The last of the season recaps for both football and basketball takes place today with the two programs that brought home the championship hardware.
It was a banner year in Columbus during the fall, as the Buckeyes won their third straight conference championship. The past two have been outright and have ended in the BCS Championship Game. Unfortunately, both seasons have ended with decisive title-game losses to an SEC school, but only the most ignorant media members (a category that sadly includes most of them) would focus only on the latter at the expense of the former.
Jim Tressel had to replace all of his 2006 playmakers, including Heisman winner Troy Smith. He still got off to an 8-0 start against a relatively soft schedule, then beat Penn State & Wisconsin late in the year and capped it off with a dominating defensive effort in Ann Arbor to seal the league title. Only Illinois, who pulled a big upset in Columbus has been able to dent the OSU armor in league play over the last two seasons.
The basketball team was rebuilding this year after losing Greg Oden and Mike Conley to the NBA draft, so a repeat of last year's run to a league title and the NCAA final was out of the question from the get-go. Thad Matta's team had its high points--a near-miss at Tennessee and big late-season wins at home against Purdue and Michigan State that kept their tournament hopes alive, but in the end there wasn't enough consistency to return to the Big Dance. The Buckeyes still won the NIT as a nice consolation prize.
The football team had great expectations in August as a Big Ten crown and a possible run for a national title were seen as reasonable goals. Those didn't quite pan out, as the team struggled to some early wins and then played poorly in back-to-back losses at Illinois & Penn State. In the wake of the latter defeat they found their footing, and lost only at Ohio State the rest of the regular season, throwing in a big win against Michigan that proved enough to get them a New Year's bid to the Outback Bowl. A loss at Tennessee ended a year that wasn't bad, but could have been more.
The basketball team was an unmitigated success. Losing Player of the Year Alando Tucker didn't stop Bo Ryan from re-tooling his team and running to a 16-2 Big Ten record and winning his third conference title. The Badgers also won a big nonconference game in Texas. The NCAA Tournament produced a Sweet 16 performance. Losing to 10th-seeded Davidson was an undeniable disappointment, but the body of work overall was one of the most impressive in the nation.