College Football Hist-O-Graph Project - #5: Ohio State Buckeyes and the Images Have Been Fixed

Examining CU Football, Pac-12, and Big XII Football over the last 10 years using The Hist-O-Graph...and then saying stuff.

This week's entry focuses on OSU, 'the' OSU, and the other OSU.  Sorry Oregon State, but you're the 'other' OSU.

The Oregon State Beavers Hist-O-Graph: What Happened, Man?

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The Beavers started the decade with an 11-1 season, being Co-Champions of the Pac-10, beating Notre Dame in the Fiesta bowl, and then promptly having a let-down.  Their coach at the time, Dennis Erickson (that guy's been everywhere!), left and was replaced by their current coach; Mike Riley. He quickly figured out how not to recruit 75% of 2 star recruits ('03).

Sure the wheels may be coming off their cart this season, but just recently they were tying and vying for second in the Pac-10.  10-4, 9-4, 9-4; that's the '06-'08 seasons for these guys, and that's with nearly half of their teams being comprised of players who were originally 2 star recruits.  

Important in all of this is Bowl game victories: I'm convinced that for these smaller non-royalty schools, that a win in their bowl game is worth two or three additional wins in the regular season.  In the last decade, OSU is 6-2 in bowl games (there's a loss hiding in '02), and with the exception of their '07 recruiting, I think the numbers bear that out.  

There's two more OSU's to look at, after the jump...

It's especially apparent in '08, but Oregon St. is one of those schools where any 5 star recruit they get essentially displaces another 4 star recruit that they ordinarily would've landed.  It's like they got the same number of 4 star recruits, but one of them is really really good.  

Looking to now; their recruiting for '010 paints a possibly grim picture.  Any smaller school is going to rely on a few key skill players to propel them; and my guess is that if you're recruiting 50% 2 star and 50% 3 star, you're not getting that one phenom to make your offense go.  

It's a lesson in how fragile things can be at a smaller program: one year you whiff on a few recruits, or all your assistant coaches get poached, or that team down  the road (Oregon) starts wearing ridiculous costumes and winning ball-games; and suddenly instead of losing to TCU (13-0) by 9, you're losing to Sac State and being shutout by Brett Berleirmer.

All that said, Oregon State still won the Pac-10, was still quite good through the middle of the decade, and is still better than Baylor.

Next up is Oklahoma State which, in standard midwestern casual fashion, is just plain O.S.U.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys Hist-O-Graph: They Were Only 'Mostly Dead'

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To appreciate what you're looking at, first let me tell you about what you're not looking at: the ten years prior to the chart where Okie State was bad...real bad. 0-10-1 in 1991 bad (that tie is to Iowa St, by the way).  Through most of the 90's, OSU's season consisted of, "beat Tulsa, beat Baylor, lose horrifically to everyone else." To add insult to injury, all this suckage immediately followed back-to-back ten wins in '87 and '88. Why were they so bad, you ask?

Sanctions.

A bevy of sanctions that were as harsh as they were well-earned.  It wasn't quite the death penalty, but it was enough to make a casual observer mistake this 'mostly dead' program for being 'all the way dead.'  It also took years off the program's life; 12 if you're counting between consecutive bowl appearances, and 22* years if you're counting from when anyone took them seriously.

*and counting, for some

So they had a decade of sanction-induced bad, and then in '01 they got Les Miles, got outbid for his gibberish-talk four years later, and then got Mike Gundy, whose steady improvement is plain to see in the stair-step up of their W/L percentage and the continued reduction of 2 star recruits.

And they're still stuck behind Oklahoma and Texas (or whomever in Texas decides to play well). And they always will be.  'But wait!' You cry, 'they're doing better now!'  That's nice. OSU is one of 5 Big XII schools that never played in the Big XII Championship Game, and now there isn't one anymore. The last time OSU was a conference champion wasn't in the late eighties I described to you earlier; it was in 1976.  When they shared the championship. With Colorado.

No, in spite of T. Boone Pickens' ill-gotten loot, my guess is that Oklahoma State's ceiling is to get a few 4 star players every year (or, like Oregon St, get a 5 star player in stead of a 4 star recruit) and put bozo the clown on a giant placard and throw for 500 yards in every game they play.  Really, their season goals haven't changed substantially since the 90's: beat Tulsa, beat Baylor, and don't get sanctioned again.  Not bad for a school whose town name is prairie-explorer shorthand meaning 'DO NOT STOP HERE WHATEVER YOU DO.'

In case you didn't notice, there's not a whole lot in common between these teams except their overlapping acronyms.  Which brings us to our final OSU; 'the' OSU.

THE Ohio State Poisionous Nuts Buckeyes Hist-O-Graph: Juggernaut?

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Over the last decade, Ohio State has accumulated all the trappings of a Powerhouse football team. National Championship? Check. Multiple consecutive conference championships? Check.  Multiple BCS bowl victories? Check.  But for all the press they receive, it's easy to forget that their National Championship victory came in double overtime.  Are they the Juggernaut they appear to be?

OSU's recruiting doesn't quite match up with the Texas's's and USCs' and Oklahomas'.  You can even see that after winning the national championship in '02, they were unable to land any 5 star recruits the following year.  None.  Zero.  The inexplicable happens again after they lose the national championship game in '06 to Florid-uh. Sure, they got a lot of 4 star talent (80% of that class were 4 star recruits).  My question is this; whassajahigawha??

It makes no sense why multiple repeat conference championships plus michigan eating dirt doesn't equal OSU getting to recruit whoever they want.  The numbers don't provide a good explanation. In fact, they pose other more puzzling questions.  During the '03-'07 stretch, OSU's recruiting classes were much smaller than the other schools I've gathered data for. When OU and Nebraska were signing 28 and 32 guy classes, OSU signed 18 players in '05.  The next year Ohio St signed 20, and a massive 17 in '07.  Sure a team's signing classes will fluctuate in size, but there's that funny trough right in the middle of the decade. I don't get it, were the benefits too good to leave behind?

As you'll remember from the first article, (they won't remember, it was a month ago), Colorado's W/L percentage was very cyclical over the last fifteen years.  The same is true with Ohio St., except that the cycle is so obvious it slaps you in the face.  Count it with me, starting with the national championship in '02; Top, two down, two up, two down, two up...   Will they break the cycle? That would require them avoiding the kind of off year where they only* win 75% of their games.  

*only...what jerks.

Though they're not quite the recruiting king like USC or OU or Texas has been, this is the year that the two best recruiting classes they've had all decade ('08-'09) should be playing and starting.  I don't know which Buffaloes or which Buckeyes will show up next week, but I have a feeling that if a few (or more) things go our way, we could actually leave Columbus as the victors.

Go Buffs!

The images have been fixed in all the prior articles.  Did you read the articles without pictures? Have you not read any of the prior installments? You owe it to yourself to have a look...

#1: Introduction: Colorado and the Hist-O-Gram 

#2: The Three Kings: Texas, Oklahoma, and USC

#3: California Bears Have A Deal With the Devil, and the Missouri Tigers

#4: Colorado State Rams Suck

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