DID YOU KNOW? Urban Meyer spent the past four hours watching 'World's Strongest Man' reruns on ESPN2 before taking the podium at his introductory press conference? Flex, Urbz, Flex. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
The latest installment of ITBUUS shifts its focus towards THE Ohio State University. Once again, our old pal, Vico from Our Honor Defend has volunteered to get the Penn State fan base up to speed on all the latest happenings in Columbus. Is everything beautiful and nothing hurting once again for Buckeye fans? Are Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer really that different, as far as philosophies are concerned? Who's the latest potential one-and-done basketball stud Thad Matta has brought into the hoops program? These answers and more, if you'll read on...
My, what a difference a year makes: This time last year, OSU was still dealing with the fallout from Tatgate. Now, Urban Meyer appears to have convinced everyone to remain calm and that all is well. Bowl ban aside, is it all puppy dogs and ice cream in Columbus once again? What are the expectations for the 2012 squad?
I think it is all puppy dogs and ice cream. There is considerable optimism in the Buckeye State (I'm avoiding "Nation". I hate that "Nation" is en vogue in the sports world) regarding the arrival of Urban Meyer and the staff he has brought with him from Florida and elsewhere around the country. Most of the optimism certainly pertains to the offense. Count me as one of those guys that is not enamored with spread as concept, but the Urban Meyer-Tom Herman brain trust already understands base-constraint basics better than Jim Bollman and Nick Siciliano. While I'm ambivalent on the pro-style/spread preference argument, the packaged concepts in Meyer's offense already sets up the 2012 team for better success, and looking into the future as well. Should Meyer be better at recruiting than Tressel (who was very good), bring in more and better athletes in the trenches and keep much of the existing defensive philosophy in place, Ohio State should be conference and national elites in perpetuity. The hope is, obviously, national championships will follow.
I was kind of bearish about the 2012 team after the spring game. The 2005 Florida team came to mind, which struggled to run the ball and still had Chris Leak as a quarterback that was a thing. Likewise, I thought, at the time, we would struggle running the ball with some of the older packaged concepts in Meyer's offense, while having a sophomore quarterback and a slew of unknown commodities at receiver. I expected a 9-3 type of season, largely on the heels of the defense (which I expect to be very good). I have since become more bullish about the 2012 team. While I haven't lost sight of the limitations inherent in the squad, I think Meyer benefited from the glorified scouting job he called his ESPN color commentator position. In particular, I expect Meyer to ape Chip Kelly's offense with some success. I think inside zone as a base play for the offense has the potential to be really promising, especially with Carlos Hyde. I think Meyer's time watching football in lieu of coaching football has allowed to better fine tune what he wants from an up tempo offense, which can be contrasted with the mixed results of the "banzai" tempo in the latter stages of his Florida tenure. In short, I expect short-term success in 2012 from the basics, which I think can mask some of the limitations inherent in the offense. Ohio State will still not have a great downfield receiving option and the offensive line depth will be razor thin. Still, I think 10-2 or better is likely. I feel pretty good about the 2012 squad.
Tress (aka Jim Tressel) and Urban: Aside from their coaching philosophies, they really don't seem all that different as far as embracing the traditions and values of OSU (i.e. The Best Damn Band In The Land, the importance of the Michigan rivalry, etc.). Is there anything else however, that sets these two coaches apart that non-Buckeye fans are overlooking?
I think it's important to note that some of the optimism in the Greatest State of Ohio comes because Meyer, fortunately, has chosen not to punish Buckeye fans for what brought down Jim Tressel. It would be too easy to blame Ohio's notoriously obsessed fanbase for gaining access to the players (and for Tressel, then, covering that up). This would prompt the successor to Tressel (who was himself very aloof) to further cut off access to the football program. I would have understood that, had it happened. I also would've hated it.
Meyer, on the other hand, chose to bring the football program even closer to the student body and the community. Thanks in large part to important staffers like Mark Pantoni (among many others), Ohio State fans have enjoyed the propaganda flyers that get sent to recruits. We've enjoyed a better Twitter presence than the previous regime. We also had the "Urban Town Hall", where strength coach Mickey Marotti even led the coaches, the coaches' wives, and the students in a pre-game warm-up drill. We had a treat of a spring game, for which the losing Gray squad had to do community service in our Buckeye Grove. We had players take a camcorder and wander around campus in football uniforms, asking questions of the student body meandering on the Oval.
All told, Meyer's reaction to the scandal was to not take Buckeye football away from us, but bring it even closer. I can't imagine this is something Tressel would have done under similar circumstances.
As you know by now, the B1G-Pac 12 scheduling agreement has been null and voided. Did this make you a Sad Panda? Is there any other conference you would like to see the B1G enter into a scheduling agreement with similar to what they had with the Pac 12?
