Oh! What a Difference a Year Makes

By Dr. Jeff A. Glenn – @jagadelic

Saturday, November 27th, 2010.

Ohio State has just demolished Michigan 37-7. It's the seventh straight win over our former rival and ninth in the last ten meetings. It's the sixth straight time Coach Tressel and his boys grabbed a piece of the Big Ten Title or won it, outright. If it weren't for a close loss at Wisconsin, we'd be headed to a National Championship battle for the ages with Cam and his Auburn Tigers. No worries, though; our three star players, Pryor, Posey and Herron, are all coming back, not to mention nine defensive starters.  The cupboard is so full that we can't get the door shut all the way. So, let's make those plans to fly down to the Sugar Bowl, party on Bourbon Street,get ready to grab that preseason number one ranking and dare anyone to take it from us, as we steamroll our way to a certain date in the January 2012 National Championship Game.

My goodness. I won't go into the details of all that derailed the Buckeye Express. As you know, Tressel, Pryor, Herron and Posey, among others, were caught violating NCAA rules and everything went down the tubes faster than Ed, Kenny and B-Lew can devour a meal at Rudy's chicken shack. Watching what was left of the Buckeye program operate this year was like seeing Roy Jones' last couple of fights. You didn't hope for greatness, just survival.

Well, they survived. With no passing game to speak of, they upset Wisconsin, played heads up with Nebraska and the Spartans, and even made Michigan stress out at the Big House for 59 minutes. Their true freshman, Braxton Miller, definitely looks like a prospect we can build a championship contender around. It's even rumored that the Gator Bowl would love to get an Ohio State - Florida rematch.

Which brings us to Urban Meyer. He's the native Buckeye who rose rapidly through the coaching ranks (including a short stint in the late 80's as a grad assistant for Ohio State) and ended up smoking our undefeated and heavily favored squad for the 2006 National Championship while coaching the Florida Gators.  Buckeye fans are now expecting him to ride in on his white knight and give us another decade of triumph to match the previous one.

Um, not so fast. First of all, the NCAA is still dragging its feet on letting us know if there will be further sanctions. Any loss of scholarships or bowl appearance bans will keep the Meyer era from making a mad dash out the gate. Secondly, I wonder if "cold weather schools" will be able to compete on even footing in this new era of college football.

It seems clear that the most successful programs have migrated South and West. The recent domination by the SEC speaks for itself, the Florida schools have been strong since the 80's and now Oregon and Stanford have joined USC in being a force out west. Of course, you still have perennial powers Oklahoma, Texas and now Oklahoma State to deal with as well.

With that said, where does it leave Notre Dame and the Big Ten? Well, last week, none of those 13 schools got a top ten BCS ranking. It's hard to compete with warm weather schools that can train year-round (it's also hard to compete for recruits when you're offering snow and Gore-Tex vs. beaches and bikinis.) I don't think it's a coincidence that warm weather schools have taken over. Recruiting is no longer regional; it's national. Everybody's on TV, so that's less of a hook. Grandma Ida from Cleveland can still watch her baby play every nearly every week if he spurns Ohio State or Michigan for Alabama or USC.

I'm not saying Ohio State can't come back strong. I certainly hope that they do. It's just not going to happen overnight. Tressel won a National Championship his second year. Meyer will likely need more time. Yes, we'll be title contenders from time to time, but to quote the venerable Nino Brown, "I'm on the run, G. It's never gonna be like it was."

11 Replies to “Oh! What a Difference a Year Makes”

  1. great non-biased perspective... too many buckeye fans i know have already booked their hotels for the mythical national championship for 2014 and beyond and think that Coach Meyer has the same power that Tebow Jesus carries...

    The one key factor that not alot of people realize is that while Meyer is a good coach he also had GREAT assistants. Mullen, Strong, Mattison were all at the helm during UF heyday, and it was NO coincidence that as soon as each made their exit to other positions the UF program began to take a dip.

