Occasional contributor Jessi returns to give us her thoughts on the upcoming season under Urban Meyer.September 1st of 2012. To most college football fans, it marks the beginning of a football season for their respective teams. To others, it means “redemption” from the past year – a sort of “resurrection” from the ashes of failure into the fire of champions. For dominance, for recognition, and most importantly for pride. This is what most college football programs will focus on this season.
As for Ohio State? Well, set your expectations into “experimental mode” and get ready for the ride of your life. My opinion comes from years of watching Tressel lead at OSU along with the Urban Meyer era at the University of Florida. As an Alumni of Ohio State during the Tressel era, being a die-hard fan through troubled times, I feel that my experiences will help you understand my thought process which gives me my own personal expectations for the 2012-2013 season of The Ohio State Buckeyes.
November 28th, 2011. The Ohio State Football program got the chance of a lifetime. Urban Meyer was announced as head coach for The Ohio State University. This, after Luke Fickell suddenly became head coach and proudly said: “The 2011 Buckeyes will not be compared or contrasted to previous years. It will be about respect, toughness, and being men of action.”
This quote gives me chills, because it is still incredibly relevant for the upcoming season.
Urban Meyer can certainly not be “compared or contrasted to previous seasons”. It’s a new era. I would know, having attended the 2006 National Championship game between Ohio State (with Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr.) and the University of Florida (with quarterbacks Chris Leak and Timmy Tebow). I was on the 1 yard line of the University of Florida end zone. I was 3 rows up from the endzone when the Gators came out of their locker room. I was shocked at the incredible physical attributes of the entire team. They were huge. As soon as I saw those super-men practicing, I began to worry.
One year after the loss, I was in the student section called “Block O”. Football seasons came and went as I stood in Block “O”, hoping these losses were just a dream. Yet, if Ohio State was behind 3 touchdowns behind, we kept cheering.
I realized it wasn’t about the game. It was about the passion, the dedication. We, the students at Ohio State, were proud. It didn’t matter if we won or lost. What mattered was how pumped we could get the stadium, no matter what the score. If we could get Ohio Stadium to show Buckeye pride, it was a mission accomplished.
I, among many other Buckeye fans, went through a period of hopelessness. But Block “O’ taught me to be dedicated no matter what challenged my team.
I actually knew long before the announcement about Meyer’s contract to become Head Coach of The Ohio State Buckeyes (I have connections.). My first instinct was a bit defiant and bitter, along with insecurity. Meyer had stepped down as head coach of the much-coveted Florida Gators for health reasons, spent one season as a football analysis, then went to coaching again. I was skeptical. Was this a “One-and-Done” deal? I couldn’t be sure until the official announcement was made.It happened. The announcement was made on national television for all to see. I was at a restaurant in Coca Beach, Florida. I heard “Wow, they are going to dominate.” Along with “He’ll just bail out like he did at UF.”
I begged to differ with both points. “Domination” to me was a bit excessive. Urban Meyer has a history of success as a head coach. He was undoubtedly a very successful rehabilitator of somewhat “weak” teams.
But this was the same coach I saw 5 years ago kill my dreams of a Buckeye National Championship and suffocated me with bitter defeat.
I then remembered what I told “Buckeye Bashers” that horrible night; “Urban Meyer was a coach at Ohio State before he was the Head Coach at Florida!” It gave me a bit of “pride” that Ohio State had produced a great coach.
I watched every single press conference Meyer held after practices. I remember Meyer saying how “unimpressed” he was with the offense. I wasn’t surprised. Meyer suddenly mentioned the weakness of the defense, something Buckeye fans hold with pride.
Meyer explained himself clearly. He stated that the physical makeup of the entire team needed attention. Our players were sloppy and weak. The team needed to be as strong as their emotional mentality. It made perfect sense to me.
Those university of Florida football players I saw in 2006 were the ultimate underdogs in a game where they were almost a non-existent factor to many analysts. Yet Urban Meyer told them differently, and trained them differently.
I’d never seen such tough, muscular players in my life. They had no special powers, nor false hopes of winning. This was a team that didn’t notice the odds stacked against them. They had an attitude that I can now only describe as “beast mode”. They were truly inspired by something. That something was Coach Meyer.
After seeing those monstrous Florida Gator players, I had a fantasy of how the Ohio State players would look when they emerged from camp. Pictures soon appeared on Ohio State Forums and Fan pages. I’d expected a new team, but then discovered the new era.
With my many experiences and extensive analysis, I keep my expectations at a humble level. Looking at Urban Meyer, I suspect many Buckeye fans are hoping for nothing but a successful season with all circumstances playing out fabulously. I look more realistically at the situation. Urban Meyer’s daughter Nikki explained in a recent “College Football Preview” magazine that it was fate which united Meyer with Ohio State again. The family made out a contract for Coach Meyer to help himself, not just the team. Coach Meyer isn’t just trying to rebuild our football team; he is trying to rebuild himself.This is the very reason I don’t expect absolute perfection or immediate success. I am grateful enough to have the honor of saying Urban Meyer is the Head Coach of the Ohio State Football team. Last year was a humble experience for players. We’d been spoiled with greatness and an amazing win-loss ratio. Last year proved not only for the players, but to me, just because we are Ohio State doesn’t automatically make us successful.
Experience is what makes us grow. Experience is the best way to learn from our mistakes. If we learn from experience, success is only a lesson away. As Luke Fickell said “This season is about respect, dignity, and will show men of action.” I give myself no expectations or goals for this season. My hope is one thing: to become a successful and strong football team with a winning mentality. This doesn’t happen overnight, nor over a single year.
So expect to see a new generation of Buckeye players briskly storm the stairs of success and place their name in College Football history once again. Untarnished, not shameful, or without doubt that their hard work has paid off.