12:36 AM

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...


Ohio State's actual schedule
Sep 8 Akron            W  28-14
Sep22 at UCLA          L   6-13
Sep29 at Indiana       W  27-14
Oct 6 Northwestern     W  38-20
Oct13 Wisconsin        L  17-20
Oct20 San Diego State  W  27-12
Oct27 at Penn State    L  27-29
Nov 3 at Minnesota     W  31-28
Nov10 Purdue           W  35-9
Nov17 Illinois         L  22-34
Nov24 at Michigan      W  26-20
Jan 1 South Carolina   L  28-31 (Outback Bowl)
Ohio State's revised schedule
Sep 8 Akron            W
Sep22 at UCLA          L
Sep29 at Indiana       W
Oct 6 Northwestern     W
Oct13 Wisconsin        L
Oct20 San Diego State  W
Oct27 at Penn State    L
Nov 3 at Minnesota     L
Nov10 Purdue           W
Nov17 Illinois         L
Nov24 at Michigan      L
A rough start for Jim Tressel.  As he takes over a program in crisis, he can only manage five wins, dropping Ohio State out of bowl contention.  Games that were turned into losses were a squeaker win at Minnesota, and the season finale at Michigan.  Both wins cause great concern going into the offseason, as the pressure builds for 2002.
Actual Big Ten standings
#12 Illinois        7–1 10–2
#20 Michigan        6–2  8–4
    Ohio State      5–3  7–5
    Iowa            4–4  7–5
    Purdue          4–4  6–6
    Indiana         4–4  5-6
    Penn State      4–4  5–6
    Michigan State  3–5  7–5
    Wisconsin         3–5  5–7
    Minnesota         2–6  4–7
    Northwestern    2–6 4–7
Revised Big Ten standings
# 8 Michigan        7–1  9–3
#10 Illinois        7–1 10–2
    Iowa            4–4  7–5
    Purdue          4–4  6–6
    Indiana         4–4  5-6
    Penn State      4–4  5–6
    Michigan State  3–5  7–5
    Minnesota       3–5  5–6
    Wisconsin       3–5  5–7
    Ohio State      3–5  5–7
    Northwestern    2–6 4–7
Under this new history, Michigan and Illinois would have shared the Big Ten championship in 2001, and Michigan would have represented the conference in the BCS (thanks to a victory over Illinois).  That year, since the Wolverines wouldn't have contended for the national title, Michigan would play LSU in the Sugar Bowl (like Illinois did).  Since both Michigan and LSU pasted Illinois by similar scores during the season, it would've been a good game.
There were no national changes.  Both Miami and Nebraska had no contact with Ohio State during the season in any way.
Ohio State's actual schedule
Aug24 Texas Tech        W 45-21
Sep 7 Kent State        W 51-17
Sep14 Washington State  W 25-7
Sep21 at Cincinnati     W 23-19
Sep28 Indiana           W 45-17
Oct 5 at Northwestern   W 27-16
Oct12 San Jose State    W 50-7
Oct19 at Wisconsin      W 19-14
Oct26 Penn State        W 13-7
Nov 2 Minnesota         W 34-3
Nov 9 at Purdue         W 10-6
Nov16 at Illinois       W 23-16
Nov23 Michigan          W 14-9
Jan 3 Miami             W 31-24 (Fiesta Bowl NC)
Ohio State's revised schedule
Aug24 Texas Tech        W
Sep 7 Kent State        W
Sep14 Washington State  W
Sep21 at Cincinnati     L
Sep28 Indiana           W
Oct 5 at Northwestern   W
Oct12 San Jose State    W
Oct19 at Wisconsin      W
Oct26 Penn State        L
Nov 2 Minnesota         W
Nov 9 at Purdue         L
Nov16 at Illinois       W
Nov23 Michigan          L
Jan 1 Auburn            W (Capital One Bowl)
Here's where things get interesting.  Yes, Ohio State does have a rebound year in 2002.  Unfortunately, it's not as glorious of one.  The Buckeyes end the season at 9-4, playing on New Year's Day against Auburn, where they beat the Tigers.  To start the season, Ohio State was picked to rapidly improve, and the team hit all their reasonable targets, except for a letdown upset in Cincinnati.  In that game, only a late interception gave Ohio State the original win, so I made that a loss this time around.  Also, the Krenzel bomb on 4th down can't set up a win against Purdue, Penn State ends up being solid enough to beat the Buckeyes, and a Michigan juggernaut pulls out a close one in Columbus.  Other than that, Jim Tressel gets nine wins, Maurice Clarett becomes a Heisman hopeful for future seasons (as he's not dominating enough to get any pro ideas), and Ohio State becomes a team right on the brink of winning a big one.
Actual Big Ten standings
# 1 Ohio State      8–0 14–0
# 8 Iowa            8–0 11–2
# 9 Michigan        6–2 10–3
#16 Penn State      5–3  9–4
    Purdue          4–4  7–6
    Illinois        4–4  5–7
    Minnesota       3–5  8–5
    Wisconsin       2–6  8–6
    Michigan State  2–6  4–8
    Northwestern    1–7  3–9
    Indiana         1–7  3–9
Revised Big Ten standings
# 4 Iowa            8–0 11–2
# 6 Michigan        7–1 11–2
#12 Penn State      6–2 10–3