    Yes he will be able to convince some of the southern guys to come north, as OSU always had a presence in FL but will he be able to get the upper echelon guys to spurn FSU/UF/Miami (and even the SEC) to come up north. And truthfully there are many who feel that Meyer didnt maximize the talent he had in Gainsville either, considering he consistently had top 5 recruiting classes.

    This will make the U-M vs OSU rivalry more interesting but I refuse to hand over the B10 championship to them for the next ten years

    1. @Q - Good points made. I've heard that Meyer is already trying assemble an all-star cast of assistant coaches and the fact that he was able to keep Luke Fickell is huge from a continuity standpoint.

      One thing's for certain, they need more playmakers on offense. Braxton's a beast, but they'll need more. Let the Urban Meyer era begin.

  2. Agreed

    Meyer has his work cut out. 15 years ago, Buckeye Nation only worried about Michigan coming down and stealing our best high school players, like Desmond and Charles Woodson. Now, they're coming from all over. Ohio's #1 ranked linebacker for 2010, Trey DePriest, ran off with Nick Saban to Alabama. It's a new day.

    You're right about the assistants. They have other gigs and Meyer will not be able to snap his fingers and "put the band back together". However, he did get a generous allowance for staff salaries so he should be able to attract some quality.

    It's a great hire. I can't think of anyone else I'd rather have since John Gruden turned us down and Cowher was a non starter. I'm saying let's just ease back a little on the expectations. He's a coach; he doesn't walk on water or turn it into wine.

  3. I'm not entirely convinced of your "cold-weather" schools theory to be perfectly honest with you. If you build a winner, having great coaching and have excellent recruiters, it doesn't matter the location of your university, especially since there will be some guys looking past college to the NFL and realizing there are a whole lot of "cold-weather" places they'll have to play if they expect to make it.

    I honestly don't have any reservations about Meyer bringing OSU back to national prominence on a yearly basis. NCAA sanctions may delay that a bit, but for goodness sake, the guy had Utah in National Championship conversations before Boise St. was the annual darling it is now. The man can coach and recruit, plain and simple, and he assembles staffs that can coach and recruit too. OSU is in good hands.

    My alma mater on the other hand … well, let's not even get into that.

  4. Every stop Urban has made, he's won and won big there. I don't see it being any different at Ohio. Braxton Miller is going to be a stud, and the best thing that will ever happen to him is Urban Meyer coaching at Ohio. Meyer's always made great college quarterbacks. Josh Harris, Alex Smith, and Tim Tebow were all NFL draft picks. Chris Leak was one of the better college quarterbacks I can remember. I don't see anything different for Braxton.

    The things Ohio fans should be worried about are his willingness to coach, and his track record as far as discipline. Florida fans are salty about the way he left. Back when he first "retired" for the 2nd time, some Florida fans were saying he was making an excuse because he saw that the future was not as bright for the Gators without Tebow. I'm not sure if that's true, but a case can definitely be made. If his health really is an issue, will he be able to stick it out at Ohio for the long run? 8-10 years??

    Second, with the watchful eye of the NCAA now being firmly on Ohio's athletic department, I don't know if he'll be able to allow 30+ arrests of his football players during his tenure there.

    I'm excited about the future of the B1G. Fans of Ohio and michigan state have been asking me if I am scared of Urban Meyer coaching at Ohio. The short and quick answer is no. Ohio has always had a great football coach (Cooper followed by Tressel). Ohio is always going to have great football teams. Since 1994 when I first remember watching a Michigan-Ohio game, that's always been the case. I hope Michigan and Ohio are battling for B1G supremacy every year, just with Michigan coming out on top more often than not.

    Go Blue.

  5. @Rev - I admit my "cold weather" theory is far from scientific. Perhaps the BCS standings just shocked me a bit. However, it's clear that schools in the West and South have been dominating. The Big Ten is falling back and the Big East is a joke. Maybe it's cyclical. I think it's a trend; a rather disturbing one for this Big Ten alum.

