2012 Ohio State Buckeyes Football Preview
The Ohio State Buckeyes can afford to be hopeful this season, because scoreboard losses won't carry the negative impact they'd normally possess for any top-tier college football program.
It's a new era in Columbus, Ohio. After the wreckage of last season, when interim head coach Luke Fickell guided OSU to a 6-6 regular season in the wake of the resignation of iconic coach Jim Tressel, the Buckeyes obtained a new giant in the coaching profession. Urban Meyer, the architect of two national championship teams at the University of Florida in 2006 and 2008, agreed to become the new head coach at Ohio State. This move gives OSU the chance to become a heavyweight once again after losing ground in 2011.
Tressel resigned, of course, because he lied to and withheld information from NCAA investigators who were looking into several small-scale improprieties that had allegedly occurred at Ohio State, including the procurement of tattoos and various forms of memorabilia by five Buckeye football players. These alleged activities were all NCAA violations; when they were confirmed, Tressel's lack of honesty – combined with the violations themselves – brought down "Mister Sweater Vest," the man who coached Ohio State to the 2002 national championship and three outright Big Ten titles plus four shared titles.
Tressel is gone, but as a result of the mess he left behind, Ohio State has to pay one more penalty: It cannot participate in a postseason game this year. The Buckeyes did not earn a spot in the first Big Ten Championship Game, and they won't be able to play in the second one. This is a considerable disappointment for the school, but the penalty was expected by almost every college sports observer. Now that the punishment has been handed out, however, it does give Meyer some breathing room. His first season can be that much more devoted to teaching. He doesn't have to win the league or make a BCS bowl. He can focus on installing his offense and defense with returning quarterback Braxton Miller while integrating a lauded recruiting class into the mix. The fact that OSU can't play in a bowl game this season also means that Meyer can hang onto several redshirts that he might have been tempted to use in a bowl-eligible season. The short-term loss is noticeable, but the long-term benefits could be considerable for a program that is poised to return to the mountaintop in the Big Ten in 2013.
Meyer needed two years (but only two years) to transform his previous three programs into winners. His second season at Bowling Green, in 2002; his second season at Utah, in 2004; and his second season at Florida, in 2006, all produced big winners. At Ohio State, Meyer doesn't have to dominate in year one; as long as he sets the table for year two, he will have gained in 2012 what he and his fan base are hoping for.
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