Ohio State faces USC this weekend and things could be getting pretty hot under Jim Tressel’s sweater vest. The last top 10 team that Ohio State beat was Michigan in November of 2006. They have been spanked in their last few bowl games and didn’t win at home against Penn State last year. This USC game is more than just a circled game on their schedule, for Jim Tressel, it could be for his job.
Jim Tressel’s approval rating in Columbus has been near 75-80% for nearly his entire tenure as football coach of Ohio State. He won a National Championship right away when he took over and he’s been a good ride. They have been a staple in BCS bowl games since it’s incarnation and he’s kept his nose clean when it comes to NCAA infractions. Why am I saying that he’ll be on the hot seat? It’s not only me, the local ESPN radio affilate here in Columbus has also brought it up. They say if he loses to USC, his approval rating would drop below 50% for the first time. We all know, once the approval rating drops below half, something little can sway people to the most popular side of the argument.
If Ohio State loses to USC and it’s close, even closer than their bowl game against Texas last year, I think he’ll be fine. He’ll be fine until the Buckeyes go to Happy Valley and play Penn State on the road. If they lose both of those games, they could be in danger of not making a BCS bowl game. There are a lot of good teams this year and especially in smaller non-BCS conferences. BYU and Boise State already have a pretty good win on their resume and there’s 12 more weeks of college football left.
I’m not saying that Jim Tressel will get fired if they lose to USC and Penn State this year, but it will be the first time this discussion will be taking place. If they lose to Michigan at the end of the year, the discussion could turn into screaming. The pressure will be turned up to win next season, since Terrelle Pryor could leave after next season, since he would be 3 years removed from high school. If Pryor puts up big numbers, he’ll be taken in the first round because of his athleticism and upside. Tressel would be left with another young quarterback and would have to start over. Troy Smith isn’t walking through that door. Ted Ginn isn’t walking through that door. A.J. Hawk isn’t walking through that door.