    Purdue          5–3  8–5
#20 Ohio State      5–3 11–3
    Illinois        4–4  5–7
    Minnesota       3–5  8–5
    Wisconsin       2–6  8–6
    Michigan State  2–6  4–8
    Northwestern    1–7  3–9
    Indiana         1–7  3–9
The big winner here is Iowa.  The Hawkeyes become the 2002 Big Ten champions, and cause a huge logjam at the top of the BCS standings.  Iowa would go on to play Washington State in the Rose Bowl, and Michigan would go on to play future rival USC in the Orange Bowl, taking Ohio State's BCS spot.  Penn State would move up to the Outback Bowl, and Ohio State would settle for the Capital One Bowl.
Nationally, Miami becomes the consensus #1 team in the nation as the last undefeated power.  However, there suddenly becomes a controversy over who is the #2 team.  The Georgia Bulldogs play for the national title.  As they were originally the #3 team in the country, Georgia uses a win in the SEC Championship Game to vault over fellow one-loss Iowa to play for the national championship.  In the end though, the Miami Hurricanes are 2002 National Champions.
Ohio State's actual schedule
Aug30 Washington       W 28-9
Sep 6 San Diego State  W 16-13
Sep13 NC State         W 44-38 3OT
Sep20 Bowling Green    W 24-17
Sep27 Northwestern     W 20-0
Oct11 at Wisconsin     L 10-17
Oct18 Iowa             W 19-10
Oct25 at Indiana       W 35-6
Nov 1 at Penn State    W 21-20
Nov 8 Michigan State   W 33-23
Nov15 Purdue           W 16-13 OT
Nov22 at Michigan      L 21-35
Jan 2 Kansas State     W 35-28 (Fiesta Bowl)
Ohio State's revised schedule
Aug30 Washington       W
Sep 6 San Diego State  W
Sep13 NC State         L
Sep20 Bowling Green    W
Sep27 Northwestern     W
Oct11 at Wisconsin     L
Oct18 Iowa             W
Oct25 at Indiana       W
Nov 1 at Penn State    W
Nov 8 Michigan State   W
Nov15 Purdue           W
Nov22 at Michigan      L
Jan 1 Georgia          L (Capital One Bowl)
Looking at Ohio State's schedule, the 2003 Buckeyes had so many games that they just barely won.  It's really quite amazing that they even managed the actual season that they did.  With that in mind, there's only one other loss I could tack onto this season, what was a triple-OT win over North Carolina State.  Triple-OT is close enough to fall the other way, even if this team now has Maurice Clarett.  Other wins that could come into question were ones over Purdue, Penn State, and San Diego State.  Again, I'm trusting that Clarett would've given them a little bit more of an edge to compensate for what I'm taking away.  Tressel would still play in January, only in Orlando, instead of in the BCS.
Of course, Maurice Clarett is still a total bonehead, and leaves college for the NFL draft after the season.
Actual Big Ten standings
# 6 Michigan        7–1 10–3
# 4 Ohio State      6–2 11–2
#18 Purdue          6–2 9–4
# 8 Iowa            5–3 10–3
#20 Minnesota       5–3 10–3
    Michigan State  5–3 8–5
    Wisconsin       4–4 7–6
    Northwestern    4–4 6–7
    Penn State      1–7 3–9
    Indiana         1–7 2–10
    Illinois        0–8 1–11
Revised Big Ten standings
# 6 Michigan        7–1 10–3
#16 Ohio State      6–2 10–3
#18 Purdue          6–2 9–4
# 8 Iowa            5–3 10–3
#20 Minnesota       5–3 10–3
    Michigan State  5–3 8–5
    Wisconsin       4–4 7–6
    Northwestern    4–4 6–7
    Penn State      1–7 3–9
    Indiana         1–7 2–10
    Illinois        0–8 1–11
Michigan wins the Big Ten in 2003, just like in real life.  The last game of the season, as per tradition, ultimately decides the title, as Chris Perry wins the running back battle over Clarett.
The big change here is Ohio State's national ranking.  That loss to NC State proved to be a constant weight on the season, dragging down the Buckeyes.  By not beating Michigan for the conference championship, Ohio State drops out of BCS consideration.  The Buckeyes' spot in the BCS goes to Tennessee, the second-place finisher in the SEC.  The Volunteers defeat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, just like Ohio State did.
Nationally, there is no effect on the controversial split title.  LSU beats Oklahoma in the official title game, while #1 ranked USC defeats Michigan in the Rose Bowl.  Ultimately, Michigan couldn't vault into that top-two due to Ohio State's subpar performance, and the Wolverines couldn't get part of the split title with their loss.  A rivalry begins to develop between Michigan and USC, with two straight bowl games.  LSU and USC are still national champions for 2003.
Ohio State's actual schedule
Sep 4 Cincinnati         W  27-6
Sep11 Marshall           W  24-21
Sep18 at NC State        W  22-14
