Ohio State has been on an historic run of success in the Big Ten. That era is on the verge of being over. 2001-2010 saw Jim Tressel's Buckeyes win or tie for seven Big Ten titles, one national title, two national runner-ups and a total of eight BCS game invitations. This success nationally and his success over Michigan will be well documented. Best to get those accomplishments down before they are stricken from the record.
His departure drastically changes the landscape of the Big Ten both on the field and off. On the field, the Big Ten race just became a lot more wide open. Off the field, recruiting some of the best in the midwest just became a bit less crowded. Let's take a look more specifically at what this is going to mean to the Big Ten and your Golden Gophers.
On the field, it looks like Ohio State is in danger of ending their streak of six straight Big Ten titles (tied or otherwise). The first thing that came to my mind for me was just how fortunate Nebraska is right now. Ohio State has plenty of talent still but this could be a season without focus and pending NCAA sanctions may diminish their overall talent in the near future. Michigan is typically a great program that is still very much down. Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin are all grooming brand new QBs and as importantly are replacing some significant players along the line. The front of the line is wide open and Nebraska has a real chance to establish themselves as king of the hill in their first Big Ten season.
Ohio State, as mentioned, still has plenty of talent on their current roster. They easily have the talent to win the Big Ten yet again. But they now have more obstacles than they are used to. Five key players will miss the first five games of the year. Only one of those games are Big Ten games and they all return for their game at Nebraska. But football isn't a 'plug-and-play' sport and there will be a transition. The man they are all used to leading the program and organizing practices/game plans is gone; replaced by a familiar face who will do things differently. Luke Fickell may be an outstanding coach, or me may be in over his head. And on top of that there will be more investigating by the NCAA, this time likely centering on the players. Think that won't be distracting?
Off the field the recruiting game just changed in a big way. No longer does Ohio State have the advantage with both fathers and mothers of recruits. The image has been ruined of being a dominate program accustomed BCS games AND being a program with the utmost integrity. Starting today it is open season on Ohio State in the living room recruiting battles. On top of the negative recruiting that will take place is the potential for some serious NCAA sanctions. Ohio State may lose some scholarships, lose post season opportunities which may result in losing some excellent recruits who don't want to spend their careers rebuilding what was once a great empire.
So what does this all mean for Minnesota? Well on the field, it doesn't matter right now. We were never able to beat a Tressel led Buckeye squad and we won't be facing the Buckeyes this year or the next. So any competitive benefit we may get from this will not be realized until maybe 2013. I won't lose any sleep if they summer scholarship limitations and then eventually a diluted talent on the Buckeye roster. For the first time in my life I want Ohio State on our schedule in 2013. If we can get better under Coach Kill and assuming Ohio State takes a step back in the next couple years; I'd rather face Indiana, but if we are going to get a win or two over Ohio State our chances may be better in 2013.
Off the field we don't have very many head-to-head recruiting battles with Ohio State. If you are looking for any specific, potential victories on the horizon it would potentially be Jonah Persig. The big tackle from Blue Earth has an Ohio State offer and we still have some teams to out-recruit but I'd rather take my chances against Wisconsin and Iowa than Ohio State. It is early but if we are looking for any recruiting help from this, he is the only one who quickly comes to mind.
Overall this is a very ugly situation that will end badly for Ohio State. A few schools will benefit from their demise, unfortunately it will not likely be Minnesota. For more reaction to the aftermath be sure to go to Along the Olentangy to get your Buckeye perspective.