Yes and no. I had a mixed reaction when the scheduling arrangement was first announced. I loved the idea of a B1G-Pac alliance that could offset some costs associated with the non-revs by bundling them together, perhaps even associating them with football. Such an alliance could help the Pac 12 in the Midwestern markets and get the B1G fanbase on the west coast even greater access to their favorite Midwestern program. Everyone benefits. My only grief was rather petty, namely that I did not want to get stuck with a football game at Washington State or against some other Pac 12 team I really just don't care about. Let's be honest: most of the Pac 12 teams are boring. Even the nouveau riche Oregon Ducks bore me. Plus, the thought of a rematch in the Rose Bowl, a la the 1976 Rose Bowl, just puts a bad taste in my mouth.
However, the concept was fantastic. I think it might have been undone by differences in conferencing scheduling (eight for the B1G, nine for the Pac). Thus, Stanford, USC, and Utah are in a bind regarding their other non-conference football commitments. This led (at least) four Pac-12 schools to block the pact while the B1G TEN schools were unanimously on board. Beyond my petty grievances, I think that arrangement can and should be salvaged. No other set of conferences are a better match for each other than those two.
What's the general consensus amongst the Buckeye faithful regarding Urban Meyer growing out a Buckstache to honor the place that gave him his first coaching gig?
Yes. And it should have been done yesterday, dammit.
Time for a "shooty-hoops" (as Vico himself likes to call it) question: Who is the latest one-and-done stud Thad Matta reeled in that opposing B1G fans will remember come this Winter?
Thad Matta did not have much of a recruiting class in 2012. His lone signee came late into the process, Amedeo Della Valle. Della Valle comes to us from Italy, by way of Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, Nevada. He might put in a few minutes a game from the bench, but don't expect Della Valle to be a one-and-done.
That said, the new name B1G TEN shooty hoops fans will know as the season unfolds is LaQuinton Ross. Ross is a versatile player with the ability to drive and, importantly, the ability to hit a mid to long range jumper. At 6'8, 225lbs, it makes him a bit of a conundrum for other teams in the conference. Ross will be a sophomore this season, having played only 35 minutes all of last season. He was academically ineligible until December.
Beyond that, expect Buckeye fans to continue fawning over Aaron Craft, because he's so dreamy. So dreamy, you guys. Swoon.
Bobby Hoying - Is it sad that Bobby Hoying is one of the better quarterbacks we've ever had at Ohio State? This statement at least omits players like Tippy Dye and national champion Rex Kern. In terms of "modern" QBs, Bobby Hoying is near the top in a lot of categories. He's #4 in most passing yards in a game (Penn State, 1995... neener neener), #2 for passing yards in a season (1995), #1 in TD passes in a career, #2 for TD passes in a season, and #2 for passing yards in a career. This even controls for him being benched in 1993 for Brett Powers. In most cases, he's behind, wait for it... Art Schlichter. Ohio State: we are not known for quarterbacks.
Terry Glenn - Until the rise of the Airraid offense, I had not seen a wide receiver dominate college football like Terry Glenn did in 1995. His 60% after that injury he suffered against Minnesota was better than everyone else's 100%.
Brutus - Love him. I hope he'll be at my wedding one day, either as my best man or the priest. [Tim's Note: Hopefully the latter, because what die-hard college football fan wouldn't want a priest sporting a mascot head at their wedding?]
High Street - Travis Howard, our starting cornerback, is a Miami, Florida native that likened High Street to Ocean Drive when he was here on a recruiting visit. That is: for colleges, it's a fantastic union of foot traffic, places to see, and things to do. I've seen other universities where I wasn't convinced their main "strip" was as active as Ohio State's High Street. It's a selling point for prospective students of all types. Also, Larry's was there, and Larry's will live forever in our hearts.
Randy Ayers - Technically, he did bring us to a Final Four in 1992 because, seriously, fuck Michigan and its Fab Five that it's no longer allowed to talk about.
And Finally…Give us your take on how things will play out in Happy Valley this October when PSU-OSU collide.
I'm expecting Ohio State to prevail in this matchup. Bill O'Brien has done a great job of damage control in the past few days, making the very most of the very worst possible situation to enter. To that end, he's earned the respect and admiration of Penn State fans for saying the right things at the right time. In terms of football, my understanding is, still, that O'Brien is trying to install the Patriots' offense while using Matt McMoxie (or whoever) as a quarterback. The nuances of Erhardt-Perkins is great with Tom Brady as quarterback, but I would've thought Charlie Weis' saga at Notre Dame would have underscored the perils of trying to do exactly that in college. All else equal, I don't expect Penn State to keep pace with Ohio State's offense, no matter how meager Ohio State's offense could be in 2012. If you wanted a score projection, umm... 24-10, or so.
Further, it's an ceteris paribus projection on my part. I don't feel comfortable projecting this game while also considering the fallout from Penn State's NCAA sanctions.