After the Wisconsin game, I tuned out college football for a few days. I skipped the post mortems, avoided the Ohio State message boards, and didn’t analyze the game with friends. Why add to the pain?
Coaches don’t have that luxury. Jim Tressel and his staff had to immediately swallow their disappointment and get to work at deconstructing the Wisconsin game and developing plans for the next game. When I was deciding to practice an avoidance approach, they were watching film of the brutal loss. They had to decide what to tell players who had played poorly at Madison and what to do to keep opponents from running kickoffs back for touchdowns, among countless other preparations. The Wisconsin game — tough though it was — is only one game of a long season. There are many more games to be played, like tomorrow’s game against Purdue at the Horseshoe, and when you have a bad game you have to bounce back.
This is where a coach earns his pay. Great coaches help their players shrug off a bad game and understand that they can still have a successful season, and then get them to play hard the next game and get back on track. Coach Tressel managed to do that last year after Ohio State had a painful loss at Purdue. This year he faces that challenge again.