    I hope Urban proves me wrong but I'm concerned that South Bend, Columbus, Ann Arbor and College Station don't have the drawing power that they used to.

    @Vernon - Finally, a Michigan fan who makes sense! Yes, Ohio State and Michigan benefit when both schools have great teams. Same for the Big Ten as a whole. Michigan State finally beat both Ohio State and Michigan in the same season. Five years ago, that would have guaranteed a national championship run. Now, they're ranked #13. Here's hoping that Urban and Hoke can get it together and recapture some of that magic.

  6. @JAG

    It's definitely hard to argue with the polls and the recent domination of the South and the West. But I do think it's a cyclical thing, and based more on who happens to be coaching and recruiting for those dominant teams: Pete Carroll, Nick Saban, Les Miles, Urban Meyer, Gary Paterson, Tommy Tuberville, etc. Those are some damn fine coaches we're speaking of, whereas ND has had nothing but turnover, Michigan has been unstable since Lloyd Carr left, OSU was fine until Tressel got canned - though not winning the title in a while, still dominant with tons of NFL-caliber players. I think it's cyclical and situational, not necessarily a phasing out of the great white north. That's how I see it anyway.

  7. Ha. This is unusual. We disagree and I'm hoping you're right and I'm wrong. Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Notre Dame are the Big Four programs of the Midwest. All four have coaches who have been on the job less than three years and are in a down phase right now. Here's hoping the pendulum swings back our way. If we keep our boys home and not have any more Benedict Woodsons, we'll be cool. And pilfering a couple of track stars who can ball from Florida and Cali to fill out our WR core wouldn't hurt either.

    Come to the Big Ten. The cold will make a man out of you! Getting a coed out of a bikini is easy pickings. A true Mack Daddy can get her out of a parka, three sweaters and two pairs of pants!

  8. The only thing Urban has to worry about is what the NCAA is going to do. But the current team has a lot of talent and he will be able to get talent to come there.

    I bet Braxton has been doing back flips all day lol.

    They won't lose many seniors also.

  9. Well looking at previous recruiting classes, Notre Dame has been able to debunk the "you cant get top talent from everywhere to come to the cold north" Im just glad as a U-M fan they have had dunder-heads as coaches... Brian Kelly is the biggest joke in CFB just in the way he handles his players but ND deserves all they get due to how they handled Ty Willingham. Just looking at the freshman class they had last year they should have gone at worse 10-2, and 2012 class is looking as star studded, but they havent been able to translate it onto the field.

    Yes Urban can get the speed backs, WR and even the LB/DBs from the south to come north, the previous coaches at OSU were able to, the KEY is getting the DL (who have the uncanny combination of speed and size) to make that trek, and truthfully it may not even be about the weather but the the academic standards that OSU carries. I have heard rumors about him petitioning to have them lowered at the school so he can go after the same JUCO studs and marginal players that make it into the SEC schools that wouldnt even get a second look at any of the B10 schools. Look at the last two champions, they were led on defense by JUCO studs Terrence Cody and Nick Fairley. If he is able to trick the university into allowing that THEN all bets are off, but it speaks to what matters to him.

  10. @Q - I give Urban credit for being honest. He's saying, "don't send me into a gunfight with a cap pistol. You want to beat the SEC? Then you have to give me access to the same talent pool that they use."

    You want high academic admission standards? Fine - but performance expectations have to be recalibrated accordingly. Stanford and Notre Dame- fine institutions who have success on the field here and there. But they aren't in the title hunt year in and year out. You can be one or the other. Can't have your cake and eat it too.

    I didn't realize ND's recruiting classes were all that spectacular. I look at those scouting reports with a grain of salt. ND has a large national fan base and if you put ND on a magazine cover and say they had a top recruiting class, your publication will fly off the shelves. Would a magazine exaggerate to meet its sales quota? In this economy? Yup.

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