B1G Has High Hopes For Urban Too

Written January 15th, 2012 by Chris

It’s amazing that the euphoria I have experienced is still going strong. When Urban Meyer was hired, it seemed like there was a tremendous burden lifted from the collective back of Buckeye Nation.

Glad To Be Here

There weren’t any more nagging doubts. There was no more fear of a football nuclear winter that was going to lay waste to the previous decade of success under Jim Tressel.

Finally the scarlet and gray ship, which had been battered for months by a hurricane of bad news, bad publicity, and bad play on the field had sailed back into calmer waters.  Sure the ship still has some flaws to fix from the relentless beating the vessel took, but there seems to be smooth sailing ahead.

I am often accused of being a Buckeye homer on the weekday sports talk show I host here in Toledo, and I usually agree that I am to a degree when assessing Ohio State. It had been very difficult for me to be objective about a program that I still had several friends and former superiors working at who were still fighting every day for their collective gridiron fate.

I often wonder what I am saying that has people accusing me of being something that I contend I am not anymore.  It all came to a head earlier this week when I was told it is because I don’t stop “gushing” about Urban Meyer and how great the move has been for my precious Buckeyes.

I touched upon this hire towards the end of the season during scUM week- this hire redefines B1G football in several different facets.

There were a number of firsts that occurred with this hire. This was the first time in modern college football that a coach who had won a national championship(s) at another institution was hired at a B1G program. This was the first time someone who had coached in the SEC and won in the conference (sorry Ron Zook) had been hired at a B1G school. This was the first time someone who may have been considered the hottest name in college football was hired at a B1G program.

For too long, fans of programs in the B1G and other college football conferences have been routinely criticized that their brand of football. According to national pundits, it is a joke compared to the brand played in the SEC. With the routine success Ohio State has become accustomed to, it is evident that the Buckeyes have often been the poster child of how the rest of college football could not compete in the SEC.

We have long held to some moral high ground that the SEC cedes to win football games, and with the stories concerning our Buckeyes and other programs (Miami, Oregon, USC), we can’t continue to pretend that there isn’t a shady side to every Buckeye football program. Every program has leaches, whether they be in the SEC or not, and the only place now to set ourselves apart from the SEC is the football field and the results that come from those contests.

How do you go about rectifying a broken reputation on the football field and off of it? Well, you hire a guy who has had a penchant for rectifying programs. Urban Meyer’s success at Bowling Green, Utah, and Florida made him a household name, and his unexpected departure from Gainesville left a perfect mercenary for hire.

Meyer’s hiring is the biggest one not just in Ohio State history, but in the history of B1G football as well.  The hire is not just a home run, it is a grand slam. With the flick of a pen on a few pieces of Ohio State letterhead, the misfortunes, the negative news, and the dark clouds hanging over Columbus lifted.

Recruits came flocking back to the Buckeyes overnight. Recruits who were slipping away suddenly had a change of heart.  A program that had been in steady decline soared back to new heights, and by some analyst’s calculations, Ohio State had soared higher than it ever had before.

Fans are rejuvenated, and the nightmares of the past six months have now faded to our collective unconscious. Buckeye Nation now looks to a brighter day on the horizon, and to future years bathed in success on the football field.

While all of this seems great because it has happened to our football program, let’s not forget that this renewal is not something that was destined to happen at Ohio State. If Penn State had hired Meyer, many, if not all of the same things would have taken place in Happy Valley.

Our B1G brethren at Penn State are a reminder for what could have happened at Ohio State. Let’s not forget the thin line between where they are now and where the Buckeyes are. Granted the atrocities that transpired at Penn State reach far beyond the realm of trading memorabilia for a few tattoos and cash.

This is the affect that Meyer has on college football. He is a superstar coach that has the ability to stabilize the shakiest of grounds. Meyer is not the only star the coaching profession has, but many admit there aren’t any bigger than him.

Along with the goodwill has come expectations beyond even what we expected of Jim Tressel’s teams.  But these expectations don’t hinge solely on taking the Buckeyes to new heights, but also the conference as well.

As already mentioned, rarely has a successful head coach from the SEC left to take a job with a school in another conference, particularly one like the B1G that has been the SEC’s punching bag the last few years. The conference may not be publicly saying it, but they are hoping Meyer can finally bring that elusive consistent winning approach to games against teams from the SEC.

Don’t think this idea is lost on Meyer either. Part of Ohio State’s allure to Meyer is exactly the challenge many think and hope he is able to conquer. Urban knows the conference’s reputation is not the most reputable at times, and he knows that getting the swagger back in the B1G goes through beating SEC teams on the big stage.

Nick Saban may be lauded as the first coach to win three BCS championships, but the one knock (if there is one) is that Saban won them all as a coach in the SEC.  If Saban does not win another national title and Meyer does, he would reach the same peak, but his third might carry a little more weight, especially if he does it against the vaunted SEC.

Meyer would scale a mountain that many don’t think is possible right now.

While Ohio State fans have high expectations for the Urban Meyer era, Jim Delaney and company may have higher expectations for the good of the conference. He may be the conference’s best chance at bucking the troubling trend.

Fans of the scarlet and gray may be praying and wishing for a national championship, but the suits in Chicago in their B1G offices may be rooting for the Buckeyes even more  than the most rabid of fans.

Hopefully Meyer doesn’t wilt under the pressure.


1 Comment

  1. JimNo Gravatar
    January 15th, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Coaching matters. It matters a lot.

    The biggest difference between the SEC and the rest of college football is how much they spend on their coaching staffs.

    Spending the most money on a coaching staff generally means you have the best coaching staff, although that is not always the case.

    By hiring Urban Meyer and putting together one of the top staffs in college football, Ohio State has elevated their game to compete on the national stage.

    Although Michigan’s new head coach is light years away from Urban Meyer, the one thing they clearly did correctly was hiring Greg Mattison as defensive coordinator.

    Mattison took an absolute joke of a defense and turned it into a squad that was at least half way respectable- all with the same exact players. If that isn’t proof that paying for good coaching makes a huge difference I don’t know what is.

    To win these days, you need to spend the money on coaches- that is the impact that the SEC has had on college football. With Urban Meyer and Greg Mattison, Ohio State and Michigan have set themselves apart from the rest of the Big Ten.

    The other schools can either spend the money or get left in the dust.

    Wisconsin’s staff got raided by Pitt, Penn State is in huge trouble, Michigan State might be in decent shape with Dantonio.

    That isn’t the greatest start to getting the conference as a whole back at the top of the college football world.

    But hey, at least Ohio State is on the right track.


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