Oct 2 at Northwestern    L  27-33
Oct 9 Wisconsin          L  13-24
Oct16 at Iowa            L   7-33
Oct23 Indiana            W  30-7
Oct30 Penn State         W  21-10
Nov 6 at Michigan State  W  32-19
Nov13 at Purdue          L  17-24
Nov20 Michigan           W  37-21
Dec29 Oklahoma State     W  33-7   (Alamo Bowl)
Ohio State's revised schedule
Sep 4 Cincinnati         W
Sep11 Marshall           L
Sep18 at NC State        W
Oct 2 at Northwestern    L
Oct 9 Wisconsin          L
Oct16 at Iowa            L
Oct23 Indiana            W
Oct30 Penn State         L
Nov 6 at Michigan State  W
Nov13 at Purdue          L
Nov20 Michigan           W
Ohio State was a really crappy football team in 2004, and the ensuing chaos only makes them intolerably bad.  The Buckeyes are given losses against Marshall, and against Penn State, both games that should've gone the other way.  That drops the team from 7-4 to 5-6, and out of bowl contention.  Jim Tressel immediately becomes Embattled Jim Tressel.  Poorly designed websites are launched, and Utah coach Urban Meyer is called for.  The victory over Michigan still stands, as I remember that game.  Michigan would have lost to anyone that day.
Actual Big Ten standings
# 8 Iowa            7–1 10–2
#14 Michigan        7–1  9-3
#17 Wisconsin       6–2  9–3
    Northwestern    5–3  6–6
#20 Ohio State      4–4  8–4
    Purdue          4–4  7–5
    Michigan State  4–4  5–7
    Minnesota       3–5  7–5
    Penn State      2–6  4–7
    Illinois        1–7  3–8
    Indiana         1–7  3–8
Revised Big Ten standings
# 8 Iowa            7–1 10–2
#14 Michigan        7–1  9-3
#17 Wisconsin       6–2  9–3
    Northwestern    5–3  6–6
    Purdue          4–4  7–5
    Michigan State  4–4  5–7
    Minnesota       3–5  7–5
    Penn State      3–5  5–6
    Ohio State      3–5  5–6
    Illinois        1–7  3–8
    Indiana         1–7  3–8
No real changes here.  Michigan and Iowa tie for the Big Ten championship.  Michigan goes to the Rose Bowl, and loses to Texas.  Iowa loses out on the BCS.  USC defeats Oklahoma for the championship, just like in real life.  Nothing to change here.  Move along.
Ohio State's actual schedule
Sep 3 Miami (OH)       W 34-14
Sep10 Texas            L 22-25
Sep17 San Diego State  W 27-6
Sep24 Iowa             W 31-6
Oct 8 at Penn State    L 10-17
Oct15 Michigan State   W 35-24
Oct22 at Indiana       W 41-10
Oct29 at Minnesota     W 45-31
Nov 5 Illinois         W 40-2
Nov12 Northwestern     W 48-7
Nov19 at Michigan      W 25-21
Jan 2 Notre Dame       W 34-20  (Fiesta Bowl)
Ohio State's revised schedule
Sep 3 Miami (OH)       W
Sep10 Texas            L
Sep17 San Diego State  W
Sep24 Iowa             W
Oct 8 at Penn State    L
Oct15 Michigan State   W
Oct22 at Indiana       W
Oct29 at Minnesota     W
Nov 5 Illinois         W
Nov12 Northwestern     W
Nov19 at Michigan      L
Jan 1 Auburn           W (Capital One Bowl)
As I'm trying hard not to look like a homer, this season was the hardest one to do. Obviously, some change had to be made.  Unfortunately, every Ohio State win was pretty resounding...except for one.  Therefore, the tables get turned on Ohio State in 2005.  Last year, it was the Buckeyes spoiling Michigan despite being in a down year.  This time, it's the other way around.  Michigan beats Ohio State in the Big House, knocking the Buckeyes out of the BCS.  Jim Tressel still can't win in Ann Arbor, and a national crisis is averted as Brady Quinn's sister doesn't have to choose between Notre Dame and Ohio State.
Actual Big Ten standings
# 3 Penn State      7–1 11–1
# 9 Ohio State      7–1 10–2
#15 Wisconsin       5–3 10–3
    Michigan        5–3  7–5
    Northwestern    5–3  7–5
    Iowa            5–3  7–5
    Minnesota       4–4  7–5
    Purdue          3–5  5–6
    Michigan State  2–6  5–6
    Indiana         1–7  4–7
    Illinois        0–8  2–9
Revised Big Ten standings
# 3 Penn State      7–1 11–1
    Michigan        6–2  8–4
# 9 Ohio State      6–2  9–3
#15 Wisconsin       5–3 10–3
    Northwestern    5–3  7–5
    Iowa            5–3  7–5
    Minnesota       4–4  7–5
    Purdue          3–5  5–6
    Michigan State  2–6  5–6
    Indiana         1–7  4–7
    Illinois        0–8  2–9
The big change here is that Penn State becomes the undisputed Big Ten champion.  Ohio State falls to third place, losing a tie-breaker with Michigan.  Michigan jumps up to second place, finishing at 8-4, and playing in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day.  Taking the Buckeyes' place in the BCS is Oregon, who defeats Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
Nationally, #2 Texas defeats #1 USC, as no changes are made there.

