Team preview: Ohio State

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(All information as of July 1, 2006)


The record is downright Switzerian. Or Osborneian. Or Paternoian.

Fifty up, 13 down for Jim Tressel in five years as Ohio State's head coach. Not bad for a guy who was considered the third or fourth choice for the Buckeyes. Not bad for a guy who built his coaching resume at I-AA Youngstown State. Not bad for a guy with a low-key personality, who is more Woody Harrelson than Woody Hayes.

Tressel's 50-13 record compares favorably to the first five years of the college football coaching legends. Joe Paterno went 42-10-1 his first five seasons at Penn State. Tom Osborne was 46-13-2 after five years at Nebraska. Bobby Bowden stood 44-14 after five years at Florida State. Barry Switzer was an unbelievable 51-5-2 after half a decade at Oklahoma.

The smart folks at Ohio State recognized Tressel's work in the spring, locking him up with a contract extension through 2012. The deal starts with a $2.378 million salary in 2006, the number climbing to $2.675 million. If he wins another national title or two, a possibility starting with this season, he is sure to get another extension and even more money. Could Tressel become college football's first three million dollar man?

Tressel's rise in the college coaching profession is one of the all-time great stories. He seemed to be a lifer at Youngstown State, winning four I-AA national titles with the Penguins. His final year in Youngstown, he had an $88,000 base salary and earned an extra $20,000 as athletic director. His total compensation is now 20 times that number after just five seasons at Ohio State. Could you squeeze by on that kind of change?

They value their college football in Columbus like few other cities in the country, and none as large. The vocal following is great for the coach when things are going well. The fans are with him win, or win in overtime. But when the seasons turn ugly, the fans become a problem.

How much does Columbus love the Buckeyes? The school drew a nation-best 63,649 … for its spring game. That's more than several Big Ten schools had for any regular-season game in 2005.