A few months ago, it would be unfathomable for a 1-11 team to travel to the stadium of the Big Ten champions and do anything but lose by a gazillion.
Yesterday, Jim Tressel stepped down as head coach. With him, a number of players are likely to transfer. Akron still doesn't stand a chance for the opening week matchup against Ohio State, but the odds shortened.
This will not be your ordinary Ohio State-Akron game.
Luke Fickell, the semi-permanent replacement, spent two years coaching Akron's defensive line before heading to Columbus. Former Zips coach Lee Owens has this to say about Fickell:
"There was no question after spending one season with him that Luke had a great coaching future. He's the total deal."
"When coach Tressel called me asking about Luke and his chance to coach the defensive line and punt team at Ohio State, I told (Tressel), 'Oh, he'll be great with the punt team.' When I got off the phone, I told Luke, 'You better get over here and watch film of the punt team.' He had never worked with that unit before. But I was right. He went down there (to OSU) and he's been a great coach."
Tressel had already been suspended for the first five games of 2011, and Fickell, the defensive coordinator, had been named interim coach. Now that the Tressel Era is over, will Fickel keep Tressel's systems? Will he command the same respect?
Those answers are likely "yes," but it will make Sept. 3 a lot more interesting, and it will capture the nation's attention.