(More To Come tomorrow, as I do 2006-2010 then.)



June 9th, 2011 at 12:53 AM ^

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]

coastal blue

June 9th, 2011 at 1:08 AM ^


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)

Rivals Totals

OSU - Avg. Rank: 15.6 Total 5*: 7 Total 4*: 59

UM - Avg. Rank: 11.5 Total 5*: 8 Total 4*: 58

Scout Totals

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. 



June 9th, 2011 at 9:20 AM ^

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.



June 9th, 2011 at 9:21 AM ^

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. 


June 9th, 2011 at 9:43 AM ^

You say Tressel's recruiting was "unethical"...in what way?  What has come out about his recruiting?  You act like he was paying kids stacks of cash personally to sign LOI...that's bullshit.  Second, Troy Smith, if you have anything beyond innuendo that he shouldn't have been eligible for the 2006 Game, please, divulge.  Otherwise, pretty easy to say "If OSU didn't their QB, we would have won".  Maybe if the UM coaching staff could wrap their heads around 5 wide outs, you could have won.  Such a loser's mentality to talk like this, embarassing. 


June 9th, 2011 at 12:11 PM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 10:23 AM ^

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. 


June 9th, 2011 at 10:45 AM ^

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.

coastal blue

June 9th, 2011 at 12:59 PM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 1:53 PM ^

seemingly the general thought process among this community.  Any rules broken means that all rules were broken, forever.  Kind of like dismissing the 03 season/Jan 04 loss to USC...the game isn't getting vacated on the books.  Reggie Bush didn't score a single point in that game nor did the NCAA find he was ineligble for it.  Kind of like the clamoring for OSU wins vacated for years and years, including the 2006 Game...good luck with that.  2010 season, for sure getting vacated.  Other than that, the NCAA will need to come up with a lot of EVIDENCE over and above accusations from anonymous sources.  They also have no power to get any evidence from Pryor or the photographer at this point so that isn't exactly a gimme.  Oh well, continue the revisionist history.  UM National champs 2001-2010 WOOOOOO.


June 13th, 2011 at 1:41 PM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 1:50 AM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 4:53 AM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 5:40 AM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 8:32 AM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 6:55 AM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 8:14 AM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 11:51 AM ^

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)


June 9th, 2011 at 12:47 PM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 8:45 AM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 9:07 AM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 10:11 AM ^

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. 


June 9th, 2011 at 10:39 AM ^

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?)

Zone Left

June 9th, 2011 at 10:46 AM ^

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?


June 9th, 2011 at 1:33 PM ^

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. 


June 10th, 2011 at 12:33 AM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 1:33 PM ^

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.


June 10th, 2011 at 12:35 AM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 4:42 PM ^

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.

Zone Left

June 9th, 2011 at 6:01 PM ^

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?


June 10th, 2011 at 10:43 AM ^

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.


June 9th, 2011 at 7:52 PM ^

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."


June 11th, 2011 at 4:16 PM ^

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.



June 11th, 2011 at 8:54 PM ^

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. 


June 14th, 2011 at 1:46 PM ^

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.


June 14th, 2011 at 12:23 PM